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Jet-fuel powered Cessna flies cheaper and greener

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July 26, 2012

The Turbo 182 NXT is based on the Cessna Model 182 Skylane, shown here

The Turbo 182 NXT is based on the Cessna Model 182 Skylane, shown here

The Cessna Aircraft Company is looking to make small planes a little cheaper to fuel and greener to fly with its new Cessna Turbo 182 NXT. Unveiled on Monday, July 23, at the 2012 Airventure airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the aircraft is a single-engine prop plane that is the first to burn Jet A aviation fuel. This change makes the plane cheaper to fuel, get better mileage and performance, as well as operate more environmentally friendly.

Small prop planes like Cessna's burn what’s known as “Avgas," (short for aviation gasoline), which is similar to regular gasoline, but contains tetraethyl lead (TEL), a toxic substance used to enhance combustion stability. It’s been used for decades, but it is a bit like the two-stroke gasoline of the skies when it comes to efficiency and the environment.

Until now, that’s been the only option for single-engine piston aircraft, but Cessna’s achievement is to build the first plane of its type that uses a Safran-made 230 horsepower SMA diesel engine that burns Jet A aviation fuel. That is, as the name implies, the fuel that jet aircraft burn.

The advantage of the switch in fuels is most obviously that Jet A is cheaper than Avgas. It also improves the plane’s performance considerably. The Turbo 182 NXT burns 11 gallons per flight hour, giving its 87 gallon (329 liter) fuel tank a range of 1,025 nautical miles (1,898 kilometers) at its maximum cruising speed of 155 knots (237 km/h, 178 mph). That works out to 30 percent to 40 percent less fuel burned than Avgas engines of the same class.

Based on the Cessna Model 182 Skylane, the Turbo 182 NXT has a passenger capacity of four people, can carry 1,000 pounds (454 kg) and reach a maximum height of 20,000 feet (6,096 meters). The propeller runs slower than previous aircraft, so the turbocharger runs quieter, and there are also no lead or carbon monoxide emissions. The aircraft has undergone extensive reliability and flight testing and is expected to go on the market next year with a list price of US$515,000.

Source: Cessna

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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16 Comments

I know that Cessna 182s in Europe have been available with diesel engines for awhile now, but not in the US (that I know of). They would burn Jet A because it's basically kerosene, which is basically diesel fuel.

K5ING
26th July, 2012 @ 08:42 pm PDT

Seems this has been an optional upgrade since 2008...

WW2 saw some German planes flying with diesel engines... (Junkers) (Deemed not suitable for fighters)

While fuel was cheap, there was no need to use more expensive engines...

So why develop a diesel engine for small aircraft (large aircraft needed more power than was easily available form piston engines so naturally switched to turbine engines..

Most of the "downsides" are merely manpower related... The engineering time needs to be paid for, probably none of them are insurmountable... Modern Diesel engines in cars are the example of what can be achieved when the time to develop is invested.

MD
26th July, 2012 @ 10:50 pm PDT

An flight certified diesel has been around for a few years now.

Add several more blades and turn the prop significantly slower will make the plane a lot quieter. The US Army developed a plane that was inaudible at a thousand feet in 1968 and had deployed a "Production model" in 1970.

Slowburn
26th July, 2012 @ 10:59 pm PDT

"a single-engine prop plane that is the first to burn Jet A" - diesel powered singles have been around for years, mainly in homebuild/kitplanes but Diamond were selling the Thielert diesel powered DA40D nearly 10 years ago. There have also been diesel engines retrofitted to certified aircraft.

The biggest drawback is the extra weight caused by the need to withstand higher compression ratios, not quite offset by the reduced fuel burn requiring less fuel to be carried. Another advantage in Europe is that Avgas is heavily taxed whereas Jet A isn't although the additional price of the SMA-engined 182 will offset any savings.

B4
27th July, 2012 @ 12:33 am PDT

"Modern Diesel engines in cars are the example of what can be achieved when the time to develop is invested. "

You're kidding right? Ever heard of Benzopyrene? All the mainstream automobile and heavy transport industry ever developed and refined in alll these years are toxic spewing engines with horrible mechanical and thermal efficiency with engineered absolence. 2/3rds of the heat produced by your beloved infernal combustion engines are wasted, engines that spin in access of 650 rpms in stoplight doing nothing and acess fuel being burned up in your exhaust just because it's been thrown out. How do you think 'suck sqeeze bang engine' industry make their money? Spare parts. Fuel filters, oil filters, air filters, radiators etc etc Not to mention the engine oil industry.

Check Cyclonepower. They've been granted by the US military to develop small compact generators that can run on any fuel, robots that can power itself by scavenging plants and dead animals/people, susbmersibles that can refuel in under 5 minutes and stay underwater for weeks using their universal fuel 4th generation steam technolgy. They're the next big thing.

On topic, if Cessna is really trying to save the environment, they would've sell converters or offer conversion option instead of selling a new model. The industry is full of greedy people.

SpaceBagels
27th July, 2012 @ 05:35 am PDT

Thanks for that info SpaceBagels. Looks good. I just hope vested interests don't beat them into submission too.

Mike Hallett
27th July, 2012 @ 09:06 am PDT

@space bagels

If you research old popular science(etc,) magazines,

most "next big things" are never heard from again.

The laziness of the general population serves quite well as a co-dependent companion

to the "conspiracy of greed".

As for aircraft,

the nature of bureaucracy in aviation is such that if the FAA had been established prior to the first mechanical flight,

the Wrights would probably still be waiting for permission to make their test flight!

"Too dangerous-it's entirely unproven!"

Griffin
27th July, 2012 @ 10:05 am PDT

Replacing the piston engine with a small turboprop would surely make more sense, and be lighter as well.

nutcase
27th July, 2012 @ 04:57 pm PDT

Of course, they could also use a variable pitch prop to increase both take-off and max cruise performance.

Mirmillion
27th July, 2012 @ 05:35 pm PDT

re; nutcase

Small fuel efficient gas turbines are very expensive, and have lousy throttle response.

Slowburn
27th July, 2012 @ 07:00 pm PDT

I'm just surprised that no one said anything about the half million price tag for a small four seater aircraft!

Billy Brooks
27th July, 2012 @ 11:12 pm PDT

The article says that these planes will be quieter, but ALL of the turboprops I have heard and MUCH louder than conventional piston planes.

giselher
28th July, 2012 @ 10:08 am PDT

"the aircraft is a single-engine prop plane that is the first to burn Jet A aviation fuel"

This is by far not the first single aircraft running on jet fuel and not even the first Cessna.

Thielert Aircraft Engines in Europe has started to produce Centurion engines and has retrofitted Cessna's and other aircraft with Diesel engines running on jet fuel already a long time ago.

http://web.thielert.com/typo3/index.php?id=350&L=1

This may be the first Cessna delivered from the US factory to be equipped with that kind of technology, meaning that Cessna is just slowly catching up with demand and technology :-)

ChrisOz
29th July, 2012 @ 03:22 pm PDT

re; ChrisOz

In all fairness to Cessna most of the time was probably getting the Air Worthiness paperwork approved for a new built plane. Government bureaucracies and all that.

Slowburn
29th July, 2012 @ 07:26 pm PDT

@ChrisOz, so they missed one little word that they were thinking, factory certified. Aside from the DA42, which is a twin engine, there are no other Jet A factory certified planes. Oh yeah, if one is willing there are several SMA powered 182's flying around in the US right now.

Fly Boy
7th August, 2012 @ 05:58 pm PDT

A lot of kit planes can accept car engines.

Mitko Ian
26th February, 2013 @ 11:45 am PST
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