American Champion Aircraft to produce a diesel bush airplane

July 30, 2014

The American Champion Denali Scout is made for backcountry adventure.

American Champion Aircraft will pair its Scout bush plane with an Austro Engines diesel to increase speed, extend range, and allow its aircraft to fly in remote regions where avgas is unavailable.

“Can you get avgas in the bush? Not always,” said Jerry Mehlhaff Jr. of American Champion. “The diesel engine is going to give us a large increase in range on much less fuel. We expect a 30 percent increase on range from the 700 miles we get with reserves right now.”

The Austro Engines AE 300 is virtually identical to the one now being flown on diesel versions of the Diamond DA40—but American Champion said it will get a new version that puts out 180 horsepower.

Mehlhaff said the horsepower increase was essential for the performance required in hot, high-altitude regions where the aircraft is expected to operate. The turbocharged AE 300 gets full power up to 10,000 feet.

The program to install the diesel engine and get FAA certification is “in its infancy,” Mehlhaff said. He expects to have a flying prototype in 2015 and FAA certification in 2016.

The diesel engine option is expected to add about $50,000 to the retail price of a Scout.

The American Champion Denali Scout has big paws.
Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman | AOPA Pilot Senior Editor, AOPA

AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.