SMA introduces beefy diesel

July 30, 2013

SMA’s diesel SR460 will be offered in versions from 330 to 400 horsepower. The demonstrator weighs about 600 pounds, although it’s uncertain what the weight will be installed.

Société de Motorisations Aéronautiques (SMA) introduced a 330- to 400-horsepower diesel-cycle engine at EAA AirVenture 2013 that is expected to be certified in 2015.

The six-cylinder SR460 is based on the technology of the four-cylinder SR305, which Cessna chose in 2012 as the engine for its Skylane JT-A. With the addition of the new model, SMA, a subsidiary of Snecma (Safran group), will round out its offerings for the 200-hp-plus diesel market.

Supersizing the SR305 required some new technology to make it lighter; the SR460 has local fuel pumps distributed along the engine instead of one large fuel pump. SMA plans to have the first flight and certification—by both the FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency—in 2015, with serial production beginning at the end of that year. SMA said the engine will start with a 2,000-hour time between overhaul, but it is aiming for 2,400.

Rising avgas prices worldwide have increased the appeal of compression-ignition engines that burn jet fuel, particularly when an aircraft sees regular use; lower fuel consumption of diesels and the lower price of jet fuel then offsets the higher initial price of the diesel engine. AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton K. Marsh discusses the future of the technology in the August issue.

The SMA announcement is among several diesel developments discussed at AirVenture 2013, including Glasair’s work with DeltaHawk to add a diesel option and Aviation Industry Corporation of China’s (AVIC) acquisition of Thielert, a move that gives AVIC-owned Continental Motors a full line of diesels. SMA President Thierry Hurtes said his company is currently focused on higher-horsepower diesel models, although he did not rule out announcements about smaller engines in future years.