February 2010 Issue
SMA Diesel Revisited: The Numbers Are Solid
A New Jersey flying club took a gamble in converting its Skylane to diesel power. An early assessment suggests it will pay off.
Think of it: If you had an aircraft engine that burned two to three gallons less than the competition, delivered the same horsepower, weighed more or less the same and burned fuel that isn’t threatened with extinction, as 100LL is, wouldn’t you sell the hell out of it? You’d think so. But while SMA, the French daughter of aerospace giant SAFRAN, has such an engine in the SR305 aerodiesel, buying one is at best a rarified experience. There aren’t many of these engines flying, so judging their merits has been largely a paper exercise. So when the Paramus Flying Club, a long established New Jersey co-operative, invited us to examine their SMA-converted Cessna 182, we realized it represented a rare opportunity to take the measure of this engine in the wild. The club has been operating it for nearly a year and while it’s too soon to declare it a walk-away success, the airplane has proven to be the most popular among the club’s 46 members, its dispatch reliability has been excellent and the engine’s initial operating costs look promising.
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