5:06 PM

Cessna NGP
to go diesel?


A story reported on flightglobal.com this week from the AOPA Expo in balmy Palm Springs let loose with a few juicy details about Cessna’s exciting Next Generation Piston (NGP) project. I cannot find this info anywhere else, so for now take it with the proper grain of salt.

Two items of note in the story:

(1) The four-seat proof-of-concept aircraft that began flight testing earlier this year is said to be made almost entirely of composite materials. On that subject, Cessna President Jack Pelton said this:

"That doesn't necessarily mean we're committed to going to composites." Pelton explained that the test aircraft is not really a true prototype, but more of a testbed to develop a new family of light aircraft, and the design is changing all the time.
(2) On the subject of powerplant choice, Pelton indicated that the NGP will likely be the first Cessna aircraft produced with a diesel engine. Cessna is not saying what engine is on the proof-of-concept aircraft, but Pelton was quoted in this article as stating:
"We've flight tested the 1.7 litre Thielert [turbo-diesel] and now we're beginning to flight test the 2 litre. We are actively advocating to anybody who builds engines to please build a higher horsepower diesel or alternative fuel engine."
Alternative fuel? Now that is interesting. Flexfuel cars are beginning to show up, even though buying the actual fuel can still be impossible. But if the car guys can do it, why not us airplane guys too? I'll happily convert distilled corn instead of dead dinosaurs into altitude anytime if it'll help improve our Earth even a little bit.

One thing that is certain is that this will not be your grandfather’s Cessna. The engineers in Kansas are some of the finest in the trade, and we can only guess at this point what a final sale version of a NGP will be like. But a few sure bets are that it will have long range, be structurally solid, be very comfortable, and look great.

Just make sure the line guy is holding the right hose in his hand when he approaches your NGP after you say “fuel my high-wing Cessna.” If the dude somehow misses the giant fluorescent orange PLACARD stating the thing burns Jet-A, watermelon rinds or something that hasn't even been invented yet, you may not get far with the wrong juice in the tanks.

And you can be sure this will happen, Murphy’s Law is clear on that.

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