Aero: Piper Announces Diesel Seminole

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As Piper rides a wave of trainer aircraft demand, it announced at Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany, that it will offer a diesel version of its PA-44 Seminole. The new model will be powered by a new Jet-A engine model from Continental Motors, the 170-HP CD-170, a variant of Continental’s CD-100 series diesel engines.

The Seminole DX follows the diesel-powered Archer DX, which was introduced at Aero in 2014. The Archer DX uses the 155-HP CD-155 Continental engine and is intended primarily for the European and Asian markets, where avgas is becoming difficult to find and expensive when it is available.

According to Piper’s Simon Caldecott, the Seminole DX will be equipped with counter-rotating props to eliminate the need for critical-engine training. As are the current Diamond twin diesels that precede it, the Archer DX will have single-lever power controls and autofeathering propellers. The panel will include Garmin’s new G1000 NXi EFIS system.

Comments (11)

This diesel Seminole sounds like a great little personal airplane. But it's being sold as a multi-engine trainer. Most of its purchasers will be pilot-farm flight schools.

If the trainer that you use to obtain a full-privilege AMEL license has
1. No critical engine
2. A Vmc that is less than its Vso
3. Auto-feathering propellers
is your license worth more than the plastic it's printed on, when it comes to flying garden-variety piston twins?

I'm having flashbacks to the FAA's reaction to the introduction of the Cessna 337...

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | April 18, 2018 6:55 AM    Report this comment

"is your license worth more than the plastic it's printed on, when it comes to flying garden-variety piston twins?"

It's worth no less than doing one's primary flight training in a fuel-injected easy-to-land C172 and then moving on to a carbureted (carb-icing) high-performance aircraft that is difficult to land. Like anything else, the plastic just means you haven't killed yourself while meeting the minimum standards, and are expected to receive additional training as necessary when moving to new aircraft.

ME training is risky enough when you are flying a plane without a critical engine. You still have the difference in induced flow over the wing, so it will still try to kill you. Having auto-feathering props and Vmc < Vso gives the poor instructor a little more time to react when the student does something stupid. That being said, I wouldn't be entirely opposed to requiring an endorsement or certificate limitation for those who have no experience with non-auto-feathering props, similar to the "limited to centerline thrust" limitation for the 337.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | April 18, 2018 7:39 AM    Report this comment

If you've never experienced an asymetric-thrust-induced roll-off; if you've never caged an inoperative engine - have you really met the requirements for a full-privilege certificate? If you operate a flight school that offers such limited-experience training, are you providing true value? Can you sleep at night?

The Seminole and the Dutchess are relatively safe ME trainers, and that's not a bad thing. But at least they offer an oportunity to cage an engine, then re-start it in flight....

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | April 18, 2018 7:52 AM    Report this comment

That's why I think a separate endorsement for non-auto-feathering props might be a good way to fix this potential training gap. Or maybe call it a "conventional ME endorsement" if you want it to include non-CR props too.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | April 18, 2018 8:29 AM    Report this comment

For people who complain about the FAA, you folks sure do seem to be angling to add more rules because you don't think this new plane is hard enough to fly.

Are you really that worried about pilot skills, or do you just want all of today's students to go through the same rigamarole that you did?

As Yars rightly points out, these are going to pilot mills. People are going to get the bare minimum experience they need in them before going right seat at a regional. They don't need experience caging engines and Vmc demonstrations because they're irrelevant to the flying they'll do as a career. Yes, they'll be less useful aeronauts. That ship has sailed: Welcome to professional flying in the 21st Century. Set the autopilot and take a nap. Sure some passengers will die when an airplane operator can't handle hand-flying. That's the bargain we've made, apparently.

The conventional piston twin is a dinosaur. 20 years from now they'll be museum pieces or unairworthy ramp rats. There's no reason to maintain skills that are only relevant to flying them for most pilots.

We can trust individuals to get type-specific training if they'll be going on to fly conventional twins. The FAA doesn't need more to do.

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | April 18, 2018 9:59 AM    Report this comment

I appreciate your point about "more rules." While I don't advocate setting engines on fire in flight, as part of the training for blowing the fire bottles, I am leery of signing off a PPASEL candidate whose training took place entirely in an airplane that is incapable of stalling - for example. It's not a "too easy to fly" thing. It's a delivery-of-requirements thing.

I also liked your point about pilots seeking additional training before flying "traditional twins." We can only hope...

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | April 18, 2018 10:53 AM    Report this comment


Fair point. I'm in agreement re: stalls. Stall awareness and recovery is part of flying most airplanes. I'm actually against the current regime of never doing full stalls at all, same with the higher slow flight speeds, for the same reason.

Regarding multis: I guess it's really a question of: Is caging an engine and doing a Vmc demonstration "fundamental" to flying multiengine airplanes, or is it "fundamental" to flying conventional piston twins? I'd argue it's the latter, and that it's not necessary for someone doing an ab initio ATP and heading straight to a regional.

Even if they take a break along the way to instruct, it'll be at the same pilot mill, and flying the same twin they did their training in.

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | April 18, 2018 11:00 AM    Report this comment

Auto-feathering props are systems just like any other system in airplanes. Two twins I learned in that had auto feather function the training also involved dealing with auto feather malfunctions. True these planes were turboprops (Piaggio and Saab 340). If the autofeather function in a piston twin can be turned off just like the turboprops then there is no need for additional endorsements. Besides no insurance company is going to give coverage in a piston twin to a private pilot without specific training for the model being covered.

Posted by: matthew wagner | April 18, 2018 11:24 AM    Report this comment

I'm waiting for the first "many" multi-motor electric trainer. If NASA has their way, we'll all be flying X-57 "Maxwells" with 14 electric motors ... so there'll be no need for these diesel powered dinosaurs.

So that begs the question ... will the certificate say multi-'motor' land?

Posted by: Larry Stencel | April 19, 2018 5:20 AM    Report this comment

I'm GUESSING that these coming many-motor vehicles will have just ONE power-control lever: a computer will handle all of the required management of the individual thrusters. This will obliterate the distinction between single-engine and multi-engine configurations, and consequently will cause dozens of heads to explode in OKC.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | April 19, 2018 8:45 AM    Report this comment

Multiengine aircraft are required in 135 ops in "further than gliding distance from shore", in other words unless the FAA changes 135 regs piston multiengine aircraft will be with us for many years to come.

Yes, I agree training is key to long-term survival in this business. However, considering the costs involved the days of two buddies renting an Apache and taking off to screw around doing "training" are over.

There is no solution to the ever-increasing lack of skill when considering the costs. More requirements for skill means greater expense up front. Few are that wealthy and those that certainly do not want a career in such a demanding tough occupation.

The only solution is to reduce regulation on equipment and associated machinery. When everything that goes into an airplane costs 10-20 times more than an equivalent part in cars the systemic costs increase to make any minute in flight very expensive.

Take a look at LED lights 270 bucks for PMA landing light and 55 bucks for a same or equivalent light for a tractor and on it goes.

Posted by: Max Mason | April 19, 2018 9:12 AM    Report this comment

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