Cessna Ends Diesel Skyhawk Production

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Cessna’s diesel-powered Turbo Skyhawk JT-A is no longer in production for sale directly to customers, Textron has confirmed to AVweb. The airplane, which was certified last June by both the FAA and EASA, has been deleted from the company’s website. However, the Continental CD-155 engine will still be offered to customers directly through Continental as a Supplemental Type Certificate installation for the Cessna 172, a Textron Aviation spokesperson told AVweb in an email. "Installation can be facilitated and accomplished by Continental after aircraft acceptance and delivery from Textron Aviation," the spokesperson said. Cessna's sales of the JT-A were actually under Continental's STC approval.

"We trust that this change to deal directly with the engine manufacturer will be beneficial to our customers, while also helping us further streamline our production process," the spokesperson said. The 155-hp turbo-diesel Continental CD-155 can run on either diesel or Jet-A fuel, and boosted range by about 50 percent compared to the conventional Skyhawk. The option added about $60,000 to the base price. When it was introduced, Textron officials said they expected the new engine option would expand sales globally. Besides the added range, the diesel engine offers a speed boost to 134 knots and improved takeoff performance, especially in high and hot conditions, according to Textron.

Although the emerging pilot shortage has stimulated demand for trainers, diesel-powered models aren’t getting much lift in the North American market. Even worldwide, demand appears weak. According to Jimmy Lockhart of Africair, a Miami aircraft distributor that also offers Continental diesel conversions of the Cessna 172, market interest is strong, but sales are not. He says the company has converted about 70 airplanes to diesel, but none have been sold in the last 18 months. He said lack of interest in the Cessna JT-A was probably due to its high price — twice the cost of a diesel conversion.

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Comments (9)

Eventually, the Environmentlists will win out and the refiniories will give up producing 100LL and its equivalent/s. Then a diesel version of anything will be popular in the market.. Cessna's performance numbers look great.. But, at the present time, it is a little early for the conversion to diesel..

Posted by: Tom O'Toole | May 10, 2018 11:48 AM    Report this comment

Textron is the most confusing airplane manufacturer ever, unless you assume they hate piston airplanes and want them to go away.

I'd be really nervous owning any Cessna other than a fixed gear 172 or 182 right now if you think you'll need parts support.

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | May 10, 2018 12:13 PM    Report this comment

The Environmentalists hate diesels even more than gasoline.
Pilots can get a gas 172 plus a free 300HP Porsche Boxster for the cost of a diesel 172 !

Posted by: Mark Fraser | May 10, 2018 12:57 PM    Report this comment

"He says the company has converted about 70 airplanes to diesel, but none have been sold in the last 18 months. He said lack of interest in the Cessna JT-A was probably due to its high price -- twice the cost of a diesel conversion."

Why pay twice the cost of a diesel conversion? if Cessna had put the price of the diesel airplane at close to the same as converting a gas airplane to diesel, they would have sold 70 more C172 diesels. 70 conversions shows there is a market for them...but not at twice the conversion price. 70 more new 172 sales would have generated a big press release.

Posted by: Jim Holdeman | May 10, 2018 1:21 PM    Report this comment

Somebody did not do the math. Unless you are in an area where 100LL is flat not available, the diesel at a $60k premium makes zero sense. Even if Jet A is a dollar a gallon cheaper than 100LL (not the case in most places), it would take 6000 hours of flying at 10 gallons per hour to get your money back. For most flight schools even, at 50 hours a month, that is a ten year return on your money. If one adds better fuel economy, it would still be a 5 to 7.5 year payback in the best case situation for a flight school. An individual will never recover the costs.

Posted by: Gary Risley | May 10, 2018 3:24 PM    Report this comment

Cessna has convinced me that they have lost the ability to successfully design, certify, and manufacture small airplanes. And that they have no interest in that activity, either. They undoubtedly make 10x the money by selling parts to support the existing fleet.
Best to leave the design and manufacture of new small planes to somebody who cares about it.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | May 10, 2018 4:39 PM    Report this comment

Textron Cessna is not a 501c3. The C172 and C182 are an endangered product.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | May 11, 2018 7:34 AM    Report this comment

For 2017 only 1185 piston powered airplanes total were delivered globally. If the aircraft manufacture ring industry wants to deliver more than 1185 airplanes per year, the airplane manufacturing industry will have to offer a reliable, yet reasonably priced Jet-A powered airplane. The first manufacturer who accomplishes this will be the new world headquarters for piston powered airplanes. 70 diesel conversions alone in Africa points to the need for a Jet-A powered solution. Wichita can do it...if it wants to. United States technology can do it...if it wants to.

There is a reason China owns Cirrus, Continental, and a majority stake in Diamond. India has Mahindra. Wichita is proving reluctant in pursuing Jet-A options.

I believe that the breakthroughs needed to make a reasonably priced Jet-A powered piston airplane will not come from the US. It will come from countries who bought our engineering and adapted it to their needs. We will be buying new airplanes from them while Textron stamps out parts for our ever dwindling "legacy" GA airplanes. And the aviation magazines will be filled with press releases from CEO's of former US owned aviation companies proudly proclaiming another foreign acquisition of Yankee ingenuity...with Wichita becoming the next Detroit.

Posted by: Jim Holdeman | May 11, 2018 11:55 AM    Report this comment

....Jet-A powered airplane. The first manufacturer who accomplishes this will be the new world headquarters for piston powered airplanes"

Why Jet A?
The world is awash with gasoline, not Jet A.
Make a 172 that flies on MoGas and you'd have a machine that can be sold and flown anywhere in the world.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | May 11, 2018 2:01 PM    Report this comment

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