Engine Manufacturer Wants To Sell You On Diesels
SMA earned an STC to
install its SMA SR305-230 diesel engines in certain Cessna 182
models in July of this year. Since then, they've sold six engines
in the US, and six in Canada. That may not seem like many, but SMA
is ecstatic about it.
"This is really, really big for us," said Luc Heugas, SMA's vice
president of sales and marketing. "We have three distributors now
in the US; we plan to have six before AirVenture in July of
SMA (Société de Motorisations Aéronautiques
if you're wondering what it stands for) was born of a collaboration
between Aerospatiale, Socata & Renault in January 1997. Since
then, it's gone through some serious growing pains including a
bankruptcy and subsequent acquisition by French engine
manufacturing giant SNECMA, part of the Saffron Group.
"If you look on the floor of AOPA Expo this year, you'll see new
airplanes and new avionics," said Heugas. "The only thing that
isn't new recently is engines. The new planes with their new
avionics are still flying with 50-year-old-technology engines."
SMA wants to change that. It's struggled the past few years to
educate the US aviation community on the advantages diesel
technology offers. One of the biggest is fuel savings.
North American sales manager Pavel Hosa related the story of two
identical Skylanes flying from Europe to Oshkosh for AirVenture
last year; one equipped with an SR305-230, the other the standard
Lycoming. According to Hosa, the diesel burned 42-percent less fuel
for the trip.
Hosa believes public awareness of the availability of diesels in
the US is high, "But our potential customers just don't know why
they should get one."
Heugas said, "Our goal is to get in the US market. We plan to be
manufacturing engines here within two years. We've been speaking
with US OEM companies and we hope to make an announcement in
January." And don't ask who before January -- Heugas doesn't kiss
If you don't own a C-182, but want an SMA engine for your plane,
don't look to SMA to develop an STC for it. Heugas says SMA
developed the C-182 STC only to get the engine flying in the US.
Future STC development will come from companies interested in
selling the engine. "We want to be an OEM engine manufacturer. The
STC process was a necessary evil. We have it, but we don't want to
do it again."
Heugas says the company is working towards a 350 hp diesel
engine. "We think there is a lot of interest in the US market for
an engine of that size."
So besides burning less fuel, what are the benefits? It's
quieter than gas engines for one. The C-182 installation meets or
exceeds all US and European noise requirements - something that
can't be said for the original engine.
If you'd like a chance to see and maybe even fly an airplane
with a diesel, SMA has a plan to help. It's beginning a demo tour
of the Americas in January. It'll be flying a diesel-equipped C-182
around South America first, then in North America starting in
March. Keep an eye on the company's website to see when it'll visit
a city near you.