Cessna revealed more details of plans for its Next Generation Piston (NGP) family at the US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Expo 2006 in Palm Springs, California last week. The sleek, four-seat proof-of-concept aircraft has that began 40h of flight tests (pictured below) earlier this year is almost entirely made of composite materials.
"That doesn't necessarily mean we're committed to going to composites," says president and chief executive Jack Pelton. He stresses the test aircraft is not a prototype, but a changing tool to develop a new family of light aircraft. The full-scale mockup displayed at AOPA Expo showed refinements to the design of the high-wing, fixed-gear aircraft.

Cessna NGPO Flint Hills
© Cessna 

 Cessna NGP GA

The NGP will likely be the first Cessna aircraft produced with a diesel engine. Jet-fuel diesels will not be in the first models, but Pelton says their eventual use is one of the design and testing considerations. He is not saying what engine is on the proof-of-concept aircraft, but Cessna has started looking at diesels on its other aircraft. "We've flight tested the 1.7 litre Thielert [turbo-diesel] and now we're beginning to flight test the 2litre. We are actively advocating to anybody who builds engines to please build a higher horsepower diesel or alternative fuel engine," Pelton says. 
Cessna is not releasing performance goals or specifications. "We aren't chasing a single parameter. We want to make sure it's consistent with our tradition here at Cessna, that we offer the best combination of safety, speed, range, useful load, comfort and price," Pelton says. Flight testing has satisfied initial structural requirements, aerodynamic performance, engine cooling requirements and proven balanced and simple handling characteristics, he says, adding: "We have a whole host of system integration and new technologies that we're looking at."
When the NGPs are released, Pelton says, the existing piston Cessnas will not be discontinued. "When we brought up numerous Citations, we let the market dictate what happens relative to a prior model becoming obsolete."

Source: FlightGlobal.com