Julian Moxon/PARIS

French diesel engine company SMA Motorisations Aeronautiques is heading for Joint Aviation Authorities certification of its first engine, the 230hp (171kW) SR305, in February after completion in December of a four-month test programme. US certification is expected around nine months later.

The company is initially targeting the light aircraft retrofit market and is sending an initial batch of engines to several undisclosed manufacturers in the USA and Europe for installation in their aircraft. SMA says: "There are potentially 210,000 aircraft which will need replacement engines within five years. We expect to take a significant proportion as we will be the first to arrive in the market."

Renault Sport, Snecma and EADS each hold one-third shares in SMA, with the arrival of the latter two in July providing a much-needed Fr90 million ($12 million) financing for final certification development and testing. SMA president is Jean-Marc de Raffin Dourny, ex-president of Socata, which teamed with Renault Sport to develop the diesel powerplant.

The SR305 has amassed 8,000h test bench running and around 70h in flight, mainly on a Socata TB20. The powerplant was also installed on a Cessna 182 owned by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In partnership with SMA the university has designed a new engine display panel based around a percentage power indicator using light emitting diodes to show power levels, as well as a digital presentation showing the precise values. SMA-powered aircraft will be fitted with a single power lever replacing the original throttle, mixture and propeller controls which, via a digital engine control unit, will run the engine at its best setting throughout a flight.

SMA plans to produce 300 engines next year at its site near Paris, increasing to 1,000 in 2002 and "to 2,000 and beyond" thereafter. Development of a 300hp variant is under way, with certification set for mid-2002. Other variants are being considered.

Source: Flight International