LoPresti Aviation Engineering said it has received the first production 200hp (147kW), four-cylinder DeltaHawk DH-180A4 two-stroke diesel engine.

The engine is destined for its Cirrus SR20 engine upgrade programme, dubbed the SR2X.

RJ Siegel, LoPresti's chief executive, said the first flight of the company's modified SR20, with the engine upgrade, will take place in November.

The Florida-based company expects to receive US Federal Aviation Administration supplemental type certificate approval for the $100,000 upgrade by the third quarter of 2012.

Included in the kit will be an FAA-certified DeltaHawk diesel engine - which can burn a variety of fuel types, including Jet A - a redesigned cowling and a Hartzell three-blade propeller.

Siegel said the turbocharged and supercharged engine will provide full power up to 18,000ft (5,486m), making the SR20 as fast as the normally aspirated SR22 at altitude.

LoPresti picked the SR20 as its first prototype for the diesel engine due to the age of the fleet, meaning a large number of aircraft are approaching engine overhaul.

Future plans call for a diesel-powered version of the SR22, which would be attractive to European and Asian markets, where aviation fuel (avgas) is not readily available.

Cirrus acknowledged the challenge of selling avgas-powered aircraft overseas, and had been testing several alternative engine designs in the 2000s.

Challenges with the diesel engines in various environments - for example, restarting the engine at high altitudes and cold temperatures - proved to be too difficult to overcome at the time.

Source: Flight International