Socata is developing two light aircraft powered by the new MR series of turbocharged diesel engines under development by Renault Sport.

The Morane MS180 is a four/five-seat fixed-gear aircraft equipped with the MR180 engine driving a constant-speed propeller, giving it a maximum speed of 135kt (250km/h). The MS250 has retractable landing gear and a maximum speed of 190kt. The aircraft are designed around a new airframe which is an upgraded and simplified version of the original Socata TB series.

Prices start at around $230,000 for the MS180 and $350,000 for the MS250. Both types are expected to be available in the first quarter of 1999.

Flight tests of the prototype MR250 engine, driving a Hartzell three-bladed constant-speed propeller, are due to begin in the third quarter of this year - about a month later than originally scheduled. The tests are likely to continue for about 12 months, when certification of the TB airframe on which the engine is mounted will be achieved. The trials will be continued until mid-1999, to meet final certification requirements and to confirm the claimed time-between-overhauls of 3,000h. MR250 certification is expected in April 1998 and that for the MR180 the following November.

Source: Flight International