"We're excited about our expanding customer base," said Rhett Ross, president of Continental Motors, commenting about the growing number of aircraft manufacturers that have committed to jet-A-powered diesel engines. The newest customer for Continental's CD-155 engine is Cessna, which selected the 155-hp diesel to power its Turbo Skyhawk JT-A.
Ross made a more significant announcement for Continental yesterday at EAA AirVenture 2014–the unveiling of the new three-liter V6 CD-300 series diesel engine. "Not only is this in development, it is flying today," he said. The first CD-300 is a turbocharged 310-hp engine, based on automotive technology, and turns at 2300 rpm. The engine's critical altitude is 8,000 feet and service ceiling 25,000 feet. Continental is targeting a time between removal (TBR) of more than 2,400 hours, according to Ross. The engine is ideal for four- to six-seat airplanes, he added. "We are now in certification and coming out of hardcore development, and we expect delivery of prototypes in 2015 and finishing certification in 2016."
The Continental diesel family now covers three main series: the CD-100, CD-200 and CD-300, with horsepower ranges of 100 to 200 hp; 200 to 300 hp; and more than 300 hp, respectively. A year ago, Continental acquired the assets of Altenburg, Germany-based diesel engine maker Thielert and adopted Thielert's Centurion brand name. Now Continental's diesel engines are all being marketed under the CD (Continental Diesel) brand name.
The CD-230, which received FAA certification in December 2012, earned type certification validation in China on July 3, becoming the fourth Continental diesel engine so approved in that country. The CD-230 is an air-cooled design and produces 230 hp at 2200 rpm.
More than 4,000 CD-100-series engines are installed in more than 2,000 aircraft, and they have logged more than four million flight hours. "They have the highest reliability of any piston engine," Ross noted.
Continental Motors is not limiting developments to the diesel engine market, although that seems to be growing rapidly, with Glasair developing a TD-155-powered version of its Sportsman, Piper Aircraft receiving EASA certification for the TD-155-powered Archer DX in April and Redbird's RedHawk. Premier Aircraft Sales' Skyhawk diesel upgrades also use Continental engines.
"Gasoline is a large part of our customer base," Ross said. The resumption of production by Mooney Aircraft is a good sign for Continental, as is Flight Design's certification program for the Continental-powered C4. Continental is also part of the FAA-industry Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative, which aims to replace leaded avgas with a suitable unleaded fuel.
Continental is also expanding its services product line and has consolidated maintenance businesses under the Continental Motors Services brand. The company's light aircraft maintenance facility in Fairhope, Ala., was merged with Mattituck Services last year to provide complete piston-engine MRO services. The company also is buying Southern Avionics and Communications of Mobile, Ala., and is adding talent for a propeller shop and business jet maintenance. "We don't intend to stop," Ross said. "MRO is a growth opportunity, and we'll have more announcements later this year."
Although the Italian prosecutor has discontinued investigations of alleged wrongdoings in the sale of 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters to India for VVIP transport, the fate of the program remains unclear. AgustaWestland has agreed to pay a "negligible fine (which)...is not in any way an admission of any wrongdoing or liability," said a statement from Finmeccanica, which further noted that the Prosecutor had "specifically acknowledged the non-involvement" of the parent company.
The previous Indian government canceled AgustaWestland's contract last January and started converting bank guarantees. India shelved the contract on the grounds that the precontract integrity pact had been breached. The following month, the Finmeccanica group was barred from the DefExpo in Delhi by then-Defence Minister A.K. Anthony, who declared it was "a clean-up signal for the industry." In seeking to portray a "clean" image, Anthony often put defense bids on hold following the smallest complaint by competition.
AIN has learned that new Indian guidelines on blacklisting are expected to be announced, along with changes in the defense procurement policy. "India's new government and MoD has...indicated that allegations must be based on proof and process, not conjecture," a senior official told AIN.
With rotables having run out, the three AW101s already delivered to the Indian Air Force are not flying anymore. Another three are in storage at AW's Yeovil, UK facility. The deal was to replace aging Russian Mi-8 helicopters.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued long-promised guidance adopting the position of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) regarding when an on-airport repair station is responsible for large aircraft on its property under the new aircraft repair station security regulation.
In response to ARSA's inquiry, the agency clarified that a "repair station is responsible for large aircraft when the repair station has authority over the aircraft, contractual dominion or control of the aircraft, or when the repair station knows or should know that a large aircraft has been tendered to them by an aircraft owner or operator." Furthermore, the TSA explained that it "considers the repair station to be responsible for the large aircraft until the aircraft owner or operator has taken delivery and/or control of the aircraft."
Daniel Fisher, ARSA's vice president of Legislative Affairs, told AIN, "After the final repair station security regulation's release, TSA originally determined that under the rule, a repair station is responsible for all large aircraft ‘on its ramp or property,' regardless of who had dominion or control of the aircraft, ignoring TSA-mandated aircraft owner/operator responsibilities.This interpretation was unworkable. It not only duplicated the agency's own requirements and practices, but it ignored the fact that a repair station can't be responsible for preventing the unauthorized operation of an aircraft that it doesn't exercise control over. If the repair station doesn't have authority or the means to access the aircraft, how could it be responsible for preventing the aircraft's unauthorized operation? Following several inquiries by ARSA, common sense prevailed, and TSA adopted the association's recommendation. The agency should be commended for adjusting its interpretation to mesh with its own aircraft owner/operator security mandates and the realities of the industry."
D'Shannon Aviation has become the first out-of-state corporation to announce plans to relocate their engine overhaul operation to the Oshkosh Aviation Business Center in Wisconsin. The company is a major STC holder and manufacturer of upgrades for the Beechcraft fleet of Bonanzas, Debonairs and Barons. Scott Erickson, president of D'Shannon Aviation, told AIN, "We're moving our engine business from ‘Race City' (Mooresville), N.C., home of the world renowned Nascar engine shops to Oshkosh to take advantage of the highly skilled workforce and support. Mercury Marine, located in nearby Fond du Lac, is cutting edge in high-performance engine design and development. This area has a local skilled workforce including expertise in engineering, structural changes and airframe alterations. We've already hired several people with excellent engine development backgrounds, we're in the process of hiring local area A&Ps and we're also looking forward to working with Fond du Lac Fox Valley Technical College. We consider it a pleasure to be invited here to be able to take advantage of all these resources." The company also has a facility in Minnesota specializing in composites, cooling kits and the acrylic-window business.