OSHKOSH, Wis. – Cessna Aircraft, hoping to bring a certified diesel version of the 182, the Turbo Skylane JT-A, into the market in the upcoming weeks, is planning to add a diesel variant of the 172, the Skyhawk JT-A, to the lineup next year.

The new diesel Skyhawk, announced July 28 at AirVenture here, will sport the Continental CD-155 diesel engine, which Cessna says will boost maximum range by 58% over the aviation gasoline-fueled Skyhawk to 1,012 nm and increase maximum speed to 131 kt. Fuel burn, meanwhile, would drop by 25%.

Cessna will offer the Continental diesel engine as an option beginning next year, priced at about $435,000, about $65,000 more than the original Skyhawk.

Cessna is able to bring the new aircraft to market much faster since, unlike with the Skylane JT-A ,the Continental CD-155 is already certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency on the Skyhawk. The CD-155 was originally developed by Thielert as the 155-hp Centurion 2.0.

Cessna had selected the engine to power the Skyhawk before Thielert went into insolvency. That effort was suspended after Thielert went bankrupt. But Continental Motors acquired the Thielert engine lines last year, bringing new life to the diesel research.

The Centurion is also on Piper’s Archer DX diesel aircraft, which obtained EASA certification in early spring.

As for the Skylane, Joe Hepburn, senior vice president, piston aircraft, concedes that certification has taken "a little longer than we anticipated," but adds certification is "really close." Cessna is working to finish up the certification flight tests and complete the necessary paperwork. All the major tests for certification have been completed, he adds.

Cessna originally hoped to have certification completed last year. But the program was set back in part due to an emergency landing of the test Skylane last August after the aircraft encountered an engine issue.

The Skylane is incorporating the Safran SMA SR305-230-1 diesel engine, which will provide a 1,025-nm range and a certified ceiling of 20,000 ft. The aircraft has an estimated useful load of 1,000 lb.

Cessna is gearing up to begin full marketing of the diesel Skylane, particularly in international markets, where the company expects it will be in the most demand. The company is planning to station up to six demonstrators around the world.

Cessna expects to attract strong interests in developing markets where aviation gasoline is not readily available or markets where environmental regulations curb use of the leaded avgas. But Hepburn does not rule out potential sales in the U.S., noting jet fuel is readily available.

"We’ve been working for a few years now to find new, reliable alternate fuel solutions for the Cessna Skyhawk to meet changing environmental regulations, particularly in Europe," Hepburn says. "The recent advances and growing maturity in diesel engine technology in the aviation market now give us the means to satisfy a growing demand around the world."