AVIC Subsidiary Continental Aerospace Will Power the Upcoming Diamond DA50, Expands into Electric Propulsion
Continental Aerospace Technologies' CD-300 diesel engine will power the upcoming Diamond Aircraft DA50 general aviation aircraft. The company also recently expanded its portfolio with a “cash and in-kind contribution” investment in electric aircraft and propulsion company, Ampaire Inc.
Continental Aerospace Technologies (Continental) of Mobile Alabama – a subsidiary of Beijing-based Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is partnering with Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH (Diamond) of Austria to provide a new powerplant for the DA50 general aviation aircraft. Diamond will develop the DA50 personal luxury aircraft with the Continental CD-300 diesel engine.
“After careful consideration, we determined that the CD-300 engine aligns with Diamond’s jet fuel philosophy and that it is a suitable solution for our DA50 platform,” says Liqun (Frank) Zhang, CEO of Diamond.
The CD-300, a four-valve, six-cylinder, V-configuration with common rail direct injection, was certified in December 2017. Running on Jet-A fuel, the engine produces 300 hp at a quiet 2,300 revolutions per minute and an economical consumption rate of 9.2 gallons per hour. The engine was specifically designed to power high performance, luxury piston powered aircraft, according to Continental.
In 2018, Diamond took a moment to pause development and reevaluate all ongoing projects. Zhang, who took ownership of the Austrian general aviation aircraft company in 2017, was focused on realigning the company and working to position Diamond as the leading company in general aviation market.
“Matching the CD-300 Jet-A engine with the new DA50 aircraft by Diamond Aircraft Industries is a rekindling of the relationship that created the original successful Jet-A piston powered aircraft,” says Rhett Ross, president and CEO of Continental. “We are pleased that Diamond chose Continental as a partner to bring this product to market.”
After ground tests on March 15, the CD-300-equipped DA50 quickly successfully completed its first test flight a week later on March 22, a scant few months after the program began.
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Since the initial test flight, the development program has shifted focus toward detailed integration work to create a seamless flying experience by integration of the DA 50’s advanced avionics with the CD-300’s dual redundant full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system. Diamond is working to achieve basic European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification of a five-seat DA50 with retractable gear powered by the Continental CD-300 in Summer 2020.
Continental also recently expanded its portfolio with a “cash and in-kind contribution” investment in Ampaire Inc. , an electric aircraft and propulsion company, to develop new aircraft concepts that reduce aviation's carbon footprint, while increasing functionality, safety, and consumer value.
“We are excited about our partnership with the Ampaire team in its development of advanced electric aircraft concepts,” says Ross. “Working with a company free from the strictures of the historic aircraft industry is helping our team tailor our strategy and finalize our products to support the next generation of aircraft.”
Continental has long been an innovator in general aviation, claiming firsts in the use of turbocharging, FADEC, and the successful commercialization of Jet-A fueled piston aircraft engines. This collaboration allows both companies to continue to learn while delivering new capabilities to the market.
“Electric aircraft will play an important role in the future of aviation,” says Kevin Noertker, CEO of Ampaire. “Continental shares this vision, and we are eager to pair our work with its experience and resources to push the industry forward.”
Ampaire is currently working on completing its initial electric power system design and control methodology. Thereafter, the company will install the system for flight testing in a Cessna 337 Skymaster aircraft, which will complete initial flight testing, including on a real-world commuter flight route in Hawaii. The results of these activities will be used to further refine the power system concept for tighter integration with new airframe designs.
William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.