Africair retrofitting Ethiopian Airlines Cessnas with diesel engines


Aviation services company Africair has retrofitted three Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy Cessna 172 Skyhawks with diesel engines and is installing Continental Diesel engines in seven more this year, the company has announced.

“These conversions will allow Ethiopian, one of our most valued customers, the ability to take advantage of diesel power ownership in their flight schools,” said Lynne Keller, President of Africair. “Africair has a long history of supporting Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy dating back to 1977, when their first Skyhawk XP was delivered, and we have been continually supporting their operations ever since.”

Ethiopian Airlines will use their new diesel 172s to conduct flight training, averaging 6-7 hours per aircraft per day during peak training. Over a thousand pilots enrol in the academy every year. As the new engines can run on diesel or jet fuel, Ethiopian will use jet fuel as this is more readily available, and often cheaper, than avgas.

The 155 hp CD-155 engines are manufactured in Germany by Continental Motors Group, Ltd., an AVIC International Holding Corporation company. Previously the company was known as Centurion Aircraft Engines before its 2013 acquisition by Continental.

Africair has been retrofitting diesel engines for over a decade, with more than 60 retrofits, installations and upgrades on mostly Cessna 172s in Egypt, South Africa, Germany, and Guadeloupe, and the company has exported retrofitted aircraft from Miami to Iraq, Ethiopia, Angola, Libya, Colombia and other countries. Eight technicians and six pilots are employed by Africair to retrofit aircraft.

In 2013 Africair supplied six new Skyhawks with diesel engines to the Angolan Air Force, which uses them for ab-initio flight training, according to DieselAir.

Several diesel engines are available from Continental: the CD-135 and CD-155 four cylinders and V6 CD-300, producing 310 hp. The retrofit process involves the modified engine, fuel lines, relocating the main battery, installing backup batteries, modifying the instrument panel, replacing fuel caps and ports etc. Converting a Skyhawk costs around $90 000, according to Africair.

Africair has been involved in African aviaiton since 1968 and is the Cessna Aircraft and Bell Helicopter representative for the majority of Africa, supporting thousands of aircraft on the continent. The Africair Group of Companies includes Tropical Aviation Distributors (the Cessna ASR for the Caribbean and portions of South America), Propel Aviation Sales & Services (an authorized Cessna, Lycoming, and Continental Diesel Service Station certified by the FAA and EASA), and Tropicars (the E-Z-GO, Gem, and Polaris distributor for the Caribbean, portions of Central and South America, and much of Africa).