The Cessna plane that made an emergency landing in a field west of Cheney Reservoir late Wednesday afternoon was a Cessna experimental 182 JT-A equipped with a diesel engine designed to burn jet fuel, the company confirmed Friday.
The test pilot, the sole occupant of the plane, was unhurt.
The test airplane is part of Cessna’s development program to bring the model to market.
According to emergency scanner traffic, the pilot called 911 around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and told a Sedgwick County dispatcher that “an engine blew” and he needed to make an emergency landing.
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Cessna spokesman Andy Woodward said it is too soon to speculate on the cause of the malfunction. An investigation is under way.
“The flight was a part of the normal certification process, which up to date has been running the normal course,” Woodward said.
The 182 JT-A is scheduled to receive federal certification during the third quarter, which ends in September, with first delivery to follow shortly thereafter.
It’s premature to say whether Wednesday’s incident will affect that schedule, Woodward said.
The plane is still being inspected, he said, but “it appears to have not suffered any significant damage.”
The 230-horsepower diesel engine is made by French engine-maker SMA, a division of Safran.
Many airplane development programs experience a mishap along the way, said Teal Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia. That typically can set the program back a bit. But “it doesn’t mean the design is flawed; it’s just something that happens,” Aboulafia said.
Cessna introduced the four-seat 182 that runs on jet fuel in mid-2012 as the industry pushes to find a replacement for leaded aviation gasoline.
Eventually, Cessna has said it plans to replace its T182Ts coming off the production line at its Independence plant with the 182 JT-A.
With the jet fuel, the $515,000 airplane will routinely burn 30 to 40 percent less fuel than comparable avgas engines on the same mission, the company has said.
At normal cruise, it can burn 11 gallons an hour and fly nonstop for more than seven hours. At a low power setting, it can stay in the air 14 to 16 hours, Cessna said.