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Continental powers Diamond DA50, reveals electric interestContinental powers Diamond DA50, reveals electric interest

Continental Aerospace Technologies announced two partnerships during Aero Friedrichshafen in Germany that will allow it to power Diamond Aircraft’s upcoming DA50 and break into the electric propulsion market.

Continental Aerospace Technologies announced an agreement with Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH to equip the Diamond DA50 with a Continental CD-300 engine. Photo by Sylvia Horne.

The Continental CD-300 engine, which uses Jet A fuel and produces 300 horsepower, will power the piston-single DA50, which began flight tests in March. Work continues now on integrating the engine’s dual-channel full authority digital engine control with the DA50’s avionics.

The CD-300 was certified in 2017 and is the third of Continental’s new Jet A piston engines. It can produce its full rated power while burning 9.2 gph and running at 2,300 rpm.

“Matching the CD-300 Jet-A engine with the DA50 aircraft by Diamond Aircraft Industries is a rekindling of the relationship that created the original successful Jet-A piston-powered aircraft,” said Rhett Ross, president and CEO of Continental Aerospace Technologies. “We are pleased that Diamond chose Continental as a partner to bring this product to market.”

“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,” said Liqun (Frank) Zhang, CEO of Diamond Industries GmbH.

The DA50 program has been around since 2006. It was originally envisioned as a five-seater powered by a Continental TSIO-550 engine, but Diamond subsequently decided on an Austro Engine AE300 diesel engine of 170 hp, then went to a seven-seat concept powered by a 465-hp Russian turboprop engine; a 230-hp, then a 260-hp SMA SR305 diesel engine; a 360-hp SMA engine; and a 375-hp Lycoming engine.

At long last, the DA50 seems to have found its engine.

Continental's electric investment

Continental opened its operating envelope at Aero this year by expanding its interests into electric propulsion. It announced it’s investing in Ampaire Inc., a technology innovation company that develops electric aircraft and electric propulsion systems. Ampaire, a startup based in California, is currently testing an electric power system that will ultimately be installed in a Cessna 337 Skymaster for flight tests. The system will also be tested on a “real-world commuter flight route” in Hawaii. After these tests, refinements will be made with the goal of integrating the system in new aircraft designs. A press release said that Ampaire’s talent comes from companies such as Boeing, GM, SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“We are excited about our partnership with the Ampaire team in its development of advanced electric concepts,” Ross said. “Working with a company free of 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.”

Thomas A. Horne

Thomas A. Horne

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
Topics: AERO Friedrichshafen, Power and Fuel, Diesel

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