NBAA Convention News

Pilot Report: Piper’s Diesel-powered Archer DX

 - November 12, 2015, 9:00 AM
Piper's diesel-powered Archer DX

Piper Aircraft (C8509) began U.S. deliveries of the DX version of the single-engine Archer following FAA validation in April of the EASA-approved supplemental type certificate to replace the original avgas Lycoming engine with a compression ignition engine.

What makes the new Piper Archer DX different from any other Archer? A lot and nothing at all. Up front there’s aThe Archer DX’s new jet-A burning, 155-horsepower Continental Motors CD-155 turbodiesel enginedrives a, three-blade MT composite, constant-speed propeller, and the engine is approved to run on jet-A or ordinary diesel fuel. Engine control is via a single Fadec and single Fadec thrust-lever, and other than the new powerplant and its controls and some instruments, from the instrument panel back, it’s pretty much a stock Archer. . Aft of the panel, it’s pretty much stock.

Operationally, but for a few differences, it’s all Archer. During thea pre-flight inspectionfor a recent flight, Piper’s chief pilot, Bart Jones , walkedshowed me through some of themhow the DX’s preflight differs from the avgas Archer’s. Key differences included, including a check of thefor sufficient ship’s battery power for the engine start (ground power starts are prohibited), and the need to checking the gearbox oil and to makemaking sure the fuel tanks are full of we have beige jet-A not blue 100LL in the tanks.

As promised, the diesel engine is push-button easy to start. Thrust lever back to idle, flip on the battery, let the glow control light go out and press and hold the overhead starter button.

Run-up is just as easy: power to idle and press the Fadec tTest bButton; t. The dual-channel Fadec computers do the restrun a complete self-test. The last last check is to push the power throttle to the stops, then check for. You need to see at least 94 percent power with the tach showing 2,240 to 2,300 rpm. Once done, we set takeoff flaps to two notches (25 degrees),, which is the normal takeoff setting for the DX. The 25-degree flaps setting is the short-field takeoff configuration in the avgas Archer.

According to the POHflight manual, the avgas Archer needs 1,700 feet of runway to clear a 50-foot obstacle. With flaps at 25 degrees, the 155-hp DX would need 1,673 feet of concrete.

Cleared for takeoff, I advanced the thrust lever to the stops and just flew off as I would in any other Archeraccelerated and lifted off. There was no difference in handling from a normal Archer.

While the diesel engine lacks that get-up-and-go feel of the Lycoming, thanks to the constant-speed MT propeller thanks to the constant-speed propellerand , even with 25 fewer horses under the cowling, the DX will out-climb the standard model, according to the POHflight manual.

Of course, you can’t talkthe big advantage of the diesel engine without mentioningis fuel economy. Jones pointed out that you really don’t seethe big advantagesfuel consumption is even lower at until you get up higher altitudes, which makes sense because after all, this is a turbocharged engine. We leveled off at 5,500 feet and I set the power at 70 percent. Once the Archer aircraft stabilized, the G1000 primary flight display’s airspeed indicator indicated 101 knots, with a true airspeed of 112 knots. Fuel flow was just under 6.0.0 gph. In By comparison, an avgas Archer would be averagingaverage about around 10.0.0 gph.

So, aWith a full load of 48 gallons of jet-A, would give us an endurance would extend to of eight -hours.

Like everything else in this airplane, airwork is fun. Pitch felt a bit heavy to me. As expected, stalls were a non-event.

One thing diesel difference that really stands out when you fly thein the Archer DX is the diesel’s engine’s smoothness and lack of of engine noise. At cruise, Jones and I were able to remove our headsets and hold a regular conversation.

With At a list price of $399,495 the Archer DX is over about $40,000 more expensive than a similarly equipped Lycomingavgas-powered Archer LX model. And While the yes the CD-155 does have a relatively low 1,200 hour TBR (time between removal)–which Continental is working diligently to raise–but even with those points, the diesel-powered DX gives you anburns less fuel and performs better at higher altitudes. For flight schools and pilots needing the flexibility of advanced training airplane with the flexibility to burn more widely available jet-A in countries where avgas is expensive or unavailable, the Archer DX . That’s an unbeatable combination in many parts of the world.might just be the right airplane for the job.