Compression Ignition (Diesel/Jet A)

2022 Engine Buyer's Guide



Thanks to their complex and high-pressure nature, diesel (Jet A) burning piston engines are premium devices full of expensive parts, and their penetration into the amateur-built world is essentially nil, no matter the manufacturer. Some sophisticated, powerful and very fuel-efficient Jet A reciprocating engines have been developed, but their newness and high initial cost means they’ve barely penetrated the military drone market to date.

Continental CD-155. (Image: Continental)

Meanwhile, Continental has a surprisingly well-populated line of certified diesels as they’ve bought diesel programs started by Thielert, Austro and other European outfits. At least technically these engines are suited to larger homebuilt aircraft (they’ve been used on Cessna 182s, for example), but their economics make them viable only after flying many hours, not the typical sport plane operating profile.

HIGGS Diesel

Like you, other than display models, we had not seen one of the new, groundbreaking HIGGS diesel engines operating by the time we went to press. But HIGGS reported in the fall of 2021, “The HIGGS engines will arrive in the U.S. at the end of Q1 2022. We are currently assembling the various models in Japan for that delivery period.” Furthermore, while the company would not take deposits for HIGGS engines during the majority of last year, they were last autumn due to the engine’s readiness.

Falcon FL200J/G (Image: Higgs Diesel)

We’re certainly eager to inspect and get a full technical briefing on the HIGGS design. It’s a very innovative concept marrying attributes of both two- and four-stroke operation. The central concept is a 2-stroke engine breathing through ports (no traditional poppet valves or valve train) with radically different piston/pumping units that, among other things, seal the crankcase from the combustion chamber thus allowing full pressure oiling to the bottom end.

The result is very vertically compact, valveless engines with a conventional spark ignition system burning almost any fuel—but designed for Jet A. Yes, it burns Jet A using spark plugs. HIGGS lists six varieties of upright and inverted vee configurations, ranging from sensible 115-hp V-4s up to a rousing upright, turbo V-12 boasting well over 1600 hp. All these engines claim stellar power-to-weight characteristics, as expected from what is essentially a two-stroke engine. There are certainly fundamental gains to be had from the cylinder design—no exhaust valve for example—should it all work as promised. Definitely one for early adopters.

Continental Motors
CD-135geared135 hp @ 3890 rpm295.4 lb with accessories, dual FADECKit program only
CD-155geared155 hp @ 3890 rpm295.4 lb with accessories, dual FADECKit program only
CD-230direct235 hp @ 2200 rpm450 lb with accessoriesBeta program
HIGGS Diesel
Swift FL150J/Ggeared115 hp @ 5300 rpm147 lb, inverted V-4$25,000
Swift FL150J/G-Tgeared130 hp @ 5300 rpm187 lb, inverted V-4$40,000
Falcon FL200J/Ggeared210 hp @ 5300 rpm165 lb, inverted V-4$45,000
Falcon FL200J/G-Tgeared250 hp @ 5300 rpm205 lb, inverted V-4$60,000
Hawk E330J/Ggeared350 hp @ 5300 rpm306 lb, upright V-4$58,000
Hawk E330J/G-Tgeared500 hp @ 5300 rpm339 lb, upright V-4$78,000
Eagle E660J/Ggeared650 hp @ 5300 rpm512 lb, upright V-8$180,000
Eagle E660J/G-Tgeared800 hp @ 5300 rpmTBD, upright V-8TBD
Condor E1000J/Ggeared1200 hp @ 5300 rpm664 lb, upright V-12$216,000
Condor E1000J/G-Tgeared1600 hp @ 5300 rpm714 lb, upright V-12$266,000


  1. What happened to the obligatory annual DeltaHawk writeup? It is a KitPlanes tradition dating back to the 20th century. I was hoping for at least one paragraph that ends with:

    “Company executives expect to start production of the revolutionary new engine in the fourth quarter of this year.”

  2. Does Continental really sell to Joe Schmoe Vans builder though? I sent an RFQ through their website, but I’m not expecting a response.

    • There is a RV10 flying (+-2 years already)in the USA with a Continental CD230 Diesel power plant for evaluation purposes. Was nuilt by an airline commander. It was available on Youtube and also at Air Venture in 2021.


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