Efficiency record set by SMA-engined 182

The world’s first Aeroplane Efficiency record has been submitted to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the body which governs air sports including records. The record is for an efficiency of 15.1 nautical miles per US gallon – that’s 3.98nm per litre or 9km per kg of fuel.

The claimed record was set by Ross McCurdy, a teacher, and Thierry Saint Loup of SMA Engines, flying a Cessna 182 equipped with a SMA turbodiesel aero engine. They took off from Essex County airport in New Jersey on 12 July and flew a triangular course of 848nm. It was completed in 9.1 hours using 56 gallons of jet fuel.

Cessna 182 SMA record
Thierry Saint Loup (left) and Ross McCurdy after completing the Fuel Efficiency World Record Flight at Essex County Airport Caldwell, New Jersey.

The flight was completed near max gross weight in a standard, FAA certified configuration without any modification that would have required placing it in experimental category, said the team. The SMA engine produces 230bhp and is installed in the 182 under an STC available from Soloy Aviation.

“This world record also demonstrates the potential of aviation biofuels and all renewable energy, as the flight was completed using 50% biofuel from the Camelina plant seed oil.”

SMA Engines


  1. I must admit I’m surprised that’s a record – but then they were the first to submit one for that weight category.

    According to my handbook, the book values for a Scottish Aviation Bulldog at AUW of 2300lb ( so just over 1000kg ) at 40% power would give me 89 knots and at 1800 RPM would require 4.8 UK Gallons / hour. That’s a higher miles per gallon (21.3 imp mpg) than the above (20.9 imp mpg) and (if my maths is right) would make it 10.5km/kg, significantly better (and that’s 1960s technology). I assume there are others more efficient? (only issue with the bulldog is the course has to be over 1,515 km which is twice the bulldog’s range, so would need ferry tanks 🙁 )

    1. My Bonanza 35n leaned out at 45% power does 125knots TAS on 8 US gallons an hour. That is 15.6 gallons per mile and a range of 1825nm.

        1. It is refuelled in the Channel Islands mostly. Gets the bill down to £0.97 a litre. At 160 knots it burns 14.2 GPH and the range goes down to 1350nm and the mpg down to 11.2. But with the cost of modernising my 55 year old Bonanza, the fuel bills are the least of its costs!

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