News, facts, and comments on the coming revolution for piston-engine aircraft.
In 1998, one diesel engine flew on a converted airplane for the first time since 1945. Today, close to 4,000 singles and twins are flying. This is the beginning of a worldwide trend which will eventually allow a rebirth of the piston-engined aircraft, around new specs and new missions.
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News of April 11, 2009
News from Thielert-Centurion ...
We received the following information from Sebastian Glaser, in charge of press relations with Thielert Engines, now Centurion: There are about 1,250 airplanes presently equipped with various Thielert engines. The number of CENTURION 2.0 litre engines currently flying in General Aviation is just over 1,000. The CENTURION V8 4.0liter project is currently on hold. There is, however, a large potential for the Cessna 206 for which Thielert already has obtained an STC.
posted at 7:21 PM
Diamond Air: Re-engined Diesel Twin Star EASA Certified
According to AVWeb, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified the Diamond DA42 NG, which is powered by Diamond s own 170-horsepower Austro 300 diesel. The certification came less than a year after Thielert, whose engines powered first generation Twin Stars, became insolvent, resulting in serious maintenance issues for DA42 owners. The EASA certification means Diamond can start delivering Twin Stars again in Europe (it has 40 on the line) and also start turning its attention to retrofits for existing owners who want to swap out their Thielerts. 'We are focusing our efforts to achieve the certification of the optional upgrade of all delivered DA42s with the Austro Engine, such that all customers can benefit from these improvements along with comprehensive customer support for their engines,' said Diamond CEO Christian Dries. Although the EASA certification is valid only in Europe, it should be fairly straightforward to get it recognized everywhere else, and Dries said Diamond is working on it. Dries says that even though the new engine pumps out 20 percent more horsepower, it actually delivers better fuel economy than the Thielerts while giving the aircraft a higher gross weight and better performance. As part of the NG package, the new DA42s come with Garmin GFC 700 autopilot, and they're ready for Garmin synthetic vision. The initial TBO of the new engine is 1,000 hours, but Dries said the goal is to extend that to 2,000 hours. It's not clear how that will translate to North American customers where the Thielerts are on a 1,000-hour TBR (time before replacement). The company is also working on a maintenance program that will undoubtedly address some of the cost and AOG time spans that affected Thielert operators. (AVWeb 4/11/09)
Comments: Thielert claims that the Austro engine is only certified for the new DA42NG specially modified to accommodate it, and cannot be retrofitted on an older DA42, or even less DA40 diesel or Cessna 172Thielert. Anyone who can provide information on this contradiction is welcome. Meanwhile, the continuing dispute between Diamond and Thielert is not very helpful. As well, Christian Dries claims that the Austro engine is 20% more fuel efficient than the Thielert. It may be true since the Thielert was not very convincing in terms of Specific Fuel Consumption (SFC), but 20% is a lot. We would prefer to know data on the SFC, and better know the fuel flow at best glide speed.
posted at 6:40 PM
News of April 05, 2009
Thielert administrator forms Centurion sales and support entity – Comments
The administrator for insolvent German aircraft engine manufacturer Thielert Aircraft Engines has established a separate company dedicated to the global sales and marketing of the Centurion diesel engine and spare parts. Centurion Aircraft Engines ‘will be unaffected by the insolvency proceedings’ said administrator Bruno Kuebler at the Aero Friedrichshafen general aviation trade show on 2 April. By establishing the new company, Kuebler said he is ‘responding to the growing demand in the business with replacement and re-equipped engines for Diamond, Robin, Piper and Cessna aircraft and Centurion can quickly establish itself on the market without the burden of the insolvency stigma.’ Centurion will also be sold as part of the Thielert estate, Kuebler said. To date more than 2,000 Centurion 1.7, 3.0 and 4.0 engines have been sold, accumulating a more than 1.5 million flight hours across the fleet of new and used aircraft. Through the new entity, Centurion is offering a two-year extended warranty on all newly manufactured engines and spare parts. Meanwhile, Thielert continues to seek investors to bring the company out of insolvency, which it entered a year ago. ‘We are not in any hurry to make a quick sale. We are still building engines and Thielert can still generate a modest profit,’ Kuebler said. ‘There are a number of interested parties with whom we are conducting negotiations, but we are willing to wait until the right offer comes along even if it means having to wait until the recession ends.’ (FlightGlobal 4/3/09)
Comments: Bruno Kuebler talks about more than 2,000 Thielert engines sold, in the 1.7, 3.0 and 4.0 liters capacities. We suppose he meant 1.7, 2.0 and 4.0 liters, since the 1.7 liter (135HP) was indeed replaced by a 2 liter (155HP) late in the career of that 4 cylinder engine. We never obtained reliable figures as to how many exactly of each type were manufactured. Our guess is that a very large majority of them were still 1.7 liter. As for the V8 4 liter, to our best knowledge only a few actually reached the flying stage, for instance on the Cessna 206 demos used when seeking an STC, on one or two Cessna 400 series, and at least on one Beech Duke, all for same purposes. We never heard of a 3.0 liter actually flying, although there were, for a short time, some announcements made for a 230HP engine of that capacity.
Thielert – now Centurion – and Austro Engines will therefore go on competing for the supply of very similar 4-cylinders, in line, 4 strokes, liquid cooled and geared diesel engines for the same existing market: Diamond DA 42 (a few of them in the US) and 40s , Cessna 172s, a few Robin DR400 (French), and very few Piper PA28s. We estimate that the total number of diesel airplanes now flying worldwide is 800, out of which the ones addressed by Centurion and Austro is about 700. The 100 difference represents airplanes equipped by SMA, DeltaHawk, and Wilksch, but we may be missing quite a few. As for the 700 Thielert equipped planes, Centurion CEO Jasper Wolffson states that only the DA42s could receive the Austro 300 as a direct substitute. On other planes, the 300, more powerful but heavier than the replaced engine, will not fit. I expect some response from Austro contradicting that and stating that the extra weight is the cost of reliability… Wait and see.
Either of Austro or Centurion alone would have a hard time reversing the very negative reputation of the pre-2008 Thielert engines, resulting of their very poor reliability (multiple incidents with faulty clutches, fuel pumps, gears, valves, cylinder heads, and FADEC…), and the significant liabilities resulting of deficient customer service either from Thielert or from Diamond. The DieselAir Newsletter has been submerged with emails reporting these incidents as well as the number of airplanes grounded, waiting for spare parts. Increasing the reliability of an internal combustion engine, working step by step and component by component all the way through always delivers when you have the time and the money, and when your customers benefit of each step so that they remain loyal. Bruno Kuebler stated at his AERO Friedrichshafen press conference that intensive work is in progress to address one by one each of these maintenance issues and that results are available here and now in the engines they now deliver.
But can it be done with the two firms competing head-on in such a way? I confess I am skeptical, and amazed that Diamond and Thielert could not work out together some kind of alliance; for their benefit first, and for the benefit of the whole industry.
posted at 5:37 PM
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Every month: news, facts, and comments on the coming revolution for piston-engines aircrafts between 130 and 400 HP: Retrofitting a diesel engine to run on Jetfuel or Kerosene, reduce Gallons/Hour by some 30%, eliminate ignition systems (magnetos, spark plugs) and their problems, eliminate mixture control, increase TBO to 2,400-3,000 hours, increase performance between 6,000 and 12,500 ft., and drastically reduce Operating Costs.
The letter is intended for piston engines aircraft owners, manufacturers, fleet operators and FBOs, re-manufacturers of engines for these aircrafts, manufacturers of engine components and ancillaries, and all professionals acting in decisions of engine exchange or refitting at TBO, in North and South America, Pacific Rim, African continent, and all parts of the world were Avgas, Mogas, Kerosene and Jetfuel are available.
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