China purchases Superior Air Parts

August 2, 2010

Superior Air Parts is back in business and out from under the bankruptcy cloud created by the failure of Germany’s Thielert Aircraft Engines diesel-engine company, a firm now in recovery. (At the time of Thielert’s bankruptcy, a decision was made to sell Superior Air Parts.) The Texas firm was purchased by a Chinese technology group in partnership with the Chinese government.

At one point Avco, a Textron subsidiary, had tried to purchase Superior Air Parts. That effort failed as it neared completion.

The Chinese portion of the company is to be called Superior Aviation with a plant near Beijing building the XP series of engines for homebuilt aircraft for only the Chinese and Asian markets. When Superior’s Vantage engine is certified in the United States and China, it will also be built in the new plant. No engines will be shipped to the United States. The company will also be the selling arm for Superior’s parts manufacturing approval (PMA) piece parts and components for China and Asia.

XP and Vantage engines delivered in the United States will be built by U.S. subcontractors and assembled at the Superior Air Parts factory in Coppell, Texas. Superior Air Parts is now a subsidiary of Superior Aviation in China. Tim Archer, former CEO of Superior Air Parts, returns as the CEO and is responsible for setting up the new plant in China as well as directing research and certification for future engines and products in Texas.

The firm’s president, Kent Abercrombie, will remain with the firm along with his present team.

“Kent Abercrombie and the team at Superior have done a great job of seeing the company through its recent bankruptcy issues,” Archer said. “Now that the company is fully funded and poised for a bright future, our goal is to quickly reestablish the company as the leading provider of FAA PMA’d aftermarket cylinders, components, and piece parts, as well as the Vantage and XP engines. Once that is done, we can begin an aggressive new product development program.”

China is taking steps to open its tightly controlled airspace to general aviation, and is improving its airport infrastructure.

The XP series includes engines of 150 horsepower to 200 hp, using engines of 320, 360, and 400 cubic inches. The Vantage engine deliveries could start by the end of 2010, Archer said.

As CEO of Superior Aviation, Beijing, Archer will oversee day-to-day operations, including directing the completion of the 14,400-square-foot (1,340-square-meter) state-of-the-art piston engine production facility in Beijing, China.

“To get in on the ground floor and help build the Superior brand in China and Asia is a tremendously exciting opportunity for me,” Archer said. “When the current ownership group purchased Superior Air Parts, they had a clear vision of the growth potential for Superior’s family of general aviation engines, components, and piece parts in the growing Chinese and Asian markets. My goal is to ensure their vision will be realized.

“Let me be 100-percent clear on this point,” Archer stated. “Superior Air Parts U.S. is the flagship of this organization’s global efforts. Superior’s U.S. headquarters will serve as the central point for the engineering, development, FAA certification, and production of our new-generation engine products.

“Superior’s ownership group doesn’t only want to be involved with general aviation, they want our engines and components to set a new standard for innovation, performance, and efficiency. Our long-range plan is for Superior Aviation, Beijing and Superior Air Parts Inc., to be a true industry innovator; not only with products based on Superior’s proven family of piston engines, but also by introducing a new generation of alternate fueled engines.”

Headquartered in Beijing, Superior Aviation is the GA division of a joint venture between Weifang Tianxiang Technology Group and the People’s Republic of China. Superior Air Parts Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Superior Aviation, Beijing, is a leading manufacturer of FAA-approved aftermarket replacement parts for Lycoming and Continental aircraft engines.

Al Marsh

Alton K. Marsh | AOPA Pilot Senior Editor, AOPA

AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.