China buys Thielert diesel engine company out of bankruptcy

Purchase made by AVIC which owns Continental

July 23, 2013

The company Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has bought Thielert Aircraft Engines out of bankruptcy in Germany, adding it to a stable of manufacturers that includes Continental Motors and Cirrus Aircraft.

Continental now has a full family of diesel engines. Continental’s 230-horsepower diesel engine certified in December 2012 is now part of a complete family of diesel engines that Continental President Rhett Ross said will all be marketed under the Centurion name. Gasoline engines will continue to be marketed with the O/IO/TSIO moniker, he added.

"All engines, gasoline or diesel will be marketed under the Continental Brand and can be ordered directly from our 1-800 number or website," Ross said in an email. "We will be working over the next few weeks to better integrate sales and support functions so that we can operate on a global basis."

Thielert (to be known in the future as Technify Motors) manufactures 135- and 155-hp diesel engines. Before bankruptcy, Thielert mounted a 350-hp diesel prototype engine on several Cessna 206 aircraft. Development was stalled during the Thielert bankruptcy. Thielert has a distribution and warranty company called Centurion that was created as part of German bankruptcy regulations. Both will be under the Technify Motors banner.

Ross says in a special AOPA Pilot report on diesel technology in the August issue that his company has staked its future on diesel engines. That also means the company has staked its future on foreign sales, since it is expected that worldwide sales of diesel engines will far outpace those in the United States. That’s another point made in the special Pilot report, "Will we all be flying diesels?“

Observers had expected the purchase by AVIC would be completed in March, but one industry observer said Germany wanted to move cautiously on deals with China.

Continental’s 230-hp engine is based on first-generation SMA technology. The type certificate says that engine is limited to 12,500 feet, but that altitude is expected to quickly increase. SMA shared its diesel secrets, but Continental made its own parts for the engine. Customers for the engine may be announced at EAA AirVenture 2013.

In 2008 there were 24 bidders for Thielert, but the economic crisis caused a delay in the sale.

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.