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Fri, May 02, 2008

Cessna Suspends Introduction Of 172TD

Thielert Troubles Delay Turbodiesel Skyhawk

Chalk it up to bad timing. Seven months after Cessna announced it would sell a model of its storied 172 Skyhawk with a Thielert turbodiesel engine, the planemaker has put the program on hold due to ongoing strife at the troubled German engine supplier.

Introduced with much fanfare at AOPA Expo 2007, Cessna's 172TD was to feature a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) equipped Thielert Centurion 2.0 liter engine, producing 155 horsepower. Cessna noted the Jet-A-fueled model would appeal not only to efficiency-minded pilots in the United States, but also to users in countries where 100LL is tough to come by.

It was a great idea... but Cessna hadn't counted on Thielert's recent woes. As ANN reported, Thielert Aircraft Engines AG filed for insolvency in a German court April 24, and ousted company founder and CEO Frank Thielert, along with former CFO Roswitha Grosser, due to errors with the Thielert's financial statements from 2003-2005, which rendered those statements "probably incorrect and possibly void," according to company documents.

For the moment, the future of Thielert as a company is unclear... making it an unwise bet for Cessna to deliver planes equipped with the company's diesel powerplant to customers.

"We continue to watch the Thielert situation closely," Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver told ANN. "At this point, we have decided that we will not deliver 172TD aircraft during 2008, and we have informed our customers accordingly."

No 172TD models were delivered to US customers, and the planemaker was still in the process of obtaining a type-certificate for the factory installation. Cessna had over 100 orders for the TD model in the books.

With such strong customer interest, this certainly isn't the last we'll hear from Cessna regarding diesel powerplants in its planes... but for the moment, at least, the TD project is out of fuel.

FMI: www.cessna.com, www.thielert.com

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