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Thu, Apr 02, 2009

Troubled Enginemaker Is 'Thielert' No More

Centurion Aircraft Engines "Unaffected By Insolvency Proceedings"

German officials tell ANN the reorganization of insolvent German aircraft engine manufacturer Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH is progressing, albeit slowly... with a new company formed to oversee the troubled company's assets as insolvency administrator Bruno M. Kübler seeks to find a qualified buyer for them.

Kübler announced Thursday at AERO Friedrichshafen he recently transferred the company's operations to he newly-established Centurion Aircraft Engines AG & Co. KG, a company that is unaffected by the insolvency proceedings.

Centurion will now be responsible for global sales of Centurion diesel engines and spare parts... but its primary challenge may be courting OEM manufacturers such as Diamond Aircraft and Cessna, soured in their dealings with the former company.

"Centurion can quickly establish itself on the market without the burden of the insolvency stigma," Kübler said. "At the same time, end customers will be provided with a high measure of security."

The chairman of the board of the new company is Jasper M. Wolffson, formerly sales director at Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH. "The establishment of Centurion represents a crucial step toward development of our leading market position," Wolffson said. "When it comes to experience and technology, we continue to have a great advantage over the competition: With permits and various STCs for our Centurion engines 1.7, 2.0 and the Centurion 4.0 and as an independent engine manufacturer we are able to supply a broad range of customers both in the retrofit and in the OEM business. We want to develop this leading position and now take the offensive in sales as well."

The company notes over 2,000 Thielert Centurion engines are in operation, with more than 1.5 million flying hours in Diamond, Piper, Robin and Cessna aircraft.

Centurion also took the opportunity to jab a new competitor. The company noted the recently-certified Austro Engines AE 300 -- a program developed after Diamond's much-publicized falling out with Thielert, that left many DA42 Twin Stars grounded and in need of parts -- is both slightly larger and heavier than the Centurion engine it replaced in the DA42 lineup.

Centurion, the company, says the engine is "basically only suited as a drive for the DA 42 NG, a model which was specially developed for it."

An extended warranty for Centurion end customers is also connected with establishment of the new company: It will be uniformly fixed for two years for all newly manufactured Centurion engines and spare parts and issued directly to end customers. The warranty will apply independently of whether the end customer purchased the engine through Centurion distributors, Centurion service centers or airplane manufacturers.

"This represents clear progress, particularly in the latter case, and also provides relief to both distributors and service centers," said Wolffson. As was previously the case warranties will be processed via Centurion service centers.

Furthermore, end customers who buy a newly-manufactured Centurion 2.0 engine in the future will receive a one-time free transmission and clutch after 300 hours of operation -- addressing a concern with the durability of the current component. The upgraded transmission assembly will be rated for 600 hours, according to Centurion.

Kübler acknowledged has not been able to find a private purchaser for the assets of TAE. "TAE is basically a healthy company - and TAE can even become completely healthy to the core," said Kübler, adding that, due to the current global economy, "unforeseeable delays have occurred in the process to find an investor."

FMI: www.centurion-engines.com

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