10:13 PM

Is 'Kerosene'
in Your Future?


They call it “Jet A” over here, and “Kerosene” across the pond in Europe, where a company called Thielert is setting sales records by making the trade's most popular diesel aircraft engines.

Avweb – and other sites on both sides of the Atlantic – are reporting that Thielert is smoking hot right now:

Even if you’re still not convinced that diesels are the piston engine of the future for light aircraft, enough people apparently are that you might want to consider adding Thielert to your stock portfolio. The company recorded an impressive 60-percent increase in sales in the first quarter over the same period last year, and that’s getting some attention in the financial journals in Europe. Of their total revenue of about $32 million in the quarter, about $19 million came from sales of its two and four-liter diesel aircraft engines and the rest came from its technology and prototyping division.
I'm a huge believer in diesel power for GA aircraft. The last time I checked out Thielert, they had certified the Centurion 1.7 135 HP diesel, and were quickly hanging them on New Cessnas and retrofitting them to a number of planes. Great idea I told my self, and then I forgot about Thielert. Well friends, I guess I blinked, because in revisiting the Thielert story today, I was blown away:
Thielert's general aviation powerplants are categorized into three output classes - the Centurion 2.0 with 135 bhp, the Centurion 3.2 with 230 bhp and Centurion 4.0 with 350 bhp. The company aspires to gain new supplemental type certifications for the integration of its powerful Centurion 4.0 into several models built by Cessna. The conversion to the fuel-efficient jet fuel engine is being offered for the single-engine Cessna 206 and the twin engine Cessna 340, 414 and 421. “The Cessna 206, 414, 340 and 421 and widely-used workhorses in general aviation,” explains Frank Thielert. “We are catering to the request of numerous aviation companies of finally being able to refuel with standard aviation jet fuel/ kerosene. In conjunction with the low consumption, the direct running costs are also reduced by around 60 per cent.”
That last quote from Frank Thielert is the money quote from this post. While producing the same ponies that 100LL engines produce, Thielert's kerosene burners go through far fewer dead dinosaurs per air mile. You can already buy brand new 2007 172SPs through Van Bortel in Arlington, Texas, and I suspect that in the coming years, as the oil companies get pressured to eliminate good old blue hundred low-lead, we might all be flying behind diesel power someday.

And when that happens, as is always the case with aircraft engineers, they will come up with some wild designs that incorporate diesel engines into aircraft. Maybe one of the most “out there” is the HPA TT62 Alekto [shown in photo above], a composite diesel twin powered by two Thielert Centurion 4.0 diesel V8 engines that are housed in the rear fuselage, behind the pressurized cabin. The 310 HP engines run on Jet A and are designed to power the TT62 to cruise speeds of well over 200kt.

Hmmm, maybe that's not such an “out there” idea after all.

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