12:03 PM

Is a marriage
in Cessna's future?

Cessna Aircraft Company has been showing an increasingly loving relationship with the Germany’s Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH, because Thielert's diesel GA engines represent the best look at our Jet-A powered future. And with pressures always increasing that good ol' 100LL may go the way of the dinosaurs that fossilized theirselves to create the fuel, I believe Jet-A will one day be the solution to solidifying our GA fuel supply.

And it looks like Cessna might agree, because last week they announced it has reached an agreement to “collaborate on future programs” centered on the Thielert diesel engine. Details are scheduled to be announced later this year.

There have already been a couple of hints that Cessna sees diesel power as GA's future. You can now get Van Bortel Cessna in Texas to install an STC'ed Thielert Centurion engine in brand new Skyhawks, and there have been plenty of rumors floated that Cessna's new NGP (next-generation piston) will end up with a Thielert under the cowl right from the factory.

Both Thielert and Cessna have came out with glowing quotes for one another, proof that their marriage is all but consummated:

From Cessna: “We think the Thielert engine may provide a very worthwhile power option for many of our customers since it runs on jet fuel and diesel,” said Cessna Vice President, Worldwide Propeller Aircraft Sales John Doman. “We have had discussions with Frank Thielert and his group for some time, and we think the time is right to move forward.”

From Thielert: “We have a number of products that are of interest to Cessna and we are excited to be moving forward in our relationship,” said Frank Thielert, CEO of Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH. “The benefits are documented, so we have great confidence the customers of Cessna would be pleased with the savings and reliability.”
Thielert's line of diesel GA engines do make a lot of sense on paper, and have proven to be quite a performer when hung as standard equipment on Diamond's DA-42 twin, and as a retrofit on a number of popular GA airframes. The Centurion engines feature low fuel consumption, electronic engine control systems, and improved hot-and-high engine performance.

I personally love the idea of Jet-A power in a GA plane. Some day, years from now, when I am old and even more gray then I am now, I will sit my great-great grandchild on my lap, and tell the story of “back in the day”...in a decade called the '90s long ago, when you actually had to apply something called “carb heat” to keep ice from forming on a long-forgotten GA engine device called a carburetor. I will explain that on a long taxi out, pilots would have to keep something called “spark plugs” from fouling. The young one on my lap will look up with inquisitive eyes and ask ”Doodah – that seems to be my assigned grandpa name – why didn't those old planes just have diesel engines like all the planes have today?”

“Some did,” I will answer, “they were called Cessna NGPs.”

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