AVIC International, the Chinese holding company that owns Continental Motors, announced today that it has acquired the assets of Germany’s bankrupt Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH, and formed a new company to produce the Centurion line of engines in Germany.
Technify Motors is a newly formed subsidiary of AVIC (the Thielert name has been dropped), and will work together with Alabama-based Continental to produce, sell and service a full line of jet-A-burning piston engines.
The acquisition adds the 135 hp and 155 hp Centurion 2.0-liter series, as well as the certified (but not yet produced) 350 hp 4.0 engine. All burn jet-A, a capability seen as a vital component for worldwide operation, especially in China, where AVIC hopes to expand the market for piston aircraft operations.
Last month Thielert founder and former CEO Frank Thielert was arrested and is being held in jail as a flight risk. The German bankruptcy court has charged him with fraud in misrepresenting the value and financial assets of his company while seeking investors. He faces the prospect of several years in prison. In 2008, he lost control of the company he founded, and it has been administered by a court-appointed asset manager ever since.
Formed in 2002, Thielert developed diesel engines that performed well, but the company was never able to expand the time between overhauls beyond 1,500 hours. In addition, a recurring 300-hour gearbox inspection was costly and inconvenient. Thielert was also unable to establish an effective and responsive service network, and parts costs grew to unsustainable levels.
Rhett Ross, Continental Motors president, said, “This acquisition adds excellent engine technology to the Continental Motors brand that significantly accelerates product offerings that can compete in the global market. We look forward to working with our new sister company to become an integrated leader in global aircraft piston engine products.”