Superior Air Parts

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Superior Air Parts, Incorporated
Private company
Key people
CEO: Keith Chatten
ProductsAircraft engines and parts
OwnerSuperior Aviation Beijing

Superior Air Parts, Inc. is a Chinese-owned manufacturer of aviation piston engine replacement parts, headquartered in Coppell, Texas, United States. The company has been owned by Superior Aviation Beijing since 2010.


Superior Air Parts started as a manufacturer of valve guides in 1967. The company branched out into FAA/PMA approved parts for general aviation aircraft. The company manufactures replacement parts for Lycoming and Continental aircraft engines. The cylinder assemblies use newer cylinder head alloys and fully hardened cylinder liners.[1] Most of the company's production is outsourced, with Superior ensuring that the parts meet their engineering and testing standards.[2]

The company was bought by the German engine manufacturer Thielert, in 2006. Thielert was seeking a parts distribution network in North America, as part of its effort to sell its Centurion diesel aircraft engine series. Thielert already had a business relationship with Superior, as it had been engaged in the production of Superior's after-market engine cylinders.[3]

In 2008, Superior Air Parts' parent company Thielert declared bankruptcy, Superior itself filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on 31 December 2008 and laid off many of its staff. In August 2010, Superior was sold to Superior Aviation Beijing for US$7M. Superior Aviation Beijing is 60% owned by Superior Aviation Beijing Chairman Cheng Shenzong and 40% by Beijing E-Town, an economic development agency of Beijing's municipal government. Tim Archer, the former marketing and sales VP for Superior became the new CEO for the US subsidiary and oversaw the establishment of a piston engine production facility in Beijing.[4][5][6][7][8]

At AirVenture 2012 CEO Tim Archer announced that the company was recovering from its bankruptcy and that the Chinese investment had been critical in that turn around. The company was at that time able to ship almost 90% of parts in its catalog and was training Chinese technicians in Vantage engine production for the Asian market.[9]

In March 2019 the Superior Air Parts XP-400 and Superior Air Parts XP-382 engines were withdrawn from service and all customer engines were subject to a mandatory, immediate buy-back by the company to remove them from service. The company made this decision based on detonation problems found in some XP-400 engines that could not be resolved. Due to parts commonality, the decision was made to buy-back the XP-382 engines as well.[10][11]


The company has developed a series of non-certified engines for light-sport aircraft and homebuilt aircraft, including the 160 hp (119 kW) XP-320, 180 hp (134 kW) XP-360, 200 hp (149 kW) XP-382 and the 215 hp (160 kW) XP-400. A line of diesel engines is under development, including the 100 hp (75 kW) Gemini Diesel 100 and 125 hp (93 kW) Gemini Diesel 125.[12]

The XP-360 was developed into a certified engine design, the Superior O-360, marketed as the Vantage and certified in 2004.[13][14]


Summary of engines built by Superior Air Parts
Model name First run Number built Type
Superior Air Parts Vantage Type certified, four cylinder, horizontally-opposed, air-cooled aircraft engine
Superior Air Parts XP-320 Four cylinder, horizontally-opposed, air-cooled aircraft engine
Superior Air Parts XP-360 Four cylinder, horizontally-opposed, air-cooled aircraft engine
Superior Air Parts XP-382 Four cylinder, horizontally-opposed, air-cooled aircraft engine
Superior Air Parts XP-400 Four cylinder, horizontally-opposed, air-cooled aircraft engine
Superior Air Parts Gemini Diesel 100 Three cylinder, liquid-cooled diesel aircraft engine
Superior Air Parts Gemini Diesel 125 Three cylinder, liquid-cooled diesel aircraft engine


  1. ^ J. Mac Mclellan (August 1996). "A Superior Solution?". Flying.
  2. ^ "Talking About GPS, PMA". Flying: 8. January 1993.
  3. ^ Bertorelli, Paul (24 April 2008). "Thielert's Board is Steamed, and Here's Why That's Not Good". AVweb. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  4. ^ Grady, Mary (7 January 2009). "Thielert Recovering From Insolvency, Company Says". AVweb. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  5. ^ Bertorelli, Paul (5 January 2009). "Superior Chapter 11: Still Shipping Parts, For Now". AVweb. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  6. ^ Bertorelli, Paul (2 August 2010). "Superior Airparts Returns with Chinese Funding". AVweb. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  7. ^ The Associated Press (13 July 2012). "The 'Helicopter King Of China' Is Quietly Building An Empire". Business Insider. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  8. ^ Whyte, Alasdair (24 October 2012). "Update: Superior Aviation's bid for Hawker Beechcraft died in Beijing". Corporate Jet Investor. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  9. ^ Bertorelli, Paul (15 July 2012). "Superior Air Parts: Uptick in Sales Fuels Recovery". AVweb. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  10. ^ O'Connor, Kate (1 March 2019). "Superior Grounds XP-382 And XP-400 Engines". AVweb. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  11. ^ Cook, Marc (1 March 2019). "Detonation Concerns Behind Superior's Buyback Of XP-400 And XP-382 Engines". AVweb. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  12. ^ Tacke, Willi; Marino Boric; et al: World Directory of Light Aviation 2015-16, pages 262-263. Flying Pages Europe SARL, 2015. ISSN 1368-485X
  13. ^ Escobar, Joe (1 May 2004). "New Kid on Block". Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  14. ^ Federal Aviation Administration (31 March 2004). "Type certificate" (PDF). Retrieved 17 April 2018.

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