|Fate||Sold to Continental Motors, Inc., July 2013|
|Bruno M. Kubler - Insolvency Administrator|
|Products||Aircraft Diesel engines|
|Owner||Government of the People's Republic of China|
|Subsidiaries||Centurion Aircraft Engines, Superior Air Parts|
Thielert AG was a German financial holding company that has owned engine development and manufacturing companies. It is headquartered in Hamburg. Companies owned were Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH with sites in Lichtenstein, Saxony and Altenburg, Thuringia. Thielert AG was quoted on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and was a member of the SDAX. The main operating unit, Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH, declared insolvency on 24 April 2008. The company was run by an insolvency administrator, Bruno M. Kübler, from 2008 until July 2013 when it was sold to Continental Motors, Inc.. Continental is owned by AVIC International, which is in turn wholly owned by the Government of the People's Republic of China.
The holding company, Thielert AG, also filed insolvency a week later on 30 April 2008 after the loss of its operational unit Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH. The holding company ceased operations in autumn of 2008.
Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH was well known as the manufacturer of the Centurion range of aircraft Diesel engines that run on jet fuel. Two engine models were built, the Centurion 2.0 with a power output of either 135 hp (101 kW) and the Centurion 2.0s with 155 hp (116 kW). The development of the third model, a 350 hp (261 kW) Centurion 4.0, was not completed. A fourth model, the 230 hp (172 kW) Centurion 3.2 was announced for 2008, but its final development was cancelled.
New built aircraft equipped with Thielert Centurion engines include:
- Diamond DA40 Diamond Star (Centurion 2.0)
- Diamond DA42 Twin Star (Centurion 2.0)
- Apex Aircraft's Robin DR400 135 CDI Ecoflyer (Centurion 2.0)
- Cessna 172 Skyhawk TD (Centurion 2.0 S) — Development suspended May 2008
A third field of activity is contract engine development and manufacture of engine parts for prototypes and small series for the automotive industry.
From the start of serial production in 2002 to 2010, over 3,000 Centurion engines have been made which have collected over 2.5 million flight hours. Currently are 350 to 400 engines are produced each year.
On 6 March 2008 Thielert's financial statements for 2003, 2004 and 2005 were nullified by a Hamburg court, on the basis that the company had breached valuation provisions. As a result of these events the company's stock dropped to a record low of 0.36 Euro from previous highs of 25.22 Euro on the German stock market.
On 23 April 2008 it was announced that the company Board of Directors had dismissed "with cause" company founder Frank Thielert and also cancelled his employment contract, due to evidence found during a criminal investigation by the Hamburg Office of Criminal Investigation. The allegations included that false invoices had been written, which were used to boost accounts receivable and create the appearance of a better financial position for the company. The board also dismissed Chief Financial Officer Roswitha Grosser and sold off 24.4 million Euros to cover immediate financial requirements.
In April 2008 a stockholder restructuring plan was put on hold and as a result on 24 April 2008 Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH — responsible for all engine production — filed for insolvency at the Chemnitz County Court. As the situation deepened, the Thierlert board stated on 26 April 2008: "The going concern of Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH can only be ensured permanently by restructuring activities with the support of investors, due to the fact that the Holding Thielert AG is not capable to do so anymore." The company announced that it would name a new executive board and an interim insolvency trustee.
On 1 May 2008 the board appointed a new CEO, lawyer Marcel Kleib and lawyer Achim Ahrendt of Hamburg was appointed to oversee the insolvency proceedings. On 5 May 2008 bankruptcy administrator attorney Bruno M. Kubler issued a letter to company customers indicating that the business would continue to operate producing engines and parts, meet existing orders, to preserve its capability to reorganize. On 14 May 2008 Thielert announced that it would no longer honour existing engine warranties for engines installed in Diamond Aircraft and also dramatically increased the price of parts. Owners who required warranty work were required to pay cash in advance for parts. This announcement caused an immediate negative reaction from Diamond DA42 owners and also from Diamond Aircraft.
On 18 June 2008 the company announced that it was resuming production of all its Diesel engine products, with a production target of 80 units per month. Thielert guaranteed the new engines against defective materials and labor, but parts prices remained at the previously announced high levels.
On 10 July 2008 Diamond Aircraft announced that it was dropping out of the bidding to purchase Thielert, citing that Thielert withheld key information "vital to the due diligence process", although Thielert disagreed. On Friday 11 July 2008, Thielert issued a press release stating: "the reasons Diamond is presenting for its non-participation are clearly pretext". Thielert implied that Diamond was not a serious prospective buyer and that "Diamond's actions clearly serve the purpose of derogating Thielert's reputation in the naive assumption to be able to subsequently purchase Thielert far under value."
As part of its insolvency, Thielert indicated that it would not honor warranties or inspect and replace life-limited parts as was the case when the engines were sold to customers. This change in policy has resulted in Thielert-powered aircraft being grounded or no longer economically viable to fly. In November 2008 Diamond Aircraft CEO Peter Maurer said the insolvency commissioner responsible for Thielert's restructuring has come to understand that the eventual sale of the company will depend on product support. This led to Thielert reducing the cost of parts and actively working on extending inspection and replacement requirements for gearbox clutches as well as other parts.
In January 2009, Bruno M. Kübler, Thielert's insolvency administrator announced that the company was, "in the black and working to capacity". On 6 April 2009 the company announced that insolvency administrator had "transferred the company's operative new business to a company that is unaffected by the insolvency proceedings". The new company Centurion Aircraft Engines is responsible for sales of Centurion diesel engines and spare parts, worldwide.
At the end of November 2010 the company was making a profit and actively seeking new investors. Kübler indicated that major lending institutions have loosened credit enough that investment is more likely than it was in 2008 or 2009.
Frank Thielert was arrested and jailed in mid June 2013 as a flight risk, by a German bankruptcy court judge. Thielert faces several years in prison for fraud in misrepresenting the value and financial position of the company during attempts to find buyers and investors.
On 23 July 2013 the company was sold to Continental Motors, Inc.. Continental is owned by AVIC International, which is in turn wholly owned by the Government of the People's Republic of China. Thielert will be renamed Technify Motors GmbH. Continental will use Chinese investment to continue development of the company's products, with an emphasis on extending gearbox inspection periods initially.
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- 23 June edition, Aviation Week & Space Technology, page 29-30
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- Grady, Mary (19 June 2013). "Thielert Founder Jailed As Trial Proceeds (Updated)". AVweb. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
- Bertorelli, Paul (2013-07-30). "Continental Motors: Diesel Improvements Already Afoot - AVweb flash Article". Avweb.com. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
- www.thielert.com — Thielert Aviation Engines GmbH
- www.centurion-engines.com — Centurion Aircraft Engines AG & Co. KG
- www.superiorairparts.com — Superior Air Parts, Inc.