July 23, 2013
Credit: General Atomics
China’s AVIC International has bought German aircraft engine manufacturer Thielert in a move that further broadens the group’s general aviation portfolio.
Thielert’s insolvency administrator confirmed the deal on July 23, saying the company would be relaunched as Technify Motors, with operations remaining in Germany. Neither side disclosed details about the acquisition cost.
The German company is building its Centurion Diesel engine that is powered by kerosene rather than avgas. Thielert has found many general aviation as well as military applications for its engines, which may give rise to concerns about Chinese ownership. The company’s engines are used on the MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV, a derivative of the General Atomics Predator developed for the U.S. Army, and on earlier military versions of the Diamond Aircraft DA42.
AVIC has already bought itself a sizeable presence in general aviation with investments in Continental Motors and Cirrus. The Thielert acquisition ensures that AVIC now has access to an even broader range of general aviation engine technology.
Originally a family-owned business, Thielert made an initial public offering in 2005 to address the massive capital requirements for growth and investment in new engine upgrades. Company founder Frank Thielert was later charged with fraud and is currently in prison. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008 and had been unable to attract new investors since then. Thielert nevertheless continued to operate under the control of its administrator, and invested further into Centurion engine upgrades, particularly to enhance reliability and extend maintenance intervals.