June 2008 Issue
Trouble at Thielert: Will It Kill Diesels?
Probably not. Thielert still owns the market and hereís why there are good reasons to think the companyís bankruptcy may be a good thing.
We sometimes think the entire edifice of new aircraft engine development is like a beachfront house built a little close to the surf. The view is great for awhile, then the tide rises and foundation crumbles. That analogy works for Thielert AG, whose stunning initial success with aerodiesel engines has devolved into insolvency and an investigation into potentially fraudulent financial reporting on the companyís fiscal health. The owners of some 600 diesel-powered Diamond aircraft are less worried about the financial niceties than they are this overarching question: Is the engine itself technically and economically viable or is it just too maintenance hungry to survive in the market? And if so, is that what dragged Thielert into this mess? Based on our interviews with owners, sales people and Diamond officials, our conclusion is that this may be unknowable at the moment. As we go to press this month, Diamondís senior management is huddling in Europe with Thielertís new management and insolvency overseers to bring clarity to this situation. It may be weeks before we learn anything useful, if we ever do.
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