The Thielert Centurion 1.7 diesel aircraft engine is now being installed in new Cessna 172 Skyhawk aircraft by Van Bortel Aircraft, Inc.
Van Bortel, based at Arlington Municipal Airport in Arlington, Texas, bills itself as the world’s largest Cessna dealer. The shop replaces the 172s’ standard Lycoming engines with the diesel engines, then sells the retrofitted Skyhawks worldwide. Cessna Aircraft Co. is working in partnership with Van Bortel on the retrofits.
The Skyhawks with the Thielert diesel engines have the latest technology, such as single lever control, a constant speed propeller, full authority digital engine control (FADEC), as well as a turbocharger for improved performance at high altitudes, Thielert and Van Bortel officials noted.
“The installation of our Centurion engine in brand-new Cessna Skyhawks presents buyers with yet another chance to switch over to the new generation of diesel-powered aircraft,” said Frank Thielert, managing director of Thielert Aircraft Engines.
Although the engines are called diesel, they actually burn Jet-A, which is cheaper and more plentiful than 100LL.
Van Bortel has already put the first retrofitted Skyhawks into operation, using them for demo flights.
“We are amazed at how little fuel the Centurion engines use compared to the 180-bhp avgas engines,” said Howard G. van Bortel, president of Van Bortel Aircraft, Inc. “We are highly impressed by the quality and engineering of both the Centurion engine and the retrofit kits. Up to now, no Skyhawk has been able to climb to 12,000 feet so quickly.”
According to statistics on the company’s website, time to climb to 12,000 feet with the diesel engine is 26 minutes, burning 3.2 gallons of fuel.
A 2006 Skyhawk with the Centurion turbo-charged engine sells for $239,500.
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