Premier Expands Diesel Conversions, Switches to Hartzell Props

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Premier Aircraft said this week at Sun 'n Fun that's it's considering expanding its aircraft diesel conversion program to include the Piper Warrior II and III models under STCs originally developed by the former Thielert Aircraft Engines. Earlier this year, Premier announced a Cessna 172 Skyhawk conversion program, using the Continental Centurion 2.0 aerodiesel that's beginning to gain some market traction. The company is just completing its first Skyhawk conversion.

Premier also said it will offer a new Hartzell prop for the Skyhawk conversion that it claims improves performance. With their harsh torque pulses, diesels are known to be hard on props, thus composite-clad wood has been the material of choice, a market owned by MT. But at Sun 'n Fun, Premier Aircraft announced it will offer a new three-blade composite design from Hartzell on its late-model Cessna 172 conversions. The Hartzell offers better static thrust, shorter takeoff rolls and higher climb rates, according to the company. Evidently, Redbird has figured out the same thing and is using the Hartzell on its Redhawk conversion of the Skyhawk.

According to Premier's Art Spengler, Premier's Skyhawk conversion will use the same Centurion 2.0 that Redbird is using, but it will offer both a turnkey conversion of Cessna R and S model Skyhawks or a "cafeteria style" conversion of airplanes that can include anything from just the basic engine conversion ($95,000) to a full-up refurb for $289,500 that will include the airframe itself, a new Garmin avionics suite (G500 based, with a GTN 750, plus autopilot), paint and upholstery. Premier claims to have had wide interest from both domestic and foreign owners and flight schools. It's also considering a similar offering for Piper's Warrior II and III line.  Both Premier and Redbird are relying on original STCs developed by the former Thielert when it was first introducing aerodiesels more than a decade ago. A number of conversions using those conversions are flying in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Spengler claims that with the Hartzell prop, the diesel outperforms the Lycoming IO-360 at altitudes above 4000 feet, with a higher climb rate and a cruise speed up to 5 to 7 knots faster. The Hartzell also inches back the Centurion's fuel consumption by .3 to .5 GPH. The Centurion typically burns 5.5 GPH compared to 8 to 9 GPH for the Lycoming.