Diamond: Thielert Was "Grossly Misleading"

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In a letter to hundreds of owners stranded by Thielert Aircraft Engines' bankruptcy, Diamond Aircraft accused the firm overseeing the insolvency of intentionally misleading the public and misstating Diamond's policies. Further, said Diamond, because of Thielert's new pricing, the hourly cost of operating its diesel engines has risen from under $13 to about $85, a more than six-fold increase that Diamond says makes the TAE engines "commercially non-viable."

Diamond's letter came in response to a statement earlier this week at the Berlin Airshow by Bruno Kubler, whose German law firm is overseeing the insolvency of Thielert. More than 800 Diamond aircraft are equipped with Thielert diesels, but owners have complained about weak customer service, poor durability and high maintenance costs. Thielert declared bankruptcy last month and Diamond has been struggling to support owners grounded for lack of parts. Thielert is shipping some parts and engines to owners, but at radically increased prices and without warranties. Although Kubler reports that owners are "relieved" to have parts flowing, our checks with owners reveal that not many are buying.

Diamond challenged Kubler's claim that it tried to negotiate "special conditions" with regard to price for purchase of engines and parts. Diamond says its early negotiations with Thielert didn't include price, but only addressed inventory and availability. Moreover, says Diamond, Thielert's list of available parts was too small to be of use to customers. Although Kubler said it submitted "a far reaching proposal" to Diamond for new engines, Diamond counters that it received no such proposal from Thielert and that its own offer to pay materials costs for new parts and engines, with Thielert contributing labor, was ignored.

"Despite Diamond's best efforts to improve the situation," the company's statement said, "TAE's attitude towards product integrity and customer support and service were substandard even prior to the insolvency. The current situation is simply impossible. The customers will ultimately decide the long-term future of TAE, and in the absence of an economically viable product, and of customers who trust the company, any company's future viability may be questionable."