Superior Air Parts (US); Thielert (Germany)

Superior Air Parts, Inc. of Coppell, Texas has been operated as a division of Thielert Aircraft Engines, GmbH of Hamburg, Germany since March 31, 2006. Previously, Superior and Thielert enjoyed a strong working relationship, especially with regard to the use of Thielert "roller-lifter" technology for valve actuation (see the discussion below for the Superior XP-360 Plus engine). Prior to the acquisition by Thielert, Superior had been a manufacturer of FAA-approved parts for Continental and Lycoming engines since 1967. All of Superior's operations remain independent of other US engine manufacturers as they were before the acquisition. The press release announcing the Superior acquisition by Thielert can be found on the Superior Website.

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Superior Air Parts filed for bankruptcy on 12/31/08. Their overhaul, manufacturing, and sales operations have continued as before, but under U.S. Bankruptcy Court supervision. Bids to the court for the Superior assets were made by both the Continental and Lycoming ownership in early 2009. Accordingly, the Bankruptcy Court ordered an auction of Superior's assets to take place on 2/24/09. Before the scheduled auction, the Texas Attorney General's Office announced that the sale to either Continental or Lycoming was under investigation on the basis of Texas antitrust laws (KP4/09 and an Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Webpage). The auction was postponed and the issues have not yet been settled.

The Superior bankruptcy occurred, apparently, as the result of the 4/24/08 bankruptcy in Germany of Superior's parent company Thielert Aircraft Engines, see the Thielert Website. The Thielert bankruptcy followed the accusations of fraud in published revenue figures by Thielert top management. As for Superior, the Thielert factory has continued operations and on 4/6/09, the Bankruptcy Court permitted the re-organization of the firm as Centurion Aircraft Engines located in the existing Thielert factory in Lichtenstein, Germany (KP7/09 and the Centurion Website). There does not seem to be any corporative link now between Thielert and Superior.
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The original Superior XP-360 engine has the same dimensions as the Lycoming O-360 series engines, but is claimed to have detailed design and manufacturing improvements. The engines have been sold since 2001 as kits to be assembled for non-certificated use on homebuilt and other experimental aircraft installations. The engines can be built by an individual at his own shop or at the Superior facility with oversight by trained mechanics. Alternatively, the engines can be purchased from Superior, or their approved sub-contractors, completely assembled and ready for installation on experimental aircraft. The first of these sub-contractors was Teledyne Mattituck, but others can be found on the Superior Website or the XP-360 Website. Details of these engine versions can be found in KP4/01, 4/02, 4/03, 2/04, 4/05, 7/05, 4/06, 3/07, 3/08; SA7/98, 6/01, 2/05.

Superior announced in 2004 that the series would be extended to include the following Lycoming-based engines, although some have not yet appeared:

Superior XP-320 based on the O-320 parallel-valve versions. This engine is no longer described on their Website at the date of this revision.

Superior XP-360 based on the O-360 parallel-valve versions. This engine remains Superior's main experimental-engine kit business, and they have added a Superior XP-360 Plus, which has "roller lifter" technology for valve actuation that was developed by Thielert.

Superior XP-361 based on the IO-360 angled-valve versions. This engine is no longer described on their Website at the date of this revision, but it appears to be the basis for the Superior XP-400 described later.

Superior XP-362 based on the O-360 with a cross-flow cylinder. This engine is no longer described on their Website at the date of this revision.

Another version of the XP-360 is the turbo-normalized Superior TNIO-360 (KP10/05; SA6/04), which was developed for the Lancair Legacy experimental, kitbuilt aircraft and is available only from Lancair. A turbo-normalized engine maintains constant rated power from sea level to some relatively high operating altitude by increasing manifold presssure as the aircraft climbs. It was reported at one time (SA7/98) that Superior also had plans for XP-500 engines based on the Lycoming O-540 series.

Superior announced their development of the Superior XP-400 non-certified engine at the 2006 Sun 'n Fun Show (KP7/06, 8/06; SA 6/06). This engine is based on the Superior XP-361 angled-valve engine mentioned above and has an increased bore and stroke. This new engine, which has the same external linear dimensions as the IO-360, is described below.

Superior has received FAA type certification, including a full production certificate, for the following Vantage versions of their engines.

O-360 -- {5.125 / 4.375 / 361.0} / {130.2 / 111.1 / 5916}

4cyl; Vantage O-360; 180hp@2700rpm; 2004-present; Wt = 288#; TC = E00001SC on 3/31/04.
This is basically the same as the non-certificated Superior XP-360 carbureted engine and includes all of their claimed detailed design and manufacturing improvements. The models being produced seem to follow the Lycoming model number system. Superior is offering a Vantage O-360-A1A2, where the first A denotes provision for a fixed-pitch propeller, the 1 denotes a #1 dynafocal engine mounting, the second A denotes the accessories, and the 2 denotes the power rating and compression ratio. They also offer a Vantage O-360-B1A2, where the B denotes provision for a variable-pitch propeller controlled by pressurized oil, and the rest of the designation is the same. Also offered are a Vantage O-360-A2A2, where the first 2 denotes a #2 dynafocal engine mounting, and a Vantage O-360-A3A2, where the 3 denotes a conical engine mounting. Similarly there are a Vantage O-360-B2A2, a Vantage O-360-B2A2, and a Vantage O-360-B3A2.
FM7/04, 10/05; J05-06 to present; KP4/05, 4/06, 3/07, 3/08, 3/09; SA6/04.
Applications: (US) American Champion 7GCBC Citabria High Country Explorer [N715AC].

4cyl; Vantage IO-360; 180hp@2700rpm; 2004-present; Wt = 290#; TC = E00001SC on 3/31/04.
This is the fuel-injected model of the Vantage O-360 engine, which is the same as the non-certificated, fuel-injected Superior XP-360. The same model designations, IO-360-A1A2, etc., are offered as for the Vantage O-360.
FM7/04; J05-06 to present; KP4/05, 4/06, 3/07, 3/08, 3/09; SA6/04.
Applications: None found.

O-400 -- {5.25 / 4.625 / 400.5} / {133.4 / 117.5 / 6562}

4cyl; Superior XP-400; 210hp@2700rpm; 2005-present; Wt = 294-305#; TC = none.
This engine is derived from angle-valve versions of the non-certificated Superior XP-361 fuel-injected engine by increasing the bore by 0.125 in. and the stroke by 0.25 in. The engine includes all of their claimed detailed design and manufacturing improvements and has the same external linear dimensions as the Superior XP-361.
KP7/06, 8/06, 3/07, 3/08, 3/09; SA 6/06.
Applications: None found.


Updated 8/5/09