Austro Moves To Building Its Own Core Engine

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Austria-based Austro engines will soon be relying on its own manufacturing for aircraft diesel engine cores rather than repurposing cores from automotive giant Mercedes Benz. The company announced this week that it will fully transition to licensed production of the Mercedes-designed OMB 640 block for its two aerodiesel engines, the AE300 and AE330.

Austro launched in 2006 as a sister company of Diamond Aircraft when the company’s then owner, Christian Dries, was unhappy with diesel engines supplied by Thielert Aircraft Engines. Teething pains and a flawed economical model put Thielert into bankruptcy in 2008 and it was eventually bought by Continental Motors. Meanwhile, Austro began supplying diesel engines for the popular Diamond DA42 twin, some singles and eventually the DA62.

Austro’s model was to buy the OM640 diesel used in the Mercedes A100, strip it down to the core and add its own gearbox, fuel system and other accessories. (This AVweb video explains the process.) Because the advancing automotive product cycle threatened the core engine’s longevity, Austro had always planned to build its own cores. Jurgen Heinrich, Austro’s managing director, told AVweb this week that the transition took a while because the company had to carefully evaluate each step to retain certification approvals.

Heinrich said that even at volumes a fraction of those enjoyed by Mercedes, costs of the in-house manufactured cores would remain competitive. Initially, Austro will build its own cores from components, but it will eventually hire a vendor to assemble and deliver completed cores, adhering to the original business model. The new cores will have only minor changes.

Heinrich said about 2000 Austro engines are flying, with some 2 million total fleet hours. The company expects to build about 500 engines this year and also overhauls runouts in its Wiener Neustadt, Austria, factory. The engines currently have an 1800-hour TBO and unlike the competitive Continental engines, they’re overhauled, not replaced. Also, the gearboxes are lifetime parts, with only inspections required between engine overhauls.