New-build Cessna 172 Skyhawks are now available with diesel engines thanks to an agreement between Germany’s Thielert Aircraft Engines and US firm Van Bortel Aircraft, the world’s largest reseller of Cessna piston singles.

Supported by Cessna, Arlington, Texas-based Van Bortel is installing Thielert’s Centurion 1.7 turbo-diesel in brand new 172s and offering them for sale worldwide. Thielert has been offering retrofit kits for older 172 for three years, but this the first time its engine has been available in factory-new aircraft.

Compared with the original Lycoming engine, the Centurion features full-authority digital control and drives a constant-speed propeller, which provides single-lever control, and ca  standard aviation kerosene, which is more widely available the avgas.

Van Bortel has already put the first retrofitted Skyhawks into operation as demonstrators. “We are amazed at how little fuel the Centurion engines use compared to the 180hp [135kW] avgas engines,” said president Howard van Bortel, announcing the breakthrough at the US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Expo show now under way in Palm Springs, California