There is no question about it, Art Spengler and Fred Ahles are excited about the newest offering from Premier Aircraft Sales: upgrading primarily R and S model Cessna 172s from Lycoming to Centurion 2.0 diesel power, coupled to a German MT or U.S.-manufacturered Hartzell Bantam propeller. The program, deemed the Premier Edition 172 upgrade, is a chance to revive the C172 market, if you ask Spengler and Ahles.
“It’s a direct response to what our customers have been asking for,” Spengler told AIN at Sun ‘n’ Fun 2014, where the program was introduced. “With the Centurion running jet-A the fuel burn of the Cessna 172 is cut in half, and for most models the weight penalty in useful load is just 40 pounds,” he continued. “As a leading Centurion master service center and authorized Cessna service center, we know both the engine and the airframe, and we know that together they are a combination that is hard to beat.”
Performance increases include a quieter engine, reduction in cruise fuel consumption from the Lycoming’s 9 gph to the Centurion’s 5 gph, and with the new Hartzell Bantam propeller, 50 to 75 fpm increase in climb and 5- to 7-knot increase in cruise speeds.
The Premier upgrade can be undertaken in steps, cafeteria-style, and yes, you can bring your own airframe (Model F through S) to the party. But Spengler anticipates that most of the company’s customers will prefer a soup-to-nuts makeover of an airframe procured by Premier. The cost? “Our demonstrator is a soup-to-nuts package that runs $289,500,” said Spengler. That said, it’s not for sale—yet. “We need it for a while to demonstrate the product!” The demonstrator is currently undergoing interior work at Premier Aircraft Sales Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport facility.
The upgrade entails a firewall-forward complete teardown and rework of the cowling, as well, to fit the new engine and prop. Inside the cabin a complete interior, including avionics package (Garmin 500 and Garmin 750 Garmin 255 and GDL-88 ADS-B) are installed. New paint and corrosion protection finishes the project, which comes with a two-year warranty.
The company is also studying its next diesel retrofit project for the Piper Warrior II and Piper Warrior III.