By Daryl Murphy,
A gathering of Diamond DA-42 position owners and potential buyers were treated to their own unveiling of the newest entry in the light twin market at Premier Aviation, Addison Airport (ADS) in suburban Dallas on March 10. The German-designed four-place, 172-kt carbon composite aircraft got its FAA certification papers last summer at Oshkosh. The first delivery was made at November’s AOPA Convention.
The striking shape of the DA-42 follows the lines of the earlier single-engine models, with a swooping fuselage that tapers radically down to a wasp-waist form and T-tail empennage. The shallow fuselage provides a comfortable space for pilot and passengers while presenting only a minimum amount of structure to interrupt the airflow.
There are two swing-up canopies with appropriate steps for ingress and egress—one for the cockpit and one for the passengers. Its composite structure allows unlimited smooth surfaces and impeccable fit and finish—even in areas that are usually seen only by mechanics. It’s a good aircraft for the detail obsessive.
Deliveries began several months ago, and there are well over 100 orders on the books for the $470,000 twin. Diamond Aircraft is in the process of setting up North American manufacturing facilities in Florida as an augmentation to the Canadian location where the twin and the company’s other certified aircraft, the two-place DA-20 and four-place DA-40, and the future entry into the VLJ market, the D-Jet, are made.
Diamond is building depth in their line so that there are progressively larger and faster aircraft to logically step up to over the years.
“It’s a path to the future, just like Cessna used to have—trainers through multi-engine and a jet,” explained Craig Smith, Diamond regional sales manager. “The largest share of loyal owners was built from the 152 and a learn-to-fly program. Diamond is setting up the same kind of training system, only their trainer is high-tech and is called the DA-20.”
One of the position holders is Dr. Selden Smith, a retired country doctor from Wolfe City, Texas. We met him as he and friend Roy Masterson were carrying their golf bags into the hangar for a final and critical fitting. The two men often travel on golf outings or vacations with their wives. Smith, a former Navy aviator who flew the JM-1 (B-26) on photo reconnaissance, was on a golf outing in Canada with Masterson, also a pilot, when they visited the factory in London, Ontario.
“The DA-42 has better economy than anything I’ve seen, it’s simple to fly and it’s brand new,” he said. “Plus it has a glass panel and turbo diesel—and it’s cheaper than a new Bonanza.”
As another plus, Smith and Masterson happily found space for their golf clubs, one in the nose baggage compartment and one in the rear of the cabin.
The glass cockpit is Garmin G1000, and the diesel engines are T.A.E. Centurion 1.7 liter (102 cu. in.) units with FADEC. The small (by aircraft standards) liquid-cooled power plants produce 135 hp each, but are able to propel the aircraft to an 80 percent power cruise speed of 172 ktas with a total fuel flow of 12.5 gph. If you’re very economy minded, a 60 percent power setting yields a still-respectable 151 ktas for an investment of only 8.8 gph of Jet A, and the DA-42 is certified for flight into known icing.
D-Jet: Diamond’s VLJ
The five-place D-Jet will be powered by a single Williams FJ33-4 with split intake from each side of the fuselage and is expected to make its first flight this spring. Certification is expected for late next year or early 2008, at which time production is estimated to be eight aircraft per month, with full capacity anticipated at 200 per year.
The Garmin 1000 flight deck will hold two 12-inch multifunction displays and one 15-inch primary flight display.
Diamond Aircraft has determined that in this class of aircraft, most trips will be in the short to medium range, and in a move that will vastly simplify its certification, has chosen to limit its ceiling of 25,000 feet with a 5.5 psi cabin pressurization differential.
Projected performance for the 5,071-lb. maximum-takeoff-weight jet should yield a maximum cruise speed of 315 ktas and range over 1,300 nm.
Diamond claims 125 orders for the $850,000 model.
For more information,visit [http://www.diamondair.com].