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Apr
3

DA42-VI Debuts at Sun N Fun

GlassPilotGeneral, News, Pilot Reports

Provided by John Armstrong of Dominion Aircraft Sales:

We had the pleasure of providing the DA42-VI (Version Six) for its first showing at Sun N Fun 2014. The aircraft selected for this was the first DA42-VI brought into the US earlier last year. You can read all the posts about this special plane here. The DA42-VI represents the pinnacle of performance in the DA42 line so we thought our readers would enjoy reading about the delivery flight to Sun N Fun for the show.

Dave and Sue Passmore the proud owners of N42DA have already put over 180 hours on the aircraft in its first nine months. They have enjoyed trips to Canada, the mid-west and a wonderful trip to the Bahamas already. Sue completed her multi-engine rating so to say the least they are enjoying the capabilities and utility of their fabulous new aircraft.

Dave in fact has enjoyed the experience of sharing the unique capabilities of this aircraft so much he has joined Dominion Aircraft Sales as a Diamond Specialist to be a part of the team that helps folks learn more about the Diamond line of modern aircraft. “His experience of starting in a DA20, owning a DA40 and traveling to the Austrian plant to pickup and ferry the DA42-VI ‘across the pond’ gives him a unique ability to share real experience with those interested owning these modern magic carpets”, stated John Armstrong, President of Dominion Aircraft Sales. “We are delighted to have Dave on the team.”

Dave took off from Leesburg on the Monday just prior to Sun N Fun and stopped off in Raleigh Durham to pick up John Armstrong and his wife Mary Margaret. The unique thing was he had over 50 Knot winds at 3000 feet and gusts on the ground to 30 knots. The DA42 is a solid platform that easily handles challenging conditions and Dave enjoy fantastic tail winds with ground speeds over 200 knots.

We loaded up the three of us and all our bags and full tanks and launched headed to Lakeland. Since Dave is enjoying his recently earned CFI designation he gladly put me in the left seat and off we went. We had filed for 16,000 feet to do some performance testing and try out the on-board oxygen system. At startup its always a treat to experience the operation of the aircraft. You turn on the master and wait for a moment and then turn the key for the left engine. It starts immediately every time and purrs as such a low noise level you have to confirm its turning when you have your headset on. The run up on the Austro diesel engines with their FADEC control is fully automated. You press a button and it does it all for you and reports the results and you are ready to go.

With our fully loaded aircraft the first thing you notice in climb is how strong the climb rate it…we experienced 1000+ fpm climbs all the way to altitude at 92 percent power and 100kts. The turbo charged engines with their strong torque profile means that as we went up our performance increased.

Our first altitude stop in our IFR plan was at 10K feet. At that level we set for 75% power and enjoyed a 170kt cruise which is 195.5 MPH, with a 27 knot tailwind putting us right at 230 MPH ground speed. The burn at that level was only 13.2gph. The Statute mile per gallon economy was 14.8 MPG which is on par with many of the vehicles we drive but certainly don’t have two engines and don’t go over 200MPH! I adjusted the reclining seat and made note of the extra leg room over the DA40 configuration. The aircraft has an extremely comfortable traveling position in all the seats.

The next altitude stop was 16,000 ft which was our final for this trip. We donned the cannula kits and enjoyed the pure oxygen delivered directly from the on-board oxygen system in the DA42. Dave had fitted the system with a portable pulse demand regulator which meters out small puffs for each user as they breath making the tank last several times longer over all.

At 16,000 feet we put the DA42 into its gallop with 91 percent power and enjoyed 192knots or 220.8 MPH. Now at that speed you can get some where fast. In our case we had also a tailwind and were seeing 238MPH ground speeds. The statute mile per gallon economy airspeed was 13.3 which again is astounding considering this is a TWIN ENGINE aircraft producing these numbers. We all know that a traditional twins doing these speeds would be at least in the range of 30 gallons per hour. We would call this very significant technological progress to beat the previous standard by less than half the burn. This efficiency is a testament to the combination of zealous aerodynamic refinement and the efficiency of the Austro diesel jet fuel burning technology. Its important to point out that the comparison of the 30 gallons in a traditional twin also has the higher price of AVGas, typically a dollar more per gallon to carry as well, not to mention the availability issues. So, the true economy difference for comparisons requires a cost per mile calculation for fuel. More importantly, the numbers produced by the DA42 exceed the efficiency of a long list of singles on a direct basis and cost per mile fuel basis. The best part though is always that you have the comfort and utility of the two engines.

Upon arrival at Lakeland we enjoyed an easy approach and landing and taxied to the exhibitor gate where we were able to tow the plane to the stand. We rolled in right behind a Piper Matrix which has a similar wingspan so our path was cleared and ready for us. Within minutes of our arrival Paul Bertorelli was on the scene to do a video interview about the aircraft for AvWeb.

Anyone that is considering the purchase of a high end single or twin engine general aviation aircraft should look seriously at the DA42 before making an investment. All of these new aircraft require a significant investment and in our changing market its important to weigh out the value of the Jet Fuel burning efficiency over our AVGas uncertainty. Even without the AVGas uncertainty as you can see the capabilities of the aircraft speak for themselves in the performance and efficiency numbers. Diamond has succeeded in building the easiest to fly, safest, highest tech, most efficient twin ever invented that is fuel “future proof” and so will continue to deserve serious consideration by all discriminating pilots seeking a high performance and high utility aircraft.

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