Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fourth Time’s A Charm


In its fourth iteration, Diamond’s DA42-VI is a far better twin


Let's Go Flying
We had three people and half fuel on board for my check flight, so the airplane was close to gross weight. Passmore ordered his DA42 with the long-range fuel tanks, 76 gallons worth, but standard fuel is 50 gallons. Buyers who purchase the airplane for multi-engine instruction probably won't have much need for the big tanks, but ironically, they won't need the extra 174 pounds of payload, either.

Paying pounds with the big tanks topped is about 570, so the airplane isn't that shy of four folks' worth, anyway. It's important to remember that fuel burn at 60% power is just over 10 gph total, so you could conceivably fill the seats and still have enough payload for 60 gallons, about four hours plus IFR reserve at better than 170 knots.
Inflight handling is about what you'd expect of a two-ton twin. Stick forces aren't exactly light, but the airplane maneuvers with comfortable pressure. It's stable around all three axes, perhaps partially a function of the tall winglets mounted on the tips.

Contrary to popular opinion, winglets don't work on all airplanes, but they definitely have a stabilizing effect on the DA42. They also probably contribute several knots to cruise speed. Winglets work best on high-aspect-ratio airfoils with comparatively long span and short average chord. They're most often advantageous on airplanes with high-wing loading. All these conditions fit Diamond designs perfectly, and it's no big surprise that the company's success building high- performance sailplanes has carried over into the DA40 and DA42.

Climb is brisk, and while we didn't try any single-engine work, multi-engine ascent was impressive, 1,300 fpm or better. Without a full service of O2 aboard, we couldn't try out the airplane's speed at near-flight-level altitudes, but it did very well at breathable heights, typically over 180 knots.

That's one of the joys of the DA42-VI. You have the choice of hustling right along at up to 190 knots on a reasonably efficient fuel flow or pulling back to loiter power and logging 150 to 155 knots on a frugal six gph.

Similarly, you can elect to descend in any manner you or ATC decide you should. You can scream downhill as fast as your ears can take it, or you can elect for a penetration descent, starting 75 miles out and bleeding off altitude in increments of 400 to 600 fpm.

Another new feature on the VI is the hush kit that suppresses noise. The airplane generates an overflight noise level of only 56 EPNL at 300 feet. That's sure to make the DA42 a good neighbor at airports under siege by not-so-friendly neighbors who moved in last week.

The DA42's trailing beam gear is perhaps the greatest face-saver in the industry, not that there's anything especially challenging about returning to Earth in Diamond's twin. If there's a need to plant the airplane and stop it short, you can paint it on and stop in less than 1,200 feet; then, sneak back out in only slightly more runway.



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