Plane & Pilot
Saturday, July 1, 2006

Rediscovering The Diamond DA40

In its gentle stall, the descent rate is less than in a Cirrus SR22 with its parachute deployed

diamondSome people feel that the Japanese and Germans produce better cars, TVs, computers and cameras than the Americans, but there’s never been any question about the world domination of American airplanes. General aviation aircraft from the United States continue to lead in sales and performance at home and overseas.
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It’s interesting that this performance approaches the best efforts of some of the old, 200 hp retractables, such as the Commander 112 and Beech Sierra. Remember, the Star leaves the wheels hanging in the wind, so don’t believe those folks who preach about general aviation’s glass being half empty.

Fuel burn at the max cruise setting is about 10.5 gph, so you’d only have three hours endurance plus reserve with the left lever against the wall. If there’s a need to stretch the distance traveled to reach the next pit stop, 50% power delivers 120 knots in exchange for only 6.7 gph, extending range by an easy 100 nm.

Stalls are nonevents hardly worth noting, but it’s notable that if you hold the airplane in a full stall with power off and gentle pressure on the pedals to keep the wings level, the descent rate is less than in a Cirrus SR22 with parachute deployed. Combine that with 26 G seats and crush zones beneath the fuselage, and a controlled descent into even rocky terrain might be more survivable than you’d imagine.

Diamond’s experience with gliders is evident in the airplane’s descent and landing characteristics. The long, 39-foot wings provide a glide ratio slightly better than that of most other general aviation singles, and a typical 65-knot approach speed will still preserve plenty of flare at the bottom. In fact, a little too much pressure too early will result in a memorable balloon. It’s best to fly the Star to the bottom of its glide, then flare gently when you’re only a foot or two above the runway.

Examine the Star’s numbers closely, and you can see why folks at Diamond say that the DA40 is more competitive with an airplane in the next class up—the 235 hp Skylane. Climb and speed are about the same, though a typically equipped Skylane probably carries more payload and offers greater range.

However you compare the Star, it competes well with airplanes in and out of its class. With 600 DA40s sold to date (many to flight schools), buyers all over the world are voting for the slick four-seat single from Diamond Aircraft.

SPECS: DA40 Diamond Star

Labels: Piston Singles


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