Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Hope Springs Eternal
A look at new single-pilot turbines
Diamond D-JetThe D-Jet isn't meant to be a miniaturized business jet. Instead, it's optimized for short- to medium-range missions, low acquisition and operating cost, efficiency in the lower flight levels, and insurability for single-pilot owner-operators. Systems simplicity and high aerodynamic stability coupled with autopilot flight-envelope protection and lower altitude performance make the aircraft more suitable for pilots with moderate levels of proficiency and experience who may be moving up from piston aircraft.
The single-engine, all-composite, 5,650-pound D-Jet will cruise at 315 ktas, be certified to a ceiling of FL 250 and have a range of 1350 nm at a long-range power setting. With surprisingly spacious seating for four (five optional), the D-Jet incorporates a 1,900-pound thrust, FADEC-controlled Williams FJ33-5A turbofan and Garmin G1000 avionics.
D-Jet development hit a speed bump in 2008 when Diamond was faced with the bankruptcy of Thielert, which supplied engines for the DA42 twin. The cost of developing and certifying the new Austro diesel engine and the new DA42NG aircraft diverted funds from the D-Jet program. New development stalled while the company dealt with these issues in a slow economy.
Today, Diamond is close to signing an agreement with an undisclosed financial partner in order to ramp D-Jet development back into full swing sometime in mid-October. Technically, the program is in great shape, and 215 orders are on the books. Diamond already has three prototypes flying with performance flight testing already restarted in early September. If everything goes according to plan, type certification can be achieved in about two years with first deliveries starting shortly afterward. The current price of the D-Jet is $1.89 million in 2008 dollars with a CPI price escalator. Contact: www.diamondaircraft.com.
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