Diamond Aircraft announced that its DA50 RG retractable-gear five-seat diesel single has earned EASA certification. The announcement signals a new era in the high-performance piston-engine powered personal transportation game. Here’s why.
The DA50 RG is the first of its kind. It’s the first all-composite, retractable-gear piston single from a major manufacturer, and it’s the first high-performance diesel-powered high-performance single. The comparison has been made to the runaway industry leader in the segment, Cirrus Aircraft, with its SR22 gas-piston single, but the DA50 is a whole different ballgame.
The diesel power is a defining difference. The DA50 is outfitted with a Continental CD-300 with twin-turbochargers, dual FADEC (true FADEC, too) and an integrated prop reduction gearbox. The full-time turbochargers mean that the full-power ceiling of the DA50 will allow cruising in the mid-teens at good speeds, around 180 knots—no fuel burn published—and a max range fuel consumption of just 9 gph at a substantially lower true airspeed.
The downsides appear to be these. The DA50 RG carries just 50 U.S. gallons of fuel, which limits its max range to just 750 nm plus reserves at a lower airspeed (again, not published by Diamond). At higher (unpublished fuel burn at 181 knots), that range figure is likely to decrease by about a third. The engine is also not as powerful as the Continental TSIO-550 in the Cirrus SR22, which outputs 315 hp, burning around 18 gph at around 200 knots true in the mid-teens and up to 213 knots when you go higher. It’s also got a 1,000-plus nautical mile range, a third better than the range of the DA50 RG.
The seating compartment of the DA50 is spectacular. The visibility, likewise. The styling is extraordinary, and there’s a lot of panache still associated with retractable gear.
Diamond anticipates FAA approval for the DA50 by the end of 2021.
At which point, the competition will have arrived, and like you, we’re anxious to see how this plays out.