D-Jet takes to skies as Diamond picks up programme

Washington DC
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Diamond Aircraft has resumed flight testing on its single-engine D-Jet programme after a six-month finance-related grounding.

"Our team's spirits are certainly lifted with the resumption of flight activities," said Peter Maurer, Diamond Aircraft president.

He added: "Being able to bring back part of the team allowed us to resume flight operations, and we are looking forward to finishing the campaign with [serial number] 2 and 3, while in parallel finalizing detail design work and starting the production of conforming ­aircraft 4."

Maurer said the return to flight with aircraft 3 included a "shakedown of aircraft systems", control sweeps, gear cycling, flap cycling, verification of navigation equipment and software, several touch and goes and "completion of some control system test points". Diamond test pilot Mark Elwess ­reported no "issues or aircraft snags" during the 1h flight.

Canada-based Diamond was forced to suspend the D-Jet programme and lay off 213 employees in March, after the Canadian government denied a $35 million loan that was to be matched by the Ontario province. An additional $20 million had been promised by private investment sources, but all three loans were contingent on Diamond securing the total $90 million needed to finish the ­certification programme.

In June, Maurer said the company had obtained a commitment for a "significant investment, ­exclusively dedicated" to the D-Jet from an unnamed source, ­allowing him to rehire some workers and continue D-Jet testing - already five years in progress.

Maurer also said the investment would allow for certain key certification items to restart, possibly including tooling development, building D-Jet number 4 - the first conforming aircraft complete with pressurisation - and restarting flight tests with aircraft 2 and 3.

"What this initial investment does for us is that it allows us to move forward," he said. "It takes some of the intense pressure off and gives us some breathing room to work through [many parallel investment paths]. Which one we'll finally end up taking we don't know."