Austrian manufacturer also plans to ramp up DA40 production at new dedicated line in Canada from 2002

Austria's Diamond Aircraft plans to offer diesel-powered variants of its light general aviation aircraft family. It is holding talks with aerospace newcomer Thielert Aircraft Engines (TAE) on adapting its range of diesel-powered piston powerplants now under development (Flight International, 19-25 June).

Diamond admits manufacturers are facing increasing demand from customers to drive down aircraft operating costs. Marketing and sales manager Sylvia Mandl says: "As the price of Avgas soars so will the cost of flying, so we plan to find a solution for our customers with diesel fuel."

The Weiner Neustadt-based manufacturer offers a range of all-composite, light general aviation aircraft and motor gliders - the two-seat DA20 series, Super Dimona (also known as the Katana Xtreme) motor glider and the new four-seat DA40-180 Diamond Star, which is the initial focus of Diamond and TAE's efforts. The DA40 is currently powered by the Textron Lycoming 135kW (180hp) IO-360.

Liechtenstein-based TAE is developing a 95kW engine, dubbed the TAE 125, and eventually a 240kW variant, the TAE 300, both of which can be powered by diesel or jet fuel.

Meanwhile, Diamond is planning to ramp up DA40-180 production significantly from the second quarter of 2002 following completion of a new dedicated assembly line in Canada.

"We will manufacture and deliver 100 aircraft this year from our Austrian base, but once the assembly base [in London, Ontario] is up and running, we hope to produce up to 300 aircraft a year," says Mandl.

Around 75% of DA40-180 aircraft production is sold to the North American market, while Europe has the second largest customer base with over 12% of sales, says Diamond.

The manufacturer is also planning to unveil a pressurised cabin version of the DA40-180 in 2002, also in response to customer demand. Currently named the DA44, the four-seat aircraft is scheduled for certification and first deliveries in 2003.

Diamond has begun pitching the Canadian-built DA20 C1 Evolution trainer and C1 Eclipse sports aircraft to the European market. Both models will continue to be produced in Canada.

Source: Flight International