Single-engined five-seater suited to range of applications, including private pilot training and medical evacuation
Diamond Aircraft's newest design, the single-engine DA50 Superstar, is due to fly for the first time this week, ahead of its debut at this month's Aero 07 general aviation show in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
The five-seat aircraft, powered by a version of the 350hp (260kW) Teledyne Continental IO-550 with full authority digital engine control, had a low-key unveiling at the manufacturer's Wiener Neustadt factory in Austria in December. Diamond is targeting the second quarter of next year for certification of the DA50, and plans to be building "one a day" six months later.
Although Diamond had originally planned a stretched version of its four-seat DA40, the all-composite aircraft is "a new design, with almost no parts in common" with its single-engined sibling, says the company's owner and chief executive Christian Dries, who planned to pilot the aircraft on its first flight. It has an 18cm (7in) wider and 12cm higher cockpit, three-screen Garmin flightdeck, longer wing and a 150cm-longer fuselage. "A stretch of the DA40 involved too much compromise," he says.
The larger cabin makes it ideal for private pilot training in the Middle East and North America, where some students "prefer an extra level of room and comfort", says Dries. The DA50 is the first Diamond aircraft to have air conditioning.
Diamond is targeting the second quarter of next year for DA50 certification
It is also suited for medical evacuation in remoter regions in Africa because it can accommodate two stretchers and has a large access door aft of the left wing, he says.
A further market could be multi-crew airliner and business jet pilot training, because the larger cockpit allows two students to sit in the front with an instructor behind. "This type of training is mostly done in a simulator, but reality is better - and cheaper," he says.
Diamond plans a diesel version of the aircraft and Dries knows "exactly who will make the engine" although he will not say. He says the Centurion 4.0 engine offered by Thielert, whose 1.7 models power the Diamond DA40 and DA42 twin, is "too heavy". Diamond is also developing its own engine business which, until now, has designed small engines for unmanned air vehicles, motor gliders and light sport aircraft. However, Dries says that "in the very near future we will be taking production to very big figures".
Source: Flight International