Diamond Aircraft is developing a military trainer version of its D-Jet single-engined personal jet, which will be pitched at under $3 million.
Diamond chief executive Christian Dries revealed yesterday that engineers at the company's Ontario plant will begin work on a prototype of the D-Jet trainer once the civil version goes into production at the end of next year.
The aircraft is likely to be fitted with Martin-Baker lightweight ejection seats unveiled at the ILA show in Berlin in June, although a contract has not been signed. Privately owned Diamond is seeking a partner to launch the jet trainer. "I work with private money so I cannot do this on my own as I have to be careful to manage my cash flow," says Dries, who expects the prototype to be flying around the end of 2012.
The move follows another Farnborough coup for the Austrian manufacturer, with Boeing on Tuesday signing a memorandum of understanding with Aeronautics to market the Israeli company's unmanned air vehicle version of Diamond's DA42 piston twin, the Dominator. Boeing says the UAV will be pitched at a "rapidly expanding" market for medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAVs.
Diamond has proved itself one of the most innovative general aviation manufacturers, developing a special mission version of its DA42 when the basic trainer market began to decline at the end of last decade, opening an assembly line in China and developing an optionally piloted DA42 prototype with Aurora Flight Sciences. It is also conducting trials with EADS on an algae-powered DA40 piston single and has developed its own diesel engine, the Austro Engines AE300.