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PARIS: Diamond to deliver first Dart-450s this year

Diamond Aircraft is displaying a duo of Paris debutantes, with its Dart-450 and surveillance-roled DA62 MPP both attracting significant interest.

The Dart-450 on display in the company's static exhibit is one of two examples built so far, with chief executive Christian Dries expecting a third to make its debut in late August or early September. Unlike the lead pair of Ivchenko-Progress/Motor Sich AI-450S-powered aircraft, the new asset will use a GE Aviation engine with a 550hp (410kW) output.

Dries says the AI-450S last week secured certification from Ukraine's civil aviation authority, with the activity serving as a test case as that body advances on gaining accreditation under the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Diamond will deliver its first two Dart-450s to an undisclosed buyer this year in a non-certificated version. Dries declines to name the customer, but confirms that the pair will be used for testing.

The tandem-seat aircraft has been created to perform training and surveillance tasks, with an endurance of up to 8.5h. It can carry mission equipment including a search radar and electro-optical/infrared sensor. "This aeroplane has been designed from the start for reconnaissance," Dries says.

The first delivery of a fully certificated aircraft is expected to take place in September 2018, and Dries says the company's ambition is to eventually deliver 50 Dart aircraft per year. This will include -550 and -750 variants, both powered by GE engines.

Buyers will be offered a Garmin G3000-equipped cockpit as standard, or can select a system from other suppliers, including Esterline, Dries says. The Dart features a sidestick controller, while customers have the option to select Martin-Baker Mk16 ejection seats or a pneumatic escape system from Zvezda.

"Every week we have potential customers visiting us," says Dries, who claims the Dart-450 is one-third the cost of a Pilatus PC-9. "The interest in the aircraft is extremely high," he adds, noting: "we are keeping up with the certification schedule and demand."

Meanwhile, the Austrian company is for the first time showing its DA62 MPP platform, which is being pitched for tasks including border patrol, search and rescue and infrastructure monitoring. With a maximum take-off weight of about 2.3t, the twin-engined, four-seat type can remain airborne for up to 10h.

Also on display is a uniquely configured DA42 named "TerraStar". This is equipped with sensors which enable the aircraft to perform tasks such as mineral surveys and radiation monitoring.

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