Preparing for Flight: Pushing Back an Airplane
Aircraft · 7 min read
While pushing back airplane sounds quite straightforward, there are a number of steps involved in the procedure.
The DA40 is an aircraft designed by Diamond Aircraft Industries as a versatile 4-seater that some people have described as a spacecraft compared to its peers like the Cessna 172s, Piper PA28s, and Beechcraft Musketeers. The DA40 has struggled to make its presence feel in the United States market for different reasons, such as the combination of a low useful load, suspicions of diesel power, poor euro exchange rate, and struggling economy. However, this has been changing with the new airplane in the DA40 series, which design was reimagined to appeal to buyers in the United States. Moreover, flight schools in China are lining up to add it to their fleets, and this can only make other pilots set their eyes on this airplane.
Diamond Aircraft is an aviation company founded in 1981 with headquarters in Austria and facilities in Canada and China. It is considered an aviation pioneer and a leading manufacturer in General Aviation. Among the most popular options found in the Diamond Aircraft fleet there is the DA40 series. Over 5,500 Diamond airplanes are flown by private pilots, professional flight training operators, and institutions worldwide. Currently, Diamond is the only manufacturer that delivers a full aircraft line that combines innovative airframe technology, advanced avionics systems, and modern electronically controlled jet fuel piston engines. Throughout their history, and through all the trials and tribulations, one thing has remained constant, their unwavering commitment to innovation for the sake of improved safety, performance, and efficiency.
The durable and aerodynamically efficient composite airframe structure, ultra-low fuel burn, and superb handling make the Diamond aircraft DA40 series an excellent choice for different purposes such as travel, leaseback, and training. It feels like it is playfully waiting to jump onto this world with a beautiful design and a character that shows up as you warm it up. This aircraft is the perfect first airplane for the novice pilot looking for a first airplane.
In its short time in England, the Diamond aircraft has traveled extensively across Europe, including down to Portugal, gaining several fans.
The DA40 can be purchased on jet fuel or on an AVGAS engine. Let’s take a look at the differences.
The first difference between the two versions is the name given to identify the aircraft. The DA40 NG carries a jet-fuel engine, and the DA40 XLT is the one with the AVGAS engine. In short, the main difference is the characteristics of the machines equipped and the performance they provide. To better understand how different these two versions are, we will describe each of them in more detail.
The DA40 NG (Next Generation) is equipped with an AE 300 turbocharged common-rail injected 2.0-liter diesel engine manufactured by Austro Engine, which provides the DA40 NG with 168 hp and an EECU single lever control system to power an MTV-6-R-/190-69 3-blade constant speed propeller. This engine makes the DA40 NG excel over the DA40 XLT because the aviation industry has been trying to find an alternative for the leaded AVGAS fuel and has found it so far in the lead-free jet fuel that the DA40 NG uses. This fuel is less costly, more accessible, and less flammable, which makes it safer.
Speaking of accessibility, the DA40 NG can fly with different types of fuel that include:
Moreover, it is known that the AE 300 engine is very reliable since it is, in fact, a stock Mercedes OM640 diesel engine. Anyone knowing the German company cannot argue about the durability of their products.
Another important feature of the DA40 NG related to the diesel engine equipped on it is the fuel consumption, which can stay as low as 19.5 liters per hour (5.1 US gallons per hour) while flying at 60% of the total power.
As mentioned above, the DA40 XLT is equipped with an AVGAS engine, the Lycoming IO 360 M1A AVGAS Piston Engine that provides the aircraft with 180 hp. While it has more horsepower than the AE 300, its use of AVGAS makes it less desirable.
This type of fuel makes it more harmful to the environment and reduces safety because it is more flammable. Also, the general aviation industry is trying to limit its use makes it more challenging to get.
Moreover, the consumption with this engine increases, with an average consumption of 31 liters per hour (8.2 US gallons per hour) while flying at 65% of the total power.
Judging by the consumption data mentioned above, the DA40 NG diesel engine seems to be more efficient when it comes to burning fuel, and this is a lot to say considering that the Lycoming IO360M1A AVGAS Piston Engine was known as one of the most fuel-efficient engines ever produced for the general aviation market. But there is more to it than just the way it consumes fuel.
In addition, while the fuel tanks hold only 41 gallons, with 39 of them usable, the max endurance of the DA40 NG can get over the seven hours range, something that most private pilots will deem amazing.
Pilots who have flown the DA40 NG claim that flying with the diesel engine has a different feeling. But this is not bad as many also claim the engine is spectacular and consider the aircraft to be in the great airplane category, superior to the DA40 XLT.
Another exciting aspect that impresses pilots is that the diesel engine on the DA40 NG is not as noisy as you may expect. It has run smoothly and quietly since it was started. And speaking about starting the engine, it ignites almost immediately, although the process requires the following previous steps:
Then there are the Electronic Engine Control Units or EECUs, which are considered the brains of the Austro engine. These control units are in charge of managing fuel flow and generally act precisely like a faded on a jet engine. Every single engine has two EECUs, and they are backed up with a battery.
Interestingly, only flipping a switch between the A and B channels of the EECU is required to perform the run-up, and the pilot does not need to touch the power lever.
So far, we have described the most relevant characteristics of this aircraft regarding power, propulsion, and fuel efficiency. However, other features make this new airplane from Diamond an exciting option for flying schools, a new aviator, or even an experienced IFR pilot. Let take a look at some of them.
We should start with the durable composite airframe. This airframe comes with a multi-path lightning protection system, fixed spring steel main landing gear struts, an electric flap system, 26g cabin and seats, a leather interior3-point automatic reel seat belts on every seat, adjustable rudder pedals, a 28V power outlet, LED overhead cabin lights, sun glare shields, and canopy lining, LED landing and taxi lights, LED position and strobe lights.
Also, optional features can be added to the standard airframe of the DA40 NG, including electric air conditioning, adjustable pilot and co-pilot seats, electrically adjustable rudder pedals, and premium leather interior, AmSafe airbag seatbelts, and double bubble canopy. However, it is essential to highlight that all these optional features come with an added weight that will impact the total weight of the airplane.
Speaking of weight, the total empty weight of the DA40 NG is 900 kg, with a useful weight of 410 kg. This makes it heavier than the DA40 XLT that sits at an empty weight of 792 kg and a useful weight of 408. However, this is compensated with a lower weight of the full fuel tank, 118 kg for the NG and 136 for the XLT. At this point, it is important to remember that the efficiency of its single-engine also compensates the reduced capacity of the NG. The max take-off mass for this airplane is 1310 kg.
Let’s talk about the avionics included in this aircraft. Many pilots consider this to be the biggest improvement of the new airplane in the DA40 series. While this series has been using the Garmin flight deck, the new Garmin G1000 NXi features faster processors and crisper displays to go along with added capabilities. The panel integrates flight instruments, engine monitoring, navigation, and abnormal or emergency notifications. Other capabilities included are traffic advisories, entertainment, and more. More specifically, the Garmin G1000 NXi glass cockpit includes:
Apart from this, optional avionics features include:
Again, some of these optional features will add to the total weight of the aircraft. Let us now answer some frequently asked questions when it comes to the DA40 NG.
The engineers at Diamond made a great effort to have safety at the top of the list when they were designing the DA40 while keeping the satisfaction of the pilots as the main goal. The company has an industry-leading safety record as the result of its commitment to protecting you and your passengers with a long list of active and passive safety features.
Quoting the company’s words: “Active safety features help avoid accidents in the first place, the first and most important line of defense. Passive safety features are designed to minimize the probability and degree of injury, just in case the unexpected happens. The DA40 offers the ultimate handling, stability, control, ease of operation, and structural and system redundancies, all coupled with a high degree of crashworthiness. Our primary design goal is to build aircraft that are a pleasure to fly yet forgiving and safe while offering maximum protection in case of an accident. To accomplish this, we invest in two key safety strategies, Active and Passive Safety.”
For example, the airplane includes Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT™) that recreates a visual topographic landscape from the G1000 system’s terrain-alerting database, providing situational orientation. The manufacturer also includes a certified de-icing system in this airplane.
According to the manufacturer, the maximum speed reached at 14,000 feet is 285 km/h True Air Speed (TAS). However, at 60% of the power that provides the highest efficiency while cruising at 14,000 feet, the maximum speed is 231 km/h TAS. The stall speed in landing configuration is 107 km/h. Calibrated Air Speed (CAS). Another important performance stat is the climb rates which the manufacturer describes as Rate of climb (ISA SL) at 3.5 m/s (690 ft/min).
As mentioned before, the maximum reach (highest efficiency) is achieved while cruising at 60% of the power. Given these conditions and using the main and auxiliary tanks, this aircraft allows you to fly a total of 1,741 km (940 nm).
The price of the DA40 NG starts at $430,000. However, when adding optional features, the price can go up to $500,000.