Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Heroes of Diamond Aircraft - all hail the aero-heroes of 2010!

by ANN Editor-in-Chief, Jim Campbell

The beginning of the second decade of this millennium will not go down as a favourite among devotees of all things aeronautical.  For companies already struggling to stay alive, 2009-2010 was a bad time and often signalled their end. For the healthier companies, it was a time when everyone went into survival mode, no matter how well they had done previously.

The last few years would have been bad enough for Diamond Aircraft, or any other company for that matter, without the monumental obstacles placed before it by the puzzling and nearly catastrophic situation that developed around the Thielert diesel engine programme and its eventual bankruptcy. No company wants to lose a valuable supplier, especially when that supplier builds the pivotal powerplant for your vehicle and most especially when it involves vehicles uniquely designed for a novel type of propulsion. That’s when you know you have a real problem.

The Diamond DA20

For most companies, that would have been it... toast, dead, buh-bye! But not Diamond. They not only developed their own diesel engine system to replace the disgraced Thielert, but recertified their twin-engine DA42 for the Lycoming 360-series engines in the interim, while also completing the design of the Austro diesel and the eventual re-certification of the DA42 with their own diesel powerplant.

For most companies, such circumstances would have killed them off. But Diamond survived and brought forth two new airplanes despite it all. Best of all, they were two of the nicest flying twins we’ve flown in the last decade and that’s saying a lot.

The Diamond DA40

In the meantime, they work toward the arduous completion of what is now the only single-engine jet programme in actual, real-life, no-fooling, development, and fully expect to have a very costeffective small jet platform available for the market about the time the pundits expect the economy to thaw. The D-Jet programme is a difficult one and it’s been kicking their butts for a few years. But like all things Diamond, they will finish it, they will make it right, and when it finally starts to show up in hangars all over the world, it will have a unique market niche all to itself. Amazing.

The Diamond DA42

Let’s not forget that Diamond continues to build DA20 and DA40s with a fair degree of regularity for this down market, that both these airplanes have compiled one of the most enviable safety records for any GA single, and that service and support for these aircraft has kept up a good rep while a few of their competitors seem to have forgotten the meaning of the words.

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