The Prettiest Diamond — The DA42 Twin Star Comes to UND

Sleek, smooth, fast, pretty, amazing, and cutting edge.  These are only a few adjectives that comes to mind if you asked me to describe the DA42 Twin Star, a twin-engine airplane produced by Diamond Aircraft.  Recently I had the opportunity to observe a flight in the DA42 and what a treat it was!  UND is currently in their fleet review year – every time they change aircraft within the fleet, they sign a 7-year contract with the aircraft manufacturer.  This year is the end of that contract and it is also the time when they start to bring in other possible aircraft if they were to change.  Diamond Aircraft was the last of the companies to pitch to the Flight Operations Committee.  Then, the Committee will make their recommendation and pass that on to the Dean of Aerospace Sciences who will then make the final decision.  Diamond and 4 other manufactures, including our current companies, Piper and Cessna, have made their presentations already.   By the end of the calendar year, the Committee will give their recommendation.   Part of Diamond’s sales pitch was to actually bring some of their aircraft to demonstrate to leadership at UND Aerospace, flight instructors, and students.  So, getting to ride in a Twin Star even though I’m not currently flight training with UND was the highlight of my week!

Some Highlights of the DA 42…

The DA42 is probably the most advanced aircraft I’ve ever flown in.  The GPS system is state of the art with the Garmin 1000 that is fully digital with live weather and traffic.  The Twin Star is also equipped with a deicing system for flight into known icing – another fantastic safety feature.  In addition to the best GPS system, the aircraft itself also has 2 turbocharged, fuel injected, diesel engines when combined produce of approximately 340 horsepower!  One fascinating feature of the Twin Star is the engine system called the Full Authority Digital Engine Controls, a.k.a., the FADEC system.  This system, as you might guess, controls the engine with a highly sophisticated computer.  This means you have less systems to monitor as a single pilot and the computer can make all the precise adjustments for best performance.  Pretty cool, right?!?  The FADEC is top of the line and also is directly related to the Twin Star’s ability to save on fuel burn which means it costs less to operate over the long run.

In case you can’t tell, I’ve been “geeking out” about this spectacular piece of equipment!

Now for the fun part: the flight!

Even though I wasn’t able to actually fly the plane, I was able to sit in N126NG (the Twin Star) and watch everything from the back seat.  This aircraft proved to be quite spacious and clean with leather seats, a great little foot cubby, and doors that remind you of a sports car.  One thing that significantly different in this aircraft, compared to the current UND fleet, is the “stick” that is used to control the aircraft.  Normally we utilize an actual yoke which is common for many, many aircraft.  Another noticeable item is that the aircraft is incredibly quiet.  Even with 2 engines running, you could easily have your headset removed in the cockpit and not be terribly bothered by having the aircraft running.  I really could keep talking and talking about this aircraft, but I did take a lot of pictures which I feel captures the experience a lot more than words can.

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Diamond Aircraft Representative, Erick Bryant, giving instruction on the Twin Star’s operation.
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I had the last minute idea to do a piece on this flight! I’m glad I remembered to bring materials to capture this great opportunity!
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VFR on top putting the Twin Star through maneuvers.
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Dead right engine — the performance despite the fact that we were operating on one engine was amazing!
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The Garmin 1000 GPS system is amazing!
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I’m not currently rated to fly in the “soup” (aka, the clouds). This was a great opportunity to experience being in the clouds!
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Clear and a million! What a fantastic view!
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Have to keep my “passenger” strapped in — don’t want it to fly out!
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Valentin Arredondo, UND Flight Instructor, does the engine run-up with just the flick of a switch!
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“See yourself at UND”! Nice pitch, Diamond!

To read more about the Twin Star, check out an article published by AOPA at this link!

There’s a nice Twin Star for sale, check it out!

To read more on the FADEC system, check out the Wikipedia page!

Special thanks for Erick Bryant & Valentin Arredondo for allowing me to feature them this week!

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