FLYING Magazine

The light twin has long straddled the line between the added security of its second engine and the control challenges presented if one engine quits.

Since the first of its kind—the Wright Flyer, if you go back all the way—airplane designers have addressed the tension between power and control in a variety of ways. Some with centerline thrust, such as the Cessna 336 and 337 Skymaster, and others with pilot support, such as the Beechcraft King Air’s latest autothrottles—both under supplemental type certificate and standard in new models—taking flight in the one-engine regime into “easy day” territory.

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But Diamond quietly achieved the latter in elegant ways with the DA62, starting with its first flight in April 2012. Now, more than 11 years later, the twin has become a darling of private owners as well as a handful in flight training.

Futuristic Lines

I first contemplated the DA62 in detail as I flew off its wing in Diamond’s newest sister ship, the DA50 RG, for a pilot report last spring (see “We Fly: Diamond DA50 RG” in Issue 938). We followed a course from Friedrichshafen, Germany (EDNY), after the AERO 2023 conference, to Diamond’s home in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, south of Vienna. While at first take the DA62 appears to be a stouter version of the DA42 that preceded it (and which sees most of its time on training flight lines in Europe and North America), upon inspection it appears even more robust—less a Captain Proton design than a Porsche Cayenne with wings and a T-tail.

READ MORE: We Fly: Cessna TTx

I did my initial multi in 1995 in a pair of Cessna 310s—first a J-model belonging to master Twin Cessna instructor Chuck Clemen, and the second a striking P-model with a jaunty red stripe at Longmont Air Services at what is now KLMO in Colorado. I started an airline transport pilot certificate course in a Piper Seminole at one point—and that’s another story—but was less than impressed with it after enjoying the stately, still-modern ramp presence and performance of the 310. But the lack of single-engine climb rate on takeoff in Colorado even in the 310 sobers you up quickly.

The gull-wing doors on both sides offer great access to the cabin for stowing to the DA62’s substantial useful load. [Jim Payne]

That’s where the DA62 demonstrates its difference. With a single-engine service ceiling of 13,000 feet, you might actually be able to climb to the pattern for a landing following an engine failure after takeoff at mile-high elevations—as opposed to closing both throttles and aiming for the softest spot like you were in a single.

While the DA42 came in a couple of versions, one with Lycoming and one with Austro Engine powerplants, the DA62 entered both EASA and FAA certification with the AE-330s, a bespoke jet-A burner based on a Mercedes-Benz automotive diesel engine. Originally having a 1,000-hour TBO, the bar was raised in 2019 to1,800 hours, with estimated overhaul costs still in flux as of press time. But regardless, it’s great news—saving money for engines making it to the later TBO.

FADEC Baseline

The DA62’s genius lies in the way the designers architected the FADEC-enabled engines to leverage that control into a safety net for the pilot to use in the event of a power loss. But the simplification of operation begins on engine start and carries on throughout the flight.

READ MORE: We Fly: Garmin Autoland for the Beechcraft King Air 200

The before-takeoff checks illuminate how this works. The dance of checking prop, mixture, and mags—involving six levers in most standard light twins—is replaced with the 20-second-long ECU test that runs its automated magic when you press and hold the button on each engine in sequence. The fuel system also follows the simplicity rule, with two tanks centered between the fore and aft spars and within the stout carbon fiber structure to attain the level of crashworthiness for which Diamond airplanes are known. To crossfeed in the event of single-engine operations, or to balance fuel between the wings, you place the fuel on/off lever into that position for the tank, with the red off position guarded with a sliding, red metal gate.

Flight Test

I took the opportunity to fly with Micke Lang, pilot and delivery manager in flight operations for Diamond Aircraft, out of the European factory location at Wiener Neustadt (LOAN). After watching the previous days’ ballet of aerial photography of the DA62, with its steep turns and quick breaks, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the stick—yes, a twin with a control stick—and feel those maneuvers for myself.

Lang briefed me on the flight ahead prior to getting on board the airplane. Then he walked me through the engine start, flipping the master switch on and pushing the silver button on the left and then right as we cleared both sides visually. Soon we were calling our position on the 1,067-meter (3,501 feet) runway for a normal takeoff, which in our very light configuration—with half tanks and just the two of us on board—took less than half its length.

We cruise-climbed up at 110 knots indicated (VY is 89 kias) to a moderate altitude of 4,500 feet msl from which to begin the high work series, starting off with a power-off stall with flaps and a mild relaxation of pressure around 70 knots on the tape. No bad habits as long as both engines are turning in equal measure. In fact, the aerodynamics compared favorably to the single-engine retract DA50 RG I’d just tested, definitely showing the family resemblance.

Single-Engine Operations

We put the DA62 through a full palette of ops on one engine—with Lang shutting down the left engine with a flip of the switch, upon which time it automatically went into feather, prop stopped. I took the controls, and put in 5 degrees of bank into the good engine, but tooling around on one above the Austrian fields felt only nominally different from two-engine maneuvers, handling wise. The left side is the critical engine, but the low power adjustment needed to maintain level flight at that altitude made it feel decidedly not so critical. It makes sense that VYSE at 87 kias is so close to VY in this twin.

After conducting the demonstration of the loss of power, bringing that side back to life was as simple as maintaining the recommended airspeed, 80 knots (76 knots for a stopped prop), allowing the prop to regain forward thrust as I turned the ECU switch back on.

All along the flight, I felt instantly comfortable with the familiar Garmin G1000 NXi up front with two primary flight displays and a central multifunction display. Within its avionics brain, you find the industry standard ESP (enhanced stability protection), an emergency level mode, weather radar via the GWX8000, and Surface Watch ground alerting system. The most recent Phase III software update introduced split-screen functionality, Bluetooth recording of pilot audio, and coupled go-arounds using the GFC 700 autopilot.

Getting Current?

As we returned to base, Micke demonstrated one unique flight regime for the DA62, the accelerated descent. Putting the airspeed tape at the bottom of the yellow arc—at 162 kias and 1,100 fpm down—we smoothly bled off altitude to transition to the charted visual approach back into LOAN. I gave Lang a moment’s pause when I answered his question: How many landings shall we do? Three, I said half in jest, so I can be current.

Yes, in an EASA-registered airplane not logging instruction, that was not really to be the case, but with the ease of operation—and the straightforward approach and touchdown sight pictures for the DA62—it would have been readily accomplished.

Can It Carry Seven?

The target market for the airplane (see “The Owner Experience” below) lies in the coveted six-seater realm, and the DA62 goes one better over standbys such as the Beechcraft Bonanza G36 by allowing for up to seven passengers. To be fair, the rear seats combined are really only workable for a couple of children perhaps, but with seven belts instead of six, that option remains. And with a useful load of up to 1,548 pounds, that choice is real. Front baggage compartments hold up to 66 pounds on each side—and the third row can have an optional fold-down capability to fit in more stuff by volume.

The owner can choose a range of materials and designs based on whether those kids—hypothetical or not—tend to leave a trail of Goldfish crackers and sippy cups behind, or if they’re grown and ready to go looking at college campuses with the pilot on a whirlwind tour.

And while you can make your own paint scheme a reality, the selection of premium colors runs from ruby red to anthracite black. With the leather interior choices on Diamond’s famous crashworthy seats, owners can opt for a variety of options, from highlight stitching to custom panels and carpets.

Market Penetration

Since the DA62 was first delivered in 2015, with two units, Diamond has kept a steady cadence of between 26 to 33 units each year up through 2021.

However, a jump to 53 out the door in 2022 and 30 in the first half of this year signal an uptick in orders. At press time, Diamond had reported a total of 273, according to figures compiled by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, in the hands of mostly ecstatic private owner-pilots.

The significant fleet speaks to the sweet spot that the DA62 has found in the market—for a true family luxury SUV of the air.

The Owner Experience

With nearly 275 in the field, the Diamond DA62 is making pilots happy with their choice.

In the 40 years since he became a pilot, and 20 in the aviation business, John Armstrong of LifeStyle Aviation has flown his share of light twins. But the Diamond DA62 is the airplane of choice to fly every week.

“It’s my go-to airplane, and I love it,” Armstrong says, because it requires relatively little effort from the pilot compared to others in the piston-twin segment.

That sentiment echoed through the voices of the four DA62 owners FLYING interviewed for this article. From high time pilots, such as Armstrong and Scott Thompson, to brand-new ones, like Brett Swanson and John Chaffetz, everyone agreed that the DA62 ranked among the lowest in pilot workload and commensurately high in capability and capacity for their respective missions.

Bill Craven purchased serial number 177 in January 2022—and he transitioned from the Cessna T182T and T206 that he had used to fly his family from the Seattle area to a vacation home in central Washington. Craven was attracted by the DA62’s flight into known icing (FIKI) approval to make the oft-wintry trek over the Cascades. With a similar useful load to the 206 but with an extra engine, the DA62 has proven to be a reliable mount.

“It’s easy to fly, but also a pilot’s airplane,” Craven says, referring to the airplane’s control stick and direct feedback.

Chaffetz started flying in a DA40 in the Los Angeles Basin, so the transition to the DA62 felt natural to him. It also appealed to his passengers.

“The stability is the thing,” he says. “It’s a little bit heavier than the DA40 but still fun to fly. It’s just so much more comfortable on longer trips.”

With the ability to seat up to seven people, depending on their size, owners have options. Thompson has a few tips regarding the configuration.

“It’s really a four-adult, two-kid, or five-adult, two-kid, or five-adults-and-a lot-of-bags airplane,” he says.

And it sips jet-A, which several owners reported was an advantage because of its widespread availability. Several we spoke with reported economy cruise burns of around 15 to 20 gph total.

But for all of that capability, the mechanics of flying the twin remain straightforward. For Swanson, more than any other thing, the simplicity of operating the DA62 lends him a degree of confidence that he truly appreciates.

“The pilot workload is just lower,” he says, which allows him to use the airplane to visit store franchise locations around the Southeastern U.S., with either his wife or several colleagues on board.

Plus, it passes the all-important test for passenger and pilot—satisfaction.

“When it sets down on the runway, it sticks—that’s part of the confidence,” Swanson says, noting that although his insurance was pretty expensive during the first year, it was worth it.

[Jim Payne]

Cockpit at a Glance

A. The engine-start sequence is enabled by the control inherent in the Austro AE-330 powerplants, using the ECU switches for each engine.

B. The Garmin G1000 NXi offers ESP, emergency level mode—and in the latest update, split-screen functionality and coupled go-arounds with the GFC 700 autopilot.

C. The single lever for each engine helps to reduce workload, and one-engine-out operations are streamlined so that bringing back the power on the failed engine feathers the prop.

D. The fuel system is also simplified, and it follows Diamond’s standards for safety and crashworthiness, plus the ability to crossfeed with the slide of a switch.

E. The control sticks are unique among twins, giving the airplane an immediate responsiveness.

[Jim Payne]

[Jim Payne]

Spec Sheet: 2024 Diamond DA62

Price, standard equipped: $1,471,950

Engine: 2 x Austro Engine AE-330, diesel

Propeller: 2 x MT-Propeller MTV-6-R-C-F/CF, composite, three blade

Horsepower: 180 hp per side (177 hp max power, 169 hp max continuous power)

Seats: Up to seven

Length: 30 ft., 1 in.

Height: 9 ft., 3 in.

Wingspan: 47 ft., 10 in.

Wing Area: 184.1 sq. ft.

Wing Loading: 27.54 lbs./sq. ft.

Power Loading: 14.32 lbs./hp

Cabin Width: 4 ft., 2.8 in

Cabin Height: 4 ft., 2.4 in.

Max Zero Fuel Weight: 4,850 lbs.

Max Takeoff Weight: 5,071 lbs.

Empty Weight: 3,523 lbs., depending on options

Max Nose Baggage: 132 lbs.

Max Rear Baggage: 265 lbs.

Useful Load: 1,548 lbs., depending on options

Max Usable Fuel: 86.4 gal. (main + aux.)

Max Operating Altitude: 20,000 ft.

Single-Engine Service Ceiling (ISA, MTOW): 11,000 ft.

Max Rate of Climb (MTOW, ISA, SL): 1,028 fpm

Cruise Speed at 85% Power: 185 ktas, ISA, 12,000 ft.

Max Cruise Speed: 192 ktas, ISA, 14,000 feet msl, at 4,407 lbs.; 190 ktas at MTOW

Max Range: 1,288 nm with no reserve

Fuel Consumption at 60% power: 11.8 gph, 12,000 ft.

Stall Speed, Flaps Up: 72 kcas MTOW

Stall Speed, Full Flaps: 68 kcas MTOW

VMC: 76 kias, flaps up

VYSE: 89 kias (MTOW)

Takeoff Over 50 Ft. Obs: (ISA, sea level, MTOW) 2,732 ft.

Landing Over 50 Ft. Obs: (ISA, sea level, MLW) 2,559 ft.

This column first appeared in the December 2023/Issue 944 of FLYING’s print edition.

The post We Fly: Diamond DA62 appeared first on FLYING Magazine.

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