Aircraft Review

July 2009 Issue

Diamond DA42-L360: Lycoming Reborn

When Thielert’s diesel engines tanked, Diamond needed a hurry-up option for new buyers and beached diesel owners. The L360 delivers.

When Diamond was hard into its certification of the DA42 Twin Star in 2005, it knew it was taking a big chance on the untried Thielert 1.7 diesel engines. But it also hedged its bets by running a near parallel certification effort of the same airplane fitted with Lycoming’s angle-valve IO-360, a well proven powerplant. It back-burnered the Lycoming project once it appeared that the diesel engines were both preferred and were gaining ground in the market. It now appears as though the Lycoming hedge is paying off, by necessity. As is well known by now, the Thielert diesels turned out to have a spotty service record at best, a disastrous one at worst. The engine required numerous periodic replacement parts—mainly gearboxes and clutches—but also lots of unscheduled (and expensive) maintenance that all but tanked the 1.7 diesels as serious contenders. As we go to press this month, Diamond is finishing certification details on the resurrected Lycoming project under its new version of the airplane, the DA42-L360. (The trade name Twin Star has been dropped because of a trademark dispute with a helicopter manufacturer.) The Lycomings will be offered as an option in place of the newly certified Austro AE300, which Diamond also brought to fruition by launching a company just for that purpose. The new engines will be available for both new aircraft and owners of existing Thielert diesel models who may wish to convert. (We suspect many will.)

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