Diamonds New Twin

Are these guys nuts? A new twin in the current market seems doomed but check out the numbers before deciding.

Considering the overall softness in the GA market, does the world really need a new piston twin? Diamond seems to think so, since thats exactly what it announced at the Berlin Airshow in May.

Using the fuselage and wings of the DA40 as its basis, Diamond plans a twin powered by a pair of Thielart TAE 125 diesels, a set-up that hasnt even been certified in the single-engine version yet.

Moreover, Diamond plans an aggressive certification project that will have the DA42 TwinStar available for delivery in 2004. The company made similar claims for the DA40 and more or less delivered on the time line.

Oddly, the claimed specs for the TwinStar are so bold that were going to suspend our usual skepticism and allow as how this thing might actually make sense, despite the dismal state of the current piston twin market.

With a pair of diesels totaling 270 HP, the TwinStars projected performance is 180 knots on 9 GPH of Jet-A or 200 knots at 12,000 feet on 12 GPH, a fuel flow that would have the IO-520 in a Baron barely breathing and chugging along 20 knots slower, at least.

Claimed useful load is in the 900-pound range, about 100-pounds more than the DA40 Star. The cabin will be virtually identical, although the wings be a bit longer to accommodate the engines. Instead of fixed gear, the TwinStar will be a retractable. No details are available yet on the systems but we expect it will be just like the Star, primarily electric.

As displayed in Berlin, the aircraft had a sophisticated flat-screen cockpit reminiscent of the system Avidyne is designing for the Eclipse 500 personal jet. But Peter Maurer, Diamonds president, says its unlikely to be initially certified with such a panel, at least in the U.S.

Is there room for such a thing in the world market? Interestingly, at $360,000, Diamond has in mind two things: the TwinStar will be a Seminole killer-not hard when you figure only a handful of those are made each year and, get this, itll compete with the Cirrus SR22.

Diamond figures why fool around with a ballistic parachute when you can have the safety and redundancy of a second engine, go faster and on less fuel for about the same purchase price.

Frankly, we cant find fault with the concept. But, as the Eclipse jet will rely on the engine magic of Williams International, the TwinStar will bank on those Thielart engines delivering the promised power and economy. If Diamond meets its time line, we wont have to wait long to find out.