DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

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DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Fri May 24, 2013 2:15 am

Background:

Last December (2012) we (my pilot wife and I) put down a deposit on a brand new DA42 "dash six" model. As most of you know, Diamond currently produces DA42s only in its Wiener Neustadt, Austria factory about 30 miles south of Vienna.

For awhile Diamond was also producing DA42s in the London, Ontario, Canada factory back when they had a huge order backlog for hundreds of DA42s. Back then major components (painted fuselages, wings, etc.) were being sent in "kit" form from Austria, with final assembly being performed in Canada for North American customers.

But after the recession hit around 2008 -- and with the switch from Thielert to Austro engines -- Diamond stopped producing new DA42s in Canada except for a small number of avgas Lycoming-powered DA42-L360 aircraft. So if we were to get a new DA42-VI, the aircraft would have to be produced in Austria and ferried to North America.

A further complication was that some of the equipment we were accustomed to having in our previous 2008 DA40 XLS was not available for the DA42-VI. This included the Amsafe seatbelt airbags, and the Garmin GDL69A XM satellite weather unit. I learned that the Sirius XM satellite signal footprint only covers North America, so it makes sense that Diamond doesn't offer the GDL69A for European-produced aircraft.

Another development was that while waiting 6 months for our plane to be built, we learned that Diamond would soon start offering a revised "Premium" interior replacing the previous "Platinium" interior for the DA42. The biggest difference is new seats modeled after the new improved seats of the DA40 XLT model currently being built in Canada, incorporating ICT (Infrared Controlled Technology) leather that's supposed to be 20degC cooler in direct sunlight. They're also much more comfortable (e.g., not as hard) as the original DA42 leather seats.

Prototype DA42 Premium seats were produced in Canada for Christian Dries' (Diamond CEO and owner) personal DA42-VI and shipped to Austria for installation. They differ from the DA40 XLT seats in that they recline and have built-in lumbar support. Here's a photo of Christian's aircraft interior with the new seats:
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So our choice was either to wait an additional 12 weeks (in addition to the 6 months we were already waiting) for our aircraft to be produced with the new seats sourced by Diamond from European suppliers, or ferry the aircraft across the Atlantic and then have new seats retrofitted to our aircraft in Canada.

All this is a long way of explaining why the ferry flight wasn't to our home airport in Virginia, but instead from the Diamond factory in Austria to the Diamond factory in Canada. After its ferry flight our aircraft would have to spend a few weeks at Diamond in Canada for installation of the Amsafe seat belts, Garmin GDL69A, and the new seats (which would actually be our original seats removed and rebuilt on the original frames by RM Classic Cars in Blenheim, Ontario -- that's how the prototype seats for Christian Dries' aircraft were also created).
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Fri May 24, 2013 2:58 am

The Trip:

To get from Wiener Neustat, Austria to London, Ontario, Canada required 6 flights over 3 full days of flying -- a distance of slightly over 4000 nm including crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. Here were the airports visited:

LOAN -- Wiener Nustadt, Austria (Diamond Factory)
EGPC -- Wick, Scotland
BIRK -- Reykjavik, Iceland
BGBW -- Narsarsuaq, Greenland
CYYR -- Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada
CYQB -- Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
CYXU -- London, Ontario, Canada (Diamond Factory)

Image

To ferry the aircraft, Diamond supplied their most experienced ferry (and flight test) pilot from Wiener Neustadt, Friedrich "Fritz" Lehrer, whom I learned was also nicknamed "Cowboy." :) As you can imagine, Fritz and I got to know each other well during 28 hours of flying together.

Some of the major issues involved in ferrying a new aircraft are matters of ownership, registration, and insurance for the flight. The way we solved this was that the aircraft would still belong to Diamond during the ferry flight; therefore Diamond would insure the aircraft, and the aircraft would fly under Austrian registry.

Austrian registry presented its own set of challenges. When my wife and I showed up at Wiener Neustadt to accept delivery of our completed aircraft, we couldn't actually take legal possession. So Diamond temporarily put our reserved US N-number "N42DA" on the fuselage for pictures (including being handed the keys by Christian Dries in front of the aircraft -- see http://www.aopa.org/aircraft/articles/2 ... hdown.html).
Image

Then before the first ferry flight, only the letter "N" was removed, leaving "42DA" on the fuselage, and the temporary Austrian registration number of OE-UDK was placed prominently on the tail's dorsal fin -- this works nicely on a DA42 "dash six" with the modified rudder.
Image

The Diamond graphics folks provided an extra pair of letter "N" decals (one for each side) for us to take with us so that the Canadian factory could eventually stick them back on after the ferry trip -- after removing "OE-UDK."

For the entire ferry trip (and now etched into my brain) we operated on the radio as "Oscar Echo Uniform Delta Kilo."
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by Gasser » Fri May 24, 2013 3:49 am

Just awesome. Maybe one day this could be a reality. Really like seeing this and hope I have a chance to get up to Oskosh to see it.
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by Kai » Fri May 24, 2013 4:26 am

Dave, that is an amazing trip. Thanks for sharing!

Do you have EASA licenses or were you allowed to fly under FAA rules? How much did you spend on fuel? What are the prices in Greenland and Iceland like nowadays?
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Fri May 24, 2013 4:27 am

Flight 1: Wiener Neustadt, Austria (LOAN) to Wick, Scotland (EGPC)

DA42 G1000 logfile: http://www.diamondaviators.net/reports/flights/3935

The first flight of the trip proved to be the longest, both in length (979 nm) and in flight time (6 hours and 23 minutes). While our original intent was to fly the entire leg, a backup plan in case the winds didn't cooperate was to make a fuel stop somewhere near the north German coast before beginning the North Sea crossing. Fortunately the winds did cooperate, producing very light winds aloft, then a tailwind, and then a headwind.

Here's Fritz pulling the plane out of one of Diamond's hangars:
Image

To maximize range without going too slow we used only around 60% power, initially at 12,000 feet and then later we were able to get cleared up to 14,000 feet. I elected to use O2 at 14,000 feet or above throughout the trip, trying out our plane's built-in oxygen system and Oxysaver cannulas (Diamond actually provides a set of these and a mask when you order the O2 option).

Here's our takeoff with a nice view of the Diamond factory buildings on the left side of the runway -- you can also hear the Wiener Neustadt unicom operator wishing me well on our journey:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X5O7kCF ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]

BTW, the "shark gills" visible in the video on the left engine nacelle are new to DA42-VI models with factory air conditioning, since that's where the 3rd alternator for the electrically-powered air con is located. The messy wiring on the right side of the instrument panel is for the HF radio temporarily installed under the panel (more about how this was rigged in later posts). The video also shows Fritz copying down the flight's IFR clearance being radioed by ATC.

Here's our flight path on the MFD with the first few programmed waypoints just past Vienna. For US readers, note the crazy airspace boundaries in Austria:
Image
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When the clouds cleared, we were able to see Prague, Czech Republic, a place I've visited multiple times on business trips from the US (sorry about the iPhone propeller streaks):
Image

However for most of our trip I couldn't see much of Europe through the overcast layer below us. In one way this was good, since I've never flown longer distances over water in a small piston aircraft before, so the beginning of our crossing of the North Sea was effectively invisible. Even better, since the engines couldn't see the water either, they didn't activate their over-water "auto-rough" feature. :-D

Here you can see that we were routed to the KARLI waypoint out over the North Sea about 100 miles off the coast of Norway before being allowed to turn towards Wick in Scotland. Note our range ring showing that we still had plenty of fuel to reach a landing at Wick:
Image
Where there were breaks in the clouds, I was surprised to see oil drilling platforms almost everywhere in the North Sea.

Finally (after 6 hours), here's our landing at Wick (EGPC):
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtL63iJM ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]
Despite the aircraft being on an IFR flight plan, approach control assigned a transponder code of 7000 and cut us loose while still in the clouds, We were then then instructed to "blind call" the Wick airport -- what most pilots in the US would call CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency).

Here's our aircraft on the ground at Wick -- admittedly not the prettiest airport I've ever visited:
Image
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Fri May 24, 2013 5:38 am

Kai wrote:Dave, that is an amazing trip. Thanks for sharing!

Do you have EASA licenses or were you allowed to fly under FAA rules? How much did you spend on fuel? What are the prices in Greenland and Iceland like nowadays?
I didn't have to worry about licensing since Diamond ferry pilot Fritz filed all of the IFR flight plans under his Austrian pilot's license.

As for fuel, Fritz paid all the bills. :D Since the cost of the ferry flight was bundled into what we paid for the new aircraft, I really didn't pay attention to what he paid for Jet-A. But with the ability to burn cheaper Jet-A instead of avgas, combined with outstanding diesel fuel economy, we probably spent less on fuel than almost any other aircraft crossing the Atlantic.
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by Aart » Fri May 24, 2013 6:41 am

Dave,
Thanks for sharing this, and congrats on a great plane.
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Fri May 24, 2013 12:37 pm

Another thing I learned while flying over Europe: The way that aircraft fly altitudes is quite different than what's done in North America.

Instead of having "flight levels" everywhere starting 18,000 feet and above, flight levels in Europe can start at any altitude defined locally by ATC -- the "transition altitude" varies by location. Therefore the use of "standard baro" -- 29.92 inches in North America, or 1013 hectopascals in Europe -- instead of the actual barometric pressure starts much lower than 18,000 feet.

In general (and I'm sure European pilots will correct me), when flying during the enroute portion of an IFR flight plan you use standard baro and flight levels. Then when you get handed off to approach control near your destination, the controller over the radio will provide not only the local barometric pressure (called "QNH" and measured in hectopascals), but also tell you the transition altitude where during descent you should switch from standard baro to actual baro. Conversely, during climb out the controller will tell you the transition altitude where you should switch from local actual baro to standard barometric pressure.

So I finally got to fly a Diamond in the flight levels. :D And I learned why the G1000 PFD has a STD BARO soft key.

A related difference is that Europeans don't ever have to say "point" over the radio. First, because barometric pressure in hectopascals is always a whole number without a decimal component, and secondly because frequencies are always given with the word "decimal" instead of "point," e.g., "one two one decimal five." The latter also applies to Canadian ATC, even if they use flight levels always starting at 18,000 feet and inches of mercury just like flying in the US.
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by Joey » Fri May 24, 2013 12:58 pm

Congrats on the new aquistion! There's a nice article on the trip in AOPA ePilot this morning.

New Diamond twin makes first North American touchdown
By Thomas B. Haines
130521diamond.jpg

Left to right: John Armstrong, president of Dominion Aircraft Sales; DA-42-VI owners Sue and Dave Passmore; Christian Dries, CEO of Diamond Aircraft.

The first North American delivery of a Diamond DA42-VI occurred May 7 when Leesburg, Va., pilots Dave and Sue Passmore accepted the keys to their upgraded diesel-powered twin. The DA42-VI (Dash Six) represents the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of improvements to the model originally certified with Thielert diesel engines and also Lycoming avgas engines. Later variants featured Diamond-developed Austro Engine diesels. The Dash Six includes the latest version of the Austro engines and some 21 aerodynamic improvements, such as reduced seams on the fuselage, flush-mounted rivets, greater use of carbon fiber, and more to save some 88 pounds in weight and boost maximum cruise speed to 197 knots true airspeed; normal cruise speeds are routinely greater than 190 KTAS, according to John Armstrong, president of Dominion Aircraft Sales, a Diamond regional distribution center.

The twin, with its fuel-efficient diesel engines, air conditioning, and certified anti-icing system, is a significant step up in performance for the Passmores, who previously owned a DA40 XLS single. The couple plans to use the twin to visit their children across the country from Virginia.

Armstrong arranged a tour of Austria as part of the delivery experience for the couple. Dave Passmore with ferry pilot Friedrich (Fritz) Lehner flew the airplane from the factory in Austria to Diamond’s London, Ontario, facility for a few avionics upgrades. The airplane is expected to be delivered to the couple in Leesburg by the end of May.

Look for a more comprehensive report on the new model in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot magazine
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Fri May 24, 2013 3:52 pm

Flight 2: Wick, Scotland (EGPC) to Reykjavik, Iceland (BIRK)

DA42 G1000 logfile: http://www.diamondaviators.net/reports/flights/3934

The second flight of the trip was shorter than the first, 3 hours 44 minutes while covering 652 nm of mostly open water. After about a one-hour stop at Wick to refuel and file another flight plan, we prepared to launch towards Iceland.
Image

While at Wick the FBO handling agent at Far North Aviation offered to rent us immersion suits, personal rafts, and personal locator beacons, at a cost of something like 50 GBP for a suit, and more for a raft and beacon -- one-way rental to Goose Bay, Ontario, Canada. But before any money could change hands, he asked if we had any room onboard the aircraft to carry additional suits, rafts, and beacons to Goose Bay. Apparently there had been an imbalance of too many aircraft being ferried eastbound to Europe and not enough going westbound in our direction, so Goose Bay had run out of gear, and Wick had accumulated too much.

Since there were just 2 of us onboard the DA42 and the nose baggage compartment was completely empty, we loaded the plane with a set of 6 rafts, 2 suits, and 6 beacons. The total weight about equalled carrying a 3rd adult passenger, spread between the nose compartment and the back seat. With all of our fuel tanks (including the auxiliary tanks behind the engines) topped off, were were probably overweight, but not by too much. The irony of carrying this gear was that Fritz and I decided not to wear the very uncomfortable immersion suits, so all the survival gear probably wouldn't have done us much good if we had to ditch in the icy-cold water. :shock:

During the stop at Wick I had neglected to completely shut down my GoPro camera and killed the battery, so here's the takeoff video captured with my iPhone:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo072jL4 ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]
Check out all the black cows (or are they sheep?) in the fields below.

We flew at 15,000 feet mostly above the overcast cloud layer, but would occasionally be in the cloud tops. As a result of flying through the tops, even at the cold temperatures below -20degC, we started picking up ice on numerous occasions and were forced to use the TKS system. This experience seemed to refute the guidance that you don't need to worry about icing at such low temps. This was my first real experience flying in icing conditions, since I'd always been afraid to fly our DA40 in cold winter clouds.

Fortunately as we crossed the southern coast of Iceland most of the clouds gave way, and we got our first glimpse of the island. Although it was possible to see a few volcanic cones, the area was mostly just covered in thick ice and snow:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yK1Xp2YC ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]
Image
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When we got to the landing at Reykjavik, we popped out of clouds into beautiful clear sunshine; unfortunately my iPhone focused on the inside of the canopy and glare shield reflection :x instead of the scenery outside, so that video was unacceptably blurry and not included here. (But the good news is that I got a terrific clear view of Reykjavik on the takeoff video the next morning -- shown in the next posting.)

I'd been to Reykjavik more than 20 years ago on a business trip, so I wasn't too surprised to see how civilized it was, with a freeway full of auto traffic right off the end of the airport. Here's our plane on the ground:
Image

While at the FBO we ran into the crew of a brand new Quest Kodiac single-engine turboprop (somewhat similar to a Cessna 208 Caravan) that had been stuck for days waiting for the low pressure system and icing conditions to move off the route from Iceland to Scotland -- the route we had just flown. They were obviously interested in our PIREPs of cloud tops and icing since they had no de-ice on their aircraft and were too heavy to fly very high. They were ferrying the Quest from the Idaho factory in the US to a customer in Johannesburg, South Africa by way of Europe!

After clearing customs at the FBO we walked less than 100 yards across a parking lot to a very nice modern hotel furnished in Danish contemporary style:
Image

That was the end of an exhausting first day; tomorrow it's off to the amazing surreal landscape of Greenland!
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