DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Fri May 24, 2013 7:31 pm

HF (High Frequency) Radio:

While preparing to depart Reykjavik, Iceland for Greenland, we had to prepare for the the use of an HF Radio. Why? The distances across the water between Greenland and Iceland (and between Greenland and Canada) where mandatory position reports are required are beyond the range of standard VHF (Very High Frequency) radio transmissions. At the lower altitudes flown by a DA42 the curvature of the earth (ocean) blocks the line-of-sight transmission of VHF signals, whereas the lower frequency HF signals can better follow the earth's curvature.

The downside of lower frequencies is longer wavelengths; hence a much longer antenna is required -- not one normally installed on a Diamond aircraft. (Some older aircraft had HF wire antennas that spanned from the cockpit to the tip of the vertical stabilizer on the tail.)

So Fritz developed a clever solution: Back in Austria he first installed an old automotive HF radio underneath the right side instrument panel, along with a 24V to 12V inverter to feed power from the DA42. The HF radio also required audio input and output connections to the G1000 audio system.

Then he brought along a spare right side canopy window with a hole in it attached to a short plexiglass tube that would extend outside the aircraft. On the inside of the window was attached a spool of copper wire that could be fed through the hole. Here's the spare window:
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And here it is in the aircraft:
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To use, simply fold down the existing right side canopy window and plug the hole with the new window -- the vacuum produced by the fuselage/canopy while in flight will keep the spare window pressed into the canopy window opening. Then tune the radio to the correct frequency, attach additional wire length to the end of the copper wire, feed it through the hole, and let out enough (just like a fishing line) to match the wavelength needed for reception. How do you know how much wire to trail behind the aircraft? I'm not sure, but Fritz knows. :) While this was probably not an FAA-certified avionics installation, it worked.

An alternative to using an HF radio for position reports is to try and relay your position via a higher-flying airliner using the plane's standard VHF radios. But for obvious reasons that's not always practical. Moreover, on an earlier ferry flight Fritz almost wasn't allowed into Canada because the Canadians insisted that he switch from VHF to an HF frequency for communications, and he didn't have a working HF radio at the time. So now he always brings one along.

Maybe someday satellite phones -- like the new Garmin GSR 56 Iridium satellite unit recently introduced for the DA42-VI -- will replace this type of system for position reporting.
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Fri May 24, 2013 9:43 pm

Flight 3: Reykjavik, Iceland (BIRK) to Narsarsuaq, Greenland (BGBW)

DA42 G1000 logfile: http://www.diamondaviators.net/reports/flights/3933

The first flight of Day 2: 679 nm and 3 hours 56 minutes from Iceland to Greenland was definitely the most spectacular, thrilling, and just plain amazing. It's what made the whole trip so memorable.

We had "severe clear" good visibility weather for our flight out of Reykjavik, with departure after takeoff passing right over the city:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o06K5Pz ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]

After we turned southwest towards our destination in Greenland, we flew at 14,000 feet above a broken cloud layer with little to see. But it was fun to look at the G1000 MFD display (be sure to click on the photo for an expanded view):
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Our first course waypoint and reporting position was EMBLA, but beyond that we had to input user-defined waypoints into the G1000 including "N6330" for 63 degrees North, 30 degrees West longitude, and similarly "N6240" for 62 degrees North, 40 degrees West longitude.

But look at the elevation for the Greenland icecap -- we were cruising at 14,000 feet and all the red squares (for the terrain warning system) on the icecap were above that!! The "MAX ELEV (FT)" shown on the right side elevation legend was 17,181 feet! Fortunately as you can see our course would take us over a smaller, lower portion of the icecap with an elevation below 7000 feet.

After we got about half-way to Greenland the clouds disappeared, and we could literally see for hundreds of miles over a perfectly calm blue sea. And when we were still more than 100 nm away, we began to see the first appearance of Greenland on the horizon.

Here's what the east coast of Greenland looked like from about 60 nautical miles away:
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Here you can also hear Fritz give a position report to Greenland approach "Thuderstorm" at N6240 (at this point we were within VHF radio range):
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMTqIVkN ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]

And the view only got better as we got closer to the coastline -- note the big swirl of ice directly ahead of us:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsBuG6OP ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]
(No audio is heard on this video, since at this point Fritz and I were speechless.)

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Here's an iPhone video shot as we crossed the coastline:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHhaw7h7 ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Fri May 24, 2013 10:34 pm

Flight 3: Reykjavik, Iceland (BIRK) to Narsarsuaq, Greenland (BGBW) Continued...

Here's what crossing the Greenland Icecap (the very southern portion which "only" rose to about 7000 feet) looked like:
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And here we've just crossed the icecap getting ready to begin our descent to Narsarsuaq airport (hard to believe there's an airport ANYWHERE around here!):
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As this video begins, the aircraft is descending through 12,000 feet (from 14,000 feet earlier while crossing the southern icecap) in preparation for landing. The airport is not yet visible, but as Fritz explains by pointing at the MFD map, it requires "hanging a left at the 2nd glacier" for the visual approach to Narsarsuaq:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9vgNajo ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]

Below is the SPECTACULAR approach down the glacier to a landing at sea level. As this video begins, the aircraft is descending through 8,000 feet to begin the approach for landing. The airport is not yet visible until the aircraft turns left for the visual approach into Narsarsuaq.

Fritz pulled the landing gear circuit breaker to stop the annoying "gear up" beeping while the plane was diving with the engine throttles fully retarded -- and stuck a piece of paper between the throttles as a reminder. :thumbsup: During the trip down the glacier, the aircraft is steeply descending at nearly 3000 fpm at airspeeds approaching 180 knots IAS (which is why the MAX SPEED warning is visible). Narsarsuaq Airport is visible at the end of glacier valley:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNpK3vcx ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]

After we landed and the aircraft is being refueled I took the following panorama 360 degree video while standing out on the mostly-deserted ramp -- we were the only aircraft at the airport. Because Narsarsuaq is located near the southern tip of Greenland with a runway long enough for many jets, it can be used for airliners that have to divert for mechanical or other problems. The white objects seen floating in the water are indeed icebergs. Check out the final frame of the video to see one of the ramp workers taking cellphone pictures of the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit of the DA42.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkscEA3D ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]

Can you pronounce the name of the fuel company supplying Jet-A to our DA42?
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Here's a gratuitous shot of the plane being re-fueled (again see floating icebergs in the background):
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Here I am standing in front of the terminal building to prove that I was actually there: :)
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Here are the front doors just inside the terminal building covered with stickers from all the pilots who have passed through Narsarsuaq:
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And finally, here's our lonely aircraft located out on the ramp as seen from the terminal control tower:
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Sat May 25, 2013 3:41 am

Flight 4: Narsarsuaq, Greenland (BGBW) to Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada (CYYR)

DA42 G1000 logfile: http://www.diamondaviators.net/reports/flights/3932

After about an hour on the ground at Narsarsuaq -- where the only hot food obtainable for lunch was a microwaved hot dog -- it was time to take off for Canada. Our second flight of Day 2 was 679 nm and what should have been about 4 hours of flying. But that was not to be.

In checking the weather forecast maps at Narsarsuaq, we could see that we were going to have some weather issues that would worsen as we got closer to Goose Bay. In particular, while winds early in the flight would be relatively light, they were predicted to increase to at least 50 knots headwind off the coast of Labrador. And at least 2 frontal boundaries near Goose Bay caused a forecast for "severe" icing between 12,000 and 14,000 feet -- the altitudes we had been flying. (I'd never before seen an icing symbol on a weather chart with THREE vertical lines intersecting the letter "U".) But even with some headwinds we felt confident we would make it.

Here's the takeoff and departure over the fiords and bare rocks found along the southwestern coast of Greenland. Communications between the aircraft and Narsarsuaq tower (and then back to "Thunderstorm" Greenland approach) can be heard:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkG28Ed2 ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]
Embarrassing note: Both Fritz and I were so distracted by the scenery with our heads outside the cockpit that we forgot to raise the landing gear until immediately after this video recording terminated. Despite operating near max gross weight, the DA42-VI was climbing so well that neither pilot noticed the gear was still down until after the aircraft had climbed to 8000 feet! :oops:

The flight between Greenland and Labrador started to become a chore when we found ourselves halfway over the wide Davis Strait and the winds had already increased to become a direct 50 knot headwind. At that point our G1000's range ring still showed that we could make Goose Bay with a 45-minute reserve, but if the winds got any stronger we might have to turn back. As a result of the headwinds, we got permission to descend to 10,000 feet and throttled back to extend our range, and it was disheartening to see our groundspeed (water speed?) slow to as little as 113 knots with hours of flying left to go.

Eventually as we crossed the overcast coast of Canada the winds reduced to only about 30 knots on the nose, so we knew we'd make Goose Bay. And the predicted severe icing never materialized. But the expected 4-hour flight took a long 5 hours and 33 minutes.

Our DA42 was not yet equipped with satellite weather (a Garmin GDL69A XM satellite weather receiver). Thus we had no knowledge of localized weather phenomenon except for minimal radio reports. So we were surprised by a storm at the Goose Bay airport that we arrived just as we did:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZh8yh_r ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]
Note the storm's wall cloud on the left side, normally associated with gust fronts and cumulonimbus. As we flew towards the airport the aircraft's Garmin G1000 was showing us with headwinds of 38 knots at a very low 2000 feet. Yet the airport tower originally reported only minimal surface winds as the storm came through, and our aircraft fortunately experienced only heavy rain and sleet while Fritz made a nice landing.

The storm didn't last long, allowing us to unload all the heavy rafts, immersion suits, and beacons we had been carrying since Wick, Scotland without getting too wet.

Here's the aircraft with its reflection on the wet ramp at Goose Bay:
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The town at Goose Bay had a feel of a frontier settlement, with mostly big pickup trucks, muddy and heavily potholed roads, and the restaurant for dinner playing country music. I got to explain to Fritz that the Budweiser he had just ordered was made by Anheuser Bush in the US and had absolutely no resemblance to the Budweiser beer he had experienced from the Czech Republic -- yup, I was surely back in North America! The hotel we stayed at, simply called "North 1" was pretty basic, with my hotel room experiencing the loud sound of water from the storm dripping off the roof and hitting the metal of a window air conditioning unit. But they had WiFi with minimal bandwidth to the Internet. :)

Tomorrow we fly to the Diamond factory in Canada...but first we had to go through "France." ;)
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by Keith M » Sat May 25, 2013 8:27 am

"Fritz made a nice landing"

It's inspiring to see how someone who is totally confident about his aircraft does it in those conditions, Dave! Your trip reports are thoroughly enjoyable to read.
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by Gasser » Sat May 25, 2013 4:24 pm

Thanks for all the video. Wife and I really enjoyed them. What an adventure.
Would you do it again or was it just grueling enough to make this a one time experience?
Jeff

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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Sat May 25, 2013 4:55 pm

Flight 5: Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada (CYYR) to Quebec City, Quebec, Canada (CYQB)

DA42 G1000 logfile: http://www.diamondaviators.net/reports/flights/3931

The first of our two flights on Day 3, westward across Canada to Quebec City -- 584 nm and 3 hours 54 minutes -- began with beautifully clear weather at Goose Bay. Since we no longer needed an HF radio, prior to departure Fritz disconnected the unit and many of the wires he had installed underneath the right side instrument panel:
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Because a frontal system had passed through and cleared everything out the day before, we were concerned that we'd again experience 50 knot headwinds from the west at altitude. I was able to convince Fritz that we should flight plan for a lower altitude to reduce our headwind exposure, so we settled on 8000 feet. His experience in Austria is to usually fly trips around 14,000 feet to go faster and avoid a bit of "cumulogranite" called the Alps ;) -- so he rarely flies that low.

Here's our takeoff from Goose Bay:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FR8gJDG ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]
If you listen carefully right before we took the runway, an airliner was complaining to ground control that another turboprop aircraft was "blowing my passengers away" on the ramp -- and requested ground control to "please make them stop."

We crossed many miles of wilderness with no visible signs of civilization; scrubby pine trees and rolling rocky countryside with the occasional bigger lake or river:
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Some of the rivers had significant rapids and waterfalls easily visible from 8000 feet. Eventually the headwinds abated and we were able to request a climb to 12,000 feet.

Later we crossed the St. Lawrence River (or maybe the Gulf of St. Lawrence since it was so wide at that point) to its southern shore. There were broken clouds above land on both the northern and southern shores, but over the water it was perfectly clear due to the cold water temperatures limiting convection above:
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Here's our approach and landing at Quebec City, Quebec:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1sWlLwP ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]
Listen to the mix of French and English in use by the air traffic controllers and pilots as we're being vectored all over the place before lining up for the approach. (I could only understand the French-speaking pilots when they said "Roger.") ATC had to keep track of each aircraft's preferred language when making a radio call. Such a mix of native language use with English may be normal in Europe, but was strange to hear in North America.

Approach was complicated by the Quebec tower vectoring (in unrecognizable French) a Canadair CL215 or 415 firefighting water bomber right in front of us (although very difficult to see in the video), forcing us to slow down. After it landed the water bomber coasted all the way to the runway end, and was back-taxiing on the runway directly towards us as we were on final approach. :shock:

In pointing us out to other aircraft, the tower erroneously referred to us as a "Diamond Star" (i.e., a single-engine DA40) rather than as a "Diamond TwinStar" DA42. Of course as a previous DA40 owner this sounded perfectly normal to me.

Here's the aircraft parked on the ramp at the FBO in Quebec City -- at this point we're back to civilization, although many people were speaking French there: :D
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One thing I noticed as I walked around the aircraft was soot stains at both engine exhaust pipes. I had not noticed this before at other fuel stops, but we operated the aircraft differently on this flight to Quebec City. Since we had plenty of fuel to easily make a 584 nm flight, we tried increasing the throttle to 86% and then 92% power to see how fast the DA42-VI would fly at 12,000 feet (answer: 182 and 186 knots). So my assumption is that operating at higher power levels produces more soot from the Austro engine exhaust:
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Sat May 25, 2013 6:11 pm

Gasser wrote:Thanks for all the video. Wife and I really enjoyed them. What an adventure.
Would you do it again or was it just grueling enough to make this a one time experience?
Yes, I would definitely do it again, although it might be a very long time before our finances could ever recover enough to afford flying back in a new DA52. :D
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by CFIDave » Sat May 25, 2013 7:35 pm

Flight 6: Quebec City, Quebec, Canada (CYQB) to London, Ontario, Canada (CYXU)

DA42 G1000 logfile: http://www.diamondaviators.net/reports/flights/3930

The second of our two flights on Day 3, westward across Canada to the Diamond Aircraft factory in London, Ontario -- 495 nm and 3 hours 5 minutes -- was a typically-normal IFR flight except for the taxi to Diamond in London (for which you'll have to watch the video further down the page).

We filed for 12,000 feet to again avoid potentially worse headwinds at higher altitudes and avoid having to wear a "rubber hose up your nose" cannula for O2, and because we weren't in as much of a rush to complete a relatively-brief 3-hour flight. And to think before these ferry flights I used to regard 3 hours of flying in a Diamond as a long time!

Here's the takeoff out of Quebec City; Fritz is in the left seat for the first time, since he wanted to show me some maneuvers near London if the weather permitted canceling IFR and operating VFR (unfortunately the later weather didn't cooperate):
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydLs6tl8 ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]

Right after shooting the takeoff video we were referred to by ATC as a "Katana" (You fly a sophisticated DA40 or DA42 twin and you still get no respect from controllers who think that any "Diamond = Katana." :scratch: )

Here we are flying just to the north of Montreal, Quebec:
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Just off our right wing (not in the photos) though a small break in the clouds we were able to spot Mt. Tremblant with its well-known ski resort still partially-covered with snow.

Here's our landing at London, with a long taxi to the Diamond Aircraft factory:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9wduz7M ... e=youtu.be[/youtube]
The unusual maneuver on the runway right after touchdown was Fritz demonstrating that that if the ILS Localizer indication was within .5 dot left or right, the aircraft must surely be on the runway -- something potentially useful to know for very low visibility landings on very wide runways. My personal preference would be to use a WAAS GPS LPV approach if I really needed that kind of precision.

As seen in the video a surprise awaiting us as we turned onto the taxiway through a wildlife area leading to the Diamond Aircraft factory was first a flock of wild turkeys, followed by a flock of Canada Geese blocking the taxiway. Fritz was forced to slow the aircraft to avoid a "Miracle on the Hudson" goose strike. ;)

Finally in the landing video you can see our welcoming reception by Diamond employees who opened a large door to the factory just as we arrived. In the rain they were even nice enough to grab the aircraft and push it into the factory before Fritz or I could get out.

After 4000 nm, 3 days, and 28 hours of flying, here's DA42-VI "OE-UDK" -- soon to be transformed into "N42DA" -- parked safely and securely in the Canadian Diamond factory awaiting additional equipment and new seat installation:
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Here's a nice shot of a beautiful VANS RV-3 single-seat homebuilt (about 700 pounds empty with a Lycoming O-320 engine) parked in front of our new plane. It has half the wingspan of a DA42. Bill Scott, one of the flight test pilots at the factory, actually commutes to work in this plane from his home with a 2000-foot grass runway, weather permitting. Very nice!
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Finally, I really want to thank pilot Friedrich "Fritz" Lehner for demonstrating how to safely and efficiently ferry a small aircraft across the Atlantic. Definitely the trip of a lifetime for me.
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Re: DA42-VI Ferry Flight to North America

Post by Gnomad » Sat May 25, 2013 8:05 pm

Dave,

Thanks so much for the ANAZING trip report. The pics and videos were incredible, I have been reading in suspense the last 3 days, anxiously awaiting the next update. Clearly a lot of work, it took as long to get this onto DAN as the actual ferry trip! :)

Thanks for sharing with all of us!

As you know, I've been pursuing a dash-6 as well. Any chance of a PIREP on your new plane? Didn't know if that would be something for now, or after you take final delivery and go on some flights of your own. Would love to hear your thoughts on expectations, surprises, disappointments, and just your overall experience actually flying the plane. I could probably come up with 20 detailed questions, but I'll spare you for now! ;)

Thanks again for the write-up and hope to hear more soon!
Eric


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