DA-20 Autopilot

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RMarkSampson
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DA-20 Autopilot

Post by RMarkSampson »

I'm going to populate this topic over the next month or so. Flight schools did not need them but I have read several times where other DA-20 owners have lamented over their desire to have an autopilot - most recently on the "how to value a DA-20" blog. 20 years ago, DAI made a brief attempt at building a bling DA-20 which included an autopilot. I was lucky that I was in the market when one of those aircraft came up for sale. But it pains me to know that many of my fellow DA-20 owners can't get the same. So I'm going to try and help.

Call me naïve, but from what I can see, it is not a major effort to install a STEC-30 autopilot in a DA-20. DAI already built the path to do so. You can see that path by looking at the Integrated Parts Catalog (IPC), Chapter 22. The challenge as I see it is to dig into chapter 22 without needing to file Chapter 11 (bankruptcy). I saw a STEC-30 for sale used on eBay for about $5K. I'm guessing they are reasonable available and reasonably priced due to other upgrades to other aircraft where they are tossing a STEC-30 to the back of their hangar. I'm inclined to think that many DA-20 owners would elect to make this upgrade if they could see one that has been installed by DAI. So I will attempt to photograph the guts of my aircraft (under the seat pants and behind the panel) to show my DA-20 brethren how it was done. My next annual is not until next year so some pictures might wait until then, but most pictures are doable without a major disassembly.

More to follow...
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Pascal
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Re: DA-20 Autopilot

Post by Pascal »

Thanks Mark. I’m interested.
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Re: DA-20 Autopilot

Post by okent »

Me too, thanks Mark.
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Re: DA-20 Autopilot

Post by C-1Pilot »

RMarkSampson wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:18 pm
I'm going to populate this topic over the next month or so. Flight schools did not need them but I have read several times where other DA-20 owners have lamented over their desire to have an autopilot - most recently on the "how to value a DA-20" blog. 20 years ago, DAI made a brief attempt at building a bling DA-20 which included an autopilot. I was lucky that I was in the market when one of those aircraft came up for sale. But it pains me to know that many of my fellow DA-20 owners can't get the same. So I'm going to try and help.

Call me naïve, but from what I can see, it is not a major effort to install a STEC-30 autopilot in a DA-20. DAI already built the path to do so. You can see that path by looking at the Integrated Parts Catalog (IPC), Chapter 22. The challenge as I see it is to dig into chapter 22 without needing to file Chapter 11 (bankruptcy). I saw a STEC-30 for sale used on eBay for about $5K. I'm guessing they are reasonable available and reasonably priced due to other upgrades to other aircraft where they are tossing a STEC-30 to the back of their hangar. I'm inclined to think that many DA-20 owners would elect to make this upgrade if they could see one that has been installed by DAI. So I will attempt to photograph the guts of my aircraft (under the seat pants and behind the panel) to show my DA-20 brethren how it was done. My next annual is not until next year so some pictures might wait until then, but most pictures are doable without a major disassembly.

More to follow...
Hi Mark,

I’m new to the forum and just came across this thread. I ordered my DA20 C1 and took delivery at the factory, June of 2004. I was one of the first DA20’s, new from the factory with the STEC 30, w/GPSS steering installed by Diamond. It was coupled to a Garmin 530. I built mine towards more of a cross country aircraft, rather than a trainer. Of course it had leather interior. I was downsizing, having previously partnered in a Grumman Twin and before that a Tiger.

Sadly, I sold my DA20, late 2009, as I felt I wasn’t putting enough hours on her the last year and saw the bleak fiscal times we were headed towards. I got out, figuring I could get back in, which I did recently with an LSA. Again, sadly, I found out my prized DA20, met its fait, in September of this year. I’m still trying to find out more, thankfully there were no fatalities, but it appears it won’t fly again.

More to the point, the STEC 30, as installed in the -20, w/GPSS, is a great tool. Coupled with a good navigator, it flys approaches and all you do is manage speed. I highly recommend this combination. Although our planes are not IFR certifiable, I do wish I had ordered a heated pitot, which at the time was only installed on the personal DA20, of Christian Dries, Diamonds owner, but was told they could install it. I declined.
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