Moving from DA40-XLS to DA40-NG Questions

Any DA40 related topics

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gkaplan
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Moving from DA40-XLS to DA40-NG Questions

Post by gkaplan »

I'm considering purchasing a new DA40-NG as a replacement to my previous 2012 DA40-XLS. I'm very interested to hear opinions from other Diamond Aviators who have switched from the DA40-180 to the NG. I'm interested both in operational aspects as well as maintenance. Overall, once I got a few issues sorted out with my DA40-XLS, it was a fantastic reliable aircraft with good useful load. What are the common maintenance complaints about the NG? My biggest concern with the NG is its weight & balance. With air conditioning, the CG is better balanced but the useful load suffers such that it essentially becomes a 2-seater. Without air conditioning, it is somewhat nose heavy. I've also read and heard a bit about cross-feed fuel pump issues and squeaky brakes. Would love to hear pros/cons of the NG from people who are flying them. Has anyone experienced the corked nosewheel issue in an NG?
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chili4way
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Re: Moving from DA40-XLS to DA40-NG Questions

Post by chili4way »

Here's a briefing of some operational differences I developed for helping the pilots who share my plane (a 2019 DA40NG) understand "what's different" from the DA40-180 they had previously flown. Two important caveats - I am not a CFI and the AFM supersedes what I've written. In some cases I've been more conservative than the AFM (40% power vs. 50% power while the engine is warming up, and two minutes of turbocharger cooldown vs. one.)
DA40NG Orientation - 29Aug20.pdf
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My plane has air conditioning and so that means ~500 lbs of people and stuff inside the airplane with full fuel. That works for my missions just fine: two people traveling on vacation (which is different than just two people). I've carted two people and a camping gear for a week at Airventure.

The biggest MX concern about Austro Engines is the smaller number of locations that are qualified & experienced in servicing these engines. The level of that concern varies depending on where you are located and what Diamond Authorized Service Centers (DASC) are located acceptably close by. There are several widely-reported issues with newer Austro Engines that Diamond is addressing. Nobody is happy that these occurred or the time it is taking to resolve these. Fortunately, these are expected to be one-time fixes and do not introduce additional scheduled MX. The oil pump and high pressure fuel pump issues are the key examples (and these can easily be conflated or confused). There have also been several mandatory service bulletins regarding the turbocharging system, mostly concentrated around the waste gate actuator. You'll also see a few reports of maintenance-induced-failures (MIF) if the induction air system is not properly serviced during 100-hour oil changes.

There is currently some uncertainty about the overhaul (vs. replacement) of Austro Engines when they reach 1800 hours of service time. Late last year Austro announced they were suspending overhaul service and shifting to replacement engines (still requiring engine returns). What this means economically has yet to be made clear (i.e. what's the price difference between replacement and overhauled engines). This difference will affect cost-per-hour calculations. It's also unclear if this is temporary or permanent. If permanent, this undercuts the economic vs. weight tradeoff made by using the cast iron block of the Austro compared to the aluminum block of the Thielert/Continental predecessor. The difference could be $10-15 per hour on a base of something around $240/hour. (Always treat these kinds of numbers like perfume, sniff them but don't swallow them -- a tweak of how you do your accounting/taxes and how much you fly each year can swing these numbers substantially.). Hopefully, we will soon learn more from Diamond & Austro.

What I like best about the DA40NG: you fly the airplane, not the engine; the airplane performance at 10-15K is great for XC trips, you can obtain discounts on Jet-A that are not available for avgas. I also appreciate the slightly shorter wingspan. If you like the G1000, you'll really like the G1000 NXI and the BT audio panel. These are in addition to the wonderful flying qualities of the DA40 airframe.
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Re: Moving from DA40-XLS to DA40-NG Questions

Post by gyro3816 »

When I purchased my XLS last Jan, I weighed upgrade to an NG (a local at my airport happened to be selling at same time). Ultimately I made the decision to stick with the IO360 on a few simple points.
1) The lycoming is bullet proof and no one can argue that as long as that prop spins, you’ll have spark. The turbo diesel is a complex piece of components that doesn’t support simplicity in any form.
2) Any shop in the USA can work on the lycoming
3) The fuel savings may make sense to a flight school, but I’m a single owner and I don’t share my airplane, so there is no cost recovery.
4) Higher altitude performance gains - not meaningful for my type of flying and I live in Michigan (non-mountainous)
5) TBO is lower on Diesel and I’ve heard some concerns on getting parts and balance tools.
6) Given airframe is exactly the same, and the useful load is nearly exactly equal between NG and 180 version, one can only conclude that there is significant margin on the lycoming in comparison to the heavier NG. This may not matter during normal flying but could make a difference in unintended icing or accelerated stall conditions.
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Re: Moving from DA40-XLS to DA40-NG Questions

Post by Boatguy »

Paul did a good job covering most of the issues you asked about. A few additional comments:

I did not switch, but I have flown in the Lycoming DA40.

- If you only fly east of the Rockies, the turbocharging is probably not important to you. In the west, the turbocharging makes a huge difference.
- I don't have AC and have not noticed any nose heavy flying issues. I did once have a 240lb CFI (I'm about 190) which necessitated putting a 20lb dumbbell in the baggage extension to stay in the envelope. With wife and luggage it's never been an issue.
- Never had any issues with the fuel transfer. Brakes are the same on all DA40s.
- The corked nose wheel is also not specific to the NG. I had that problem, installed the fin and no more problem.
- There is virtually no engine management. No mixture management, no cooling issues, always starts immediately.
- The engine is significantly smoother and quieter than the 180 resulting in less vibration and less fatigue.

The biggest drawback is the lack of Austro engine service shops.
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Re: Moving from DA40-XLS to DA40-NG Questions

Post by CFIDave »

Having instructed in both (and owned a Lycoming), I'd add the following additional differences in how the planes fly:
- On takeoff, the lighter less nose-heavy Lycoming DA40 "levitates" off the runway. As it reaches flying speed, the pilot doesn't have to rotate as much; instead the plane lifts off the runway without much pitch, like riding an elevator. In contrast, the Austro NG model requires pulling back on the stick for rotation, just like its bigger sibling Diamond DA42 and DA62 twins.
- The DA40NG maintains a 700-800 fpm climb all the way to a typical 10-12K foot cruising altitude, which is the altitude it takes to obtain a 150 knot TAS. In contrast, the normally-aspirated Lycoming rate of climb -- while often achieving 1000 fpm at sea level, falls to below 500 fpm once above about 6000 feet. But the Lycoming DA40 (at least those with Powerflow and speed gear) can cruise at 150 TAS at lower altitudes, and is typically operated WOT at 7-8000 feet for optimal cruise performance at about 10 gph.
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Re: Moving from DA40-XLS to DA40-NG Questions

Post by gkaplan »

Thanks to everyone who has commented on this thread. VERY helpful indeed. As far as A/C is concerned, does it work well or would it be better to have the extra weight for payload?
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Re: Moving from DA40-XLS to DA40-NG Questions

Post by Boatguy »

I'm in California and went for the lighter plane and Jet Shades (mandatory). It can be hot in the summer until I get up to cruise altitude. Training for IR at low altitude all day (< 4,000') was unpleasantly warm. I'm pretty sure the east coast and southern owners will say it's required and they wish it worked better.

One odd thing not previously mentioned is that the fresh air vents are the loudest noise in the NG cockpit! Closing them leaves a pleasantly peaceful cabin. I'm not sure what the tradeoff is with AC.
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Re: Moving from DA40-XLS to DA40-NG Questions

Post by haykinson »

I've got an NG on order, replacing a late-2007 XLS. I ended up going without the A/C — having lived without it for a few years now, I am ok dealing with hot weather on the ground for a few minutes at some airports during a few months, since that will get me more useful load year-round. My reasoning overall for going with the change to the NG is a) useful load, b) cleaner & cheaper fuel, c) proximity to a Diamond service center.

As for the vents — on my plane, I've used the duct tape trick (taping half the vent closed on the outside) which reduces the noise significantly while reducing airflow only insignificantly. I think this idea came from somewhere on this forum. I'm not sure if the same approach will work on the NG, but I presume that it will given that the shape of the air vent is very similar.
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Re: Moving from DA40-XLS to DA40-NG Questions

Post by Donkadillapig »

Not mentioned here are "Jet Shades"...
Obscenely expensive for what they are, but effective.
Imo, the A/C on it's own is "somewhat" effective, with shades, fully effective.
Boatguy raises a good point about noise... I hate noise! The fresh air vents are an affront in the otherwise serene cockpit of an NG. Even just cracked they provide a dull roar that even Messer's Bose can't eliminate.
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Re: Moving from DA40-XLS to DA40-NG Questions

Post by CFIDave »

To Ilya's comment about using tape on the DA40's air vents to reduce cabin noise: Diamond took notice of this practice and changed the shape of the fuselage fresh air intakes on DA40NGs. So no need to use duct tape on a newer DA40NG.

As for air conditioning, factory A/C on *ALL* Diamonds (it's the same RACC II unit on DA40NG, DA42-VI, and DA62) is inadequate or barely adequate -- IMHO it lacks sufficient cooling capacity to keep the cabin comfortable, especially in the US east or south where heat is combined with high humidity. The temperature-control thermostat is wasted, since I don't know of a single Diamond owner with A/C who ever sets it to anything but LO in an attempt to cool down the cabin. If you're on the fence about ordering A/C with a DA40, don't. For a new DA42-VI or DA62 I'd go ahead and get it, just to help with resale value of your million-dollar plane. JetShades are essential to at least give the A/C a chance to work.

(Note that the CabinCool aftermarket air conditioning found on some Lycoming DA40s actually works well. But it requires a belly-mounted external heat exchanger that reduces airspeed by about 5 knots.)
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