Do I know what I am getting into / Should I buy a Diamond?

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Do I know what I am getting into / Should I buy a Diamond?

Post by hifiaudio2 »

Hi Folks,
Lengthy first post, so thanks for listening and commenting!
Been a lurker for a bit. Nice to meet all of you, this place is a terrific resource!

A bit of background.. I live near Nashville and got bitten by the aviation bug a few months ago along with my 17 y/o son. He decided late last year that an aviation career was for him after a discovery flight and many hours of online research that included a lot of forum reading (even the commercial ones that are basically 100% complaining and sniping, ha).
We decided to take work on our PPL together, but I began by just chilling in the back of the C172 so far, both just to spend time with him, and to keep costs low while we made absolutely certain it was for both of us. We both love it of course. He has around 15 hours and is about to solo, although weather keeps pushing the date.

Since he plans on working through all of his ratings back to back, and should be able to fly much more this summer and into the fall. Plus, he is graduating HS early this coming Dec, so he will also have all of next spring and summer to dedicate to flying before starting college (probably NOT a collegiate aviation degree, because doing that will mean he has to WAIT all the way to fall of 2023 before continuing his ratings past PPL).

All of that is pertinent because one of the ways I hope to defray the costs of getting a new Diamond would be to save on rental costs, especially if compared to the ~205-220/hr wet rates that the DA40 goes for here. I would plan on my son being my CFI, and all of MY training hours being in our own plane. A fly in that ointment is that, with a current delivery date for a new DA40 being next March, he won't be able to get nearly as many of his hours in our plane. We can also have him stay in the $180/hr C172, but I feel a lot better about him being in solo cross countries in a DA40, so that cost jumps at least $25 and hour.

So I have a few questions, and definitely welcome any feedback or comments that you think of not only on my questions, but on anything I am NOT asking or perhaps thinking about.

I'm considering a new DA40. I was at first told to expect about a $625K new price, but from the latest price list, it looks like to option it all out, it would likely be closer to $725K. Perhaps a few things I included are not really needed, but that would actually be one of my questions.. "what" features are truly worth it and which should I leave on the table?

As mentioned, this plane will be our trainer, and also serve as the general "family airplane" for the foreseeable future. It actually won't come close to holding all of my family, as there are 6 of us (two very young kids and another teenager along with my wife and the already mentioned 17 year old), but I certainly can't afford a Da62, or the $55k insurance I was told to expect, yet.

So again the first question is "what options should I look at"
Second - if I am looking to defray the costs, should I look heavily at Diamondshare, or think about a leaseback? Is leasing back such a "nice" airplane a dumb idea? Is the plane going to be truly "beat up" in that environment? If it pays for itself in that scenario, then perhaps its not so bad if the plane is beat up a bit. If its barely going to cover expenses in a typical scenario, plus additional costs related to small repairs that I wouldnt have if I were just me or just me and another DiamonShare member, then perhaps its not worth it. What experiences can you share with that scenario?

The plane insurance world seems all over the place from what I read. I was told to expect 4-6K a year for first time insurance for me as a brand new pilot, and another 2-3K if I name another member. I am not 100% sure what the insurance cost or liability looks like if I were to lease it back to a school.

I would of course plan to hangar the Da40 here locally. We are flying out of Smyrna TN so hopefully I could find a suitable hangar there to lease somewhat long term.

So those are the questions around "what should I get" and "how should I pay for it". Along that note, I dont think I would be comfortable paying for the entire plane myself without SOME kind of cost defray program. Does that mean I simply cant afford the plane, or is it extremely common to need these kind of arrangements to afford how expensive planes have become.

Third.. long term maintenance and upkeep. I understand the 40NG has a !800 hr TBO, correct? And the overhaul would be around $30k? Is that correct? I see complaints about after sales support for Diamond. What is the closest place to me in TN that can adequately perform both routine and overhaul service. Is the overhaul the only time I would have to get the plane somewhere that is hundreds of miles from me?

Ill stop there and get some dialogue. I'm sure more questions will come up. Thanks all!!
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Re: Do I know what I am getting into / Should I buy a Diamond?

Post by Johnrschaefer »

First, congratulations on your excellent decision to pursue a PPL together with your son, and best of luck to him with his upcoming solo experience!

Have you considered a previously owned DA40? Might be a quicker delivery, and a good way to reduce expense. I've owned a 2007 DA40XL for almost two years, with no regrets aside from regret that I didn't purchase sooner. I've set up a "club-like" lease arrangement to defray costs, and it's worked well. "Membership" is limited, and my leasing pilots are reasonably experienced, so the plane is not abused and insurance is not excessive. I did consider a leaseback, but was concerned that the plane would be beat-up, that availability might become an issue, and of course insurance would be higher.

Before my purchase, I looked into DiamondShare as a member, not an owner, and the monthly cost to join a nearly-new DA40NG DiamondShare is one factor that lead to my purchase - turns out I can own the 2007 XL for less than the DiamondShare monthly would have been. Of course, it's not a nearly brand new airplane, but it is a great fit for me. The plane is paid for with home equity, on a cash-out refi.
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Re: Do I know what I am getting into / Should I buy a Diamond?

Post by Chris »

Welcome to the forum!

I don't have any experience with DiamondShare or lease-back options, but I'm sure others can chime in. You can find some older posts on this site about the pros and cons of those as well.

I think a DA40 is an ideal plane to learn to fly in, and it can be used for much more than just a trainer. You may get many years of use and enjoyment out of it even after you are both done with training. It's way more fun than flying a C172, IMO, and just as safe.

If it were me in that position, and if the used aircraft market were "normal" these days, I woud be trying to find a well-maintained WAAS-enabled Lycoming DA40 XLS or XLT. Those would normally be available at somthing closer to 1/2 the price of a new NG, serviceable by pretty much any mechanic out there, likely cheaper to insure, and familiar to a lot more instructors. I have nothing against the NG, but they can be a bit more challenging to own if you don't have a Diamond Service Center nearby.

In today's market, though, it may not be possible to find such a plane, so ordering something new might be your best bet. Depending on how active the GA community is in your area, you might also be able to set up a partnership with one or two other members. I've found those to be a good way to offset costs without subjecting the plane to excessive "student-induced wear-and-tear" that a leaseback arrangement might incur.
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Re: Do I know what I am getting into / Should I buy a Diamond?

Post by Lou »

We have a fully equipped 2008 DA40xls, purchased in 2015. In terms of options two things I didn’t think much of at the time of purchase but which I have come to really appreciate are Sirius XM weather and TAWS. I also like having the Avidyne traffic. I don’t have a/c or a Stormscope, and would want to hear what others say about those.
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Re: Do I know what I am getting into / Should I buy a Diamond?

Post by Paul »

My 17 year old wants to learn how to fly and I have my own mission for a DA40. I basically did exactly what Chris suggested which is purchase a WAAS DA40 XLS. I learned how to fly in a DA40 and got my instrument and commercial in one. It is the perfect first plane. Magnificently forgiving, provides a real feel for the air you are flying in (unlike a Cirrus, which I also owned) and is surprisingly capable for a plane with zero ice protection. I thought about getting a new one, but I could not wait that long and the price of new is crazy considering it doesn't really offer anything more except NXi if you get the avgas version. Nothing wrong with buying new though and that's what I did with my first DA40.

Personally, I did not want a NG as a teaching plane. I think the IO360 version is more forgiving and thus safer. I have no real data to back this up though.

Owner flown DA40s are hard to come by but just in the past few months the market has changed from none available to a few available. I would not want to buy a high time flight school plane.

The options I cared about were WAAS/SVT, ADSB in and out, and XM. I live in Utah and so A/C is something I can live without. The Cirrus I had and the M600 I currently fly have Stormscopes. There is absolutely no need for one in a DA40, particularly if you live in the US.
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Re: Do I know what I am getting into / Should I buy a Diamond?

Post by Boatguy »

1. I think it’s an excellent plane for training and cross country. I got mine as soon as I finished my PPL and have now flown it about 500hrs, mostly on cross country flights. It’s an entirely different airplane than any Cessna or Cirrus. You and your son should get a demonstration flight in a DA40XLT, DA40NG, and SR20 before making a decision. I personally think the DA40 is the safest and most enjoyable first plane to fly and I think your son will see a significant difference compared with the C172. During my C172 training I flew a DA40 for a couple of hours and it was like driving a Porsche compared to the C172 which felt like my grandfather's 1949 Chevy pickup.

2. The DA40 is a fine plane for earning an instrument rating and XC flying. Also much easier to control for the Commercial rating maneuvers.

3. Austro engines are 1,800hrs to TBR and then about $50K. One of the Lycoming owners can comment on Lycoming TBO and cost. But be sure to forward price since the cost today won’t be the same in 4-5yrs.

There are some threads here which thrash the Lycoming vs Austro issue. I have an Austro and like that there is essentially no engine management in flight, starting is never an issue and it has far less vibration and noise. Living in the west the turbocharging is a big benefit as on longer flights I cruise at 10,000’ - 14,000’ and sometimes 16,000’. It may not be as big an issue for you in TN if you don’t plan on flying west. The TAS of the two is essentially the same, though the Lycomings tend to cruise lower and thus very slightly slower (not material).

4. Options

- GFC700
- GTX 345R
- Synthetic Vision
- Electric rudder pedal adjustment

Probably required in TN is air conditioning, but consider carefully as 88lbs is a big loss of useful load and permanent loss of climb performance.

Buy a set of JetShades direct from JetShades, irrespective of whether or not you get AC.

You don’t need TAWS in the U.S. as you’ll get traffic through ADSB and the GTX345R.

Using the 2023 DA40NG price list, that totals out to about $628K with air conditioning. I’d be interested in seeing how you got to $725K.

5. Leasing to flying school or club will definitely beat up your plane very quickly.

6. I created my own DiamondShare program and would be happy to share the documents with you. I did that for about two years and I know there are others here that are still doing it. It’s a good way to share the expense among a small group that you control and that will be much more conscientious about caring for the plane than renters in a club. There are FAA, liability and insurance issues so you need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. And you will be managing a business and operation which will require some of your time.

7. If you do leaseback or run your own share program, you might want to consider Piston Power to have more predictable expenses. Others here who have PP can comment.

8. I just renewed my insurance and at age 70, 600hrs, instrument rating, with hull value of $475K (probably low) I’m paying $3,800.

9. I have a DA62 on order that should be delivered by the end of the year and will be selling my 2019 NG with about 600hrs and no AC in roughly that time frame.

Good luck!
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Re: Do I know what I am getting into / Should I buy a Diamond?

Post by alanhawse »

In June last year I had 0 hours... and ordered a DA40NG from Lifestyle (all in 579K)

Then I started on 6/22 at the local flight school and did PPL and Instruments in a C172. (about 200 hours)

They delivered my 40 on March 14... since then I have about 50 hours in the 40.

I am 100% convinced that learning to fly in a slow C172 with steam gauges was the right thing. Im quite sure that my stick and rudder skills are way better.

I the C172 is great... like a first love. But give me a break. The DA40NG is on a totally different level... like a 1964 mustang versus a new 911 turbo.

I love my DA40ng ... very very remarkable airplane... my wife and son will be flying ... and I will be building up hours. I am planning on ordering a da62 when Im ready for something faster... but, when that happens I am not sure at all that I will sell the 40.

I believe that the 40ng is the best or one of the best GA airplane on the market. The austro engine is outstanding... all of the 100ll people are going to be hating life over the next years. And it is amazing how much it lowers the workload of the pilot.

The GFC700 is freaking awesome... it flys so much better than me... so so much... I think that this is a huge safety issue.

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Re: Do I know what I am getting into / Should I buy a Diamond?

Post by michael.g.miller »

Hi there,

Welcome to the world of aviation! Glad you and your son are enjoying it! It is a truly magical obsession that enables us to have awesome adventures. I have a DA42 (previously a Cirrus SR22) and have been flying for around 10 years, around half of it as an owner.

I can say a few things with pretty strong conviction:

- Do **NOT** buy a plane to save money. Renting is much cheaper than owning. You should absolutely buy a plane if you are frustrated with daily minimums, negotiating to take the plane for extended periods, not being able to store headsets and other accessories in it. It is much nicer to own. I've taken 2 roundtrip flights to Europe in my Cirrus. No way I could do that with a flight school plane. But owning will 100% cost you more than renting.

- Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt, do **NOT** lease your plane back to a flying school. It looks good on paper, until you see the wear and tear of primary students bouncing it in. Everything will get beat up, and you will spend a lot more on maintenance than you would owner flown. Think about you or your son's first landings in the plane. That's what your plane will be subjected to day in day out.

My recommendation, given your budget constraints, would be to rent to get you and your son's licenses. Then, find a partnership with like minded pilots to share the costs of a plane that will fit your mission (maybe this is a DA62 if you need the seats). This way, you can defray your costs, without subjecting yourself to the abuse of flight school lease back, while retaining most of the flexibility of being able to travel on a whim.

I would shy away from "structured" partnership programs, as the main important issue in a partnership is who you're paired with. Ideally, you'd find partners who would complement your schedule. If you fly during the weekend, someone who flies during the week for work. Or, if you fly 2x per month, find someone else who flies 2x per month and is flexible. It's really a marriage that involves compatible people and good communication. Hiring someone to orchestrate a marriage sounds like it would result in divorce! Do however, get good legal counsel to draft up a solid agreement for the partnership, detailing what happens if someone wants out.

Happy to answer any questions, or talk with you over the phone if that would be useful, just shoot me a message.
- Mike
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Re: Do I know what I am getting into / Should I buy a Diamond?

Post by Colin »

When I bought my first plane AOPA had done a bunch of research and showed that the break even point for owning vs. renting was 100 hours of flying a year. If you were flying more it would be cheaper to buy, if you were flying less it would be cheaper to rent. I don't know how they did all their math, but I used their report to convince my wife we needed to buy a plane.

There were a few planes on the field where I was learning that were not available to primary students. I took a flight in one with an instructor after I had my PPL. It was a totally beautiful Piper with a bunch of seemingly after-market switches on the glareshield. The instructor explained that it was owned by an airline pilot and only available for instrument students or people with instrument ratings who wanted something nicer for a longer trip (I think it might have been "block hours only" or something like that). I was getting a test flight to see if I was interested in buying it.
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Re: Do I know what I am getting into / Should I buy a Diamond?

Post by Rich »

When we first got our DA40 I had a partner in the sub-S corporation that we formed to own the plane. We had no conflicts, but in 2010 he found himself in some financial difficulty and sold out to me, so I became the sole owner of the corporation/plane. I dodged a bullet because the following year his wife divorced him. I shudder to think of the complications that could have ensued were he still a partner in the plane :scream: .

There was no way I would have put the plane on leaseback. But from 2002 until I moved down here to Oregon in 2015 I/we had a few individuals the plane was rented to that were named pilots on the insurance policy. I was very selective about these folks. All are instrument-rated and there was none of the constant pattern work a regular lease-back would involve. When I moved down here and became the sole pilot I dissolved the corporation, which sold the plane to me. I took the capital gains hit and life is much simpler.

Given the amount I fly, if I amortized my costs hourly, might be somewhat higher than if I were a renter. But in exchange I get to use the same plane every time, all the databases are kept current and all equipment kept operative.
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