Diamond DA62 Review – A Pilot’s Perspective on the New Light Twin

by HPA · April 10, 2016

Diamond DA62 Review

A Pilot’s Perspective on the New Airplane

Gentry Shelton, Commercial Pilot, CFI, CFII, MEI

Just recently I was given the opportunity to take a demo flight in Diamond’s new twin engine DA62 aircraft, and the one word that keeps going through my mind is ‘simple’. As you will read in more detail in the following review, the aircraft was very simple to fly. So much so, that at times I was wondering what I had forgotten to do, such as setting the fuel mixture or propeller control. But these are items that could be disappearing from checklists for new aircraft, especially if Diamond has any say in the matter. For this review, I’m going to focus on the experience of flying the DA62 rather than the specs of the aircraft as you can find them on Diamond’s website through the following link: http://www.diamond-air.at/twin-engine-aircraft/da62.html.

Before we get started, let me talk a little about my multi-engine time. I’ve flown a few hours in a Beech Duchess and a Piper Seminole, but the majority of my twin time is in a Piper Twin Comanche. Both my multi-engine commercial and instructor ratings and all of the multi-engine students I’ve trained have been in the Twin Comanche. Now that you have an idea of the past experiences I’ll be comparing this flight to, let’s get on to the demo flight.Diamond DA62 Review

Diamond DA62 Interior

To start with let’s look at the trickiest part of most flights, getting into the aircraft. Diamond seems to be one step ahead of other aircraft manufacturers, in that they have included some features to help with the ingress process. First, there is a back door, which makes it much easier for the passengers to enter the middle and back seating areas. This is a nice change from my twin Comanche days of opening my door, leaning my seat forward, and doing the wing shuffle to allow the passengers in.

Moving to the next feature, for the pilot and co-pilot seats there are two hand holds to help you lower yourself into the airplane. This is similar to the DA40 design, but instead of the hand holds being molded into the dash, they are molded into the composite frame. Another improvement that helps with the ease of ingress is that the front portions of the pilot and co-pilot seats fold up. So, for those NBA stars that wear size 17 shoes and are looking for a personal light twin, this is your airplane. All kidding aside though, it is a nice feature. All of these features also make getting out of the airplane easier as well. So, after you taxi in, shut down, and egress the aircraft, you won’t destroy the Chuck Yeager persona you’re going for by stumbling and bumbling out of the airplane. While getting into the airplane takes a little more skill than getting into a car, the folks at Diamond have gone to great lengths to make the process easier.
Diamond DA62 Review Diamond DA62 Review Diamond DA62 Review

Diamond DA62 Flight Controls

Another thing you’ll notice as you step into the aircraft is the stick, and just as with other Diamond aircraft, the stick is centered just in front of the pilot and co-pilot seats. The stick gives a more natural feel to flying, but that is a personal opinion. If you prefer a stick over a yoke, you won’t be disappointed. The stick design is simple, with the pilot having an auto pilot disconnect button, electric trim control, push to talk switch, and a control wheel steering (CWS) button. For those like me who find the electric trim on the Cessna yokes a little sticky, you can be relieved in knowing that the electric trim tabs on the stick are easier to push up and down. It did seem just a little slow in giving me the trim I was requesting, but this ended up not being a big deal as the stick forces are light in this airplane.

Diamond DA62 Review

Diamond DA62 Review

Austro Engines – Diesel Power

After gracefully entering the airplane and fastening the belts, it was time to fire up the engines. As I was mentally preparing for the demo pilot to open the checklist, he had me turn on the master engine switch. Then he directed me to push a button in front of me for a few seconds. Next thing I knew the engine was running. Wait, what? Yes, that was it. One switch and one push of a button and the engine was running smoothly. It was literally as easy as starting my car. Similarly, the right engine started just as easily. Now, the engines do have glow plugs in case it’s the first flight of the day and the engines are cold. So, there could potentially be a small wait time for the glow plugs to do their thing, but I was astonished with the ease of starting the engines; especially coming from a twin Comanche where each engine was different and had its own special start procedure (closing one eye, opening the throttle, leaning the mixture, and hoping beyond all belief that it’ll start when hot).

Diamond DA62 Review

Quiet Cockpit

After the engines were running, the next thing I noticed made me pause; it was the demo pilot talking to me. Now it wasn’t him that was startling, it was the fact that I could hear him so clearly even without my headset on. To say the least, the airplane is very well insulated from the noise of the engines. Granted, the engines were idling, but the lack of noise was so substantial that it caught my attention almost immediately after the engines were running. While I’m not sure how quiet it is without wearing a headset on takeoff (maybe I’ll try it next time and see), it is excellent on the ground.

Electronic Engine Controls

Another process the DA62 has simplified is the engine run up. In similar fashion to starting the engines, the run up consists of flipping a switch and holding a button for a few seconds. The switch tests to make sure that both of the computers controlling the engine are operating correctly. When switching to the backup computer, a slight momentary stutter in the engine serves as a physical indication letting the pilot know that the engine has switched from running on the main computer to the backup computer. This stutter would not normally happen when the system switches from the main computer to the backup computer, but the designers decided to program it into the software to alert the pilot. For the rest of the engine check, the throttles are left at idle, and then the run up button is pressed and held for a few seconds. During this time, the engine is throttling up on its own, checking the magnetos, and feathering the props; which is confirmed by the successive rise and fall in the rpm. After the engine self-checks everything, the G1000 screens are checked to make sure all the annunciations have cleared and the run up button is released. The other engine is then checked in the same manner. Again, the process has been simplified.

Diamond DA62 ReviewFlying the Diamond DA62

Enough of being on the ground, let’s get to the flying part. Taking off was a breeze, even though it was very breezy that day (wind was about 19 knots gusting to about 32 knots). It was a little bumpy getting into the air and climbing, but what can you expect on a warm afternoon near Houston. As far as flying the airplane goes, it feels great. The stick forces are light, and the airplane has a good response to the control inputs. Steep turns were fun; and the slow flight characteristics were just as expected – a little mushy but responsive. The stall characteristics of the DA62 are nice also. Our setup for the stall was throttles to idle, flaps to take off, and gear down. Pulling the stick back led to the expected slight buffeting of the airplane, signaling the onset of the stall. As we pulled the stick all the way aft to the stop, the nose of the airplane remained above the horizon and the aircraft just mushed down in a stalled condition. I didn’t take note of the descent rate, but I can say that the stall was very docile. So overall, the flight characteristics are solid.

Single-Engine Procedures

After the normal operations air work, the demo pilot shut down the critical engine (the DA62 does not have counter-rotating propellers). For the engine shutdown, all that was required was to turn off the left engine master switch. As the engine shut down, the propeller auto feathered; so, gone are the days of ‘identify, verify, and feather’. To say the least, the airplane handled very well during single engine operations. We turned away from and into the dead engine with no problems. We then pitched the nose up a bit, and it had no problem maintaining a climb. The engine re-start was a piece of cake, and was accomplished by simply turning on the engine master switch and pressing the start button.

Mixtures, Props, Throttles… A thing of the past

With the single engine demo complete, we turned back for the airport (KCXO) when I realized something. The engines were in sync, and I hadn’t done anything the whole flight to sync them up! The engine controls consist of just the throttles, so there are no propeller controls to constantly tweak during the flight to keep the engines from producing that pulsating noise. Needless to say, the FADEC engine controls are another feature that makes the DA62 simple to fly.

Landing the DA62

With the flight almost concluded, we arrived at our 2 mile right base for runway 32 and lowered the gear and flaps. On final the flaps were fully lowered and I aimed for 85 knots on the airspeed. Now, remember that the wind was about 19 knots and gusting to 32 knots (you can verify that by looking at the wind sock in the picture below); so let’s just say that the round out for landing was a little squirrelly. But with the wind conditions and my lack of DA62 flight time being what they were, the airplane outdid itself again as I barely felt the mains touch down. The landing gear is that well designed. In a Cessna 182 or Piper Cherokee 180 the landing would have been fine, but the touch down would have been a little firm. Kudos to the engineers at Diamond for designing the gear in such a way that allowed me to walk away from the flight feeling good about the only landing I had a shot at.

The taxi in and shut down were both uneventful; fuel pumps off, avionics master off, and engine master switches off. That’s it; again, simple right? So, overall the flight was great; I don’t think it could have been better.

Conclusion

Hands down it is the best general aviation light twin that I have ever flown.

So, that in a nut shell is the review of my demo flight of the Diamond DA-62. Hands down it is the best general aviation light twin that I have ever flown. Just as cars have gone from standard to automatic transmissions, planes are becoming simpler to fly, thanks to innovative design and engineering by the folks at Diamond. A big thank you to Terry McGee and our demo pilot for taking me up in the airplane; it was a great experience!

Diamond DA62 Review

How it Started

One of my best friends in high school, (Doug Gray) was a private pilot. He offered to take me up for a flight in a 1967 Cessna 150, N6228S. We took off from Calhoun, Georgia, and he took me on a scenic tour of the area, I was hooked. I later found out that my English teacher, (Jan Haluska) was also a flight instructor and the school was offering a ground school course the next year, which he taught, along with flight training with the goal of becoming a private pilot. I managed to talk my dad into funding the training, at the time the total cost was right around $500. Cessna 150 rental rates where $12 an hour, and the 172 we used for cross country was $15 an hour including fuel.

Training Begins

It started August of 1977. The fall semester rolls around, and I am enrolled in ground school, and if memory serves me, we met twice a week. First came the paperwork for my student pilot certificate, which at the time was included with the 3rd class medical. I loved ground school, especially learning navigation, plotting courses on the sectional, again this was before iPads and GPS, so we did a lot of dead reckoning and VOR navigation for cross countries. At the end of the course, I made an 83% on the Private Pilot written exam, remember this was before we had the question-and-answer books that on future test I would consume before taking a written.

2022.06.09 11.19 Flyhpa 62a27fea7716a

Flying

The fun really began on August 22, 1977, it was my first flight. To my surprise we used the same Cessna 150, N6228S that my friend Doug Gray had taken me for a ride in. The Cessna 150 had a standard VFR instrument panel, with one NAV/COM, and one VOR CDI. No intercom, so no headset, at the time I didn’t know what I was missing. I didn’t get my first headset until I started my instrument training in 2003. I was a big guy, I was 6’ 4” and weighed 245 lbs. but I do not remember being uncomfortable in the 150 even with the instructor in the right seat.

First flight lasted .8 hours, and we accomplished orentation, shallow turns, stability, and effects of flight controls. Over the next few months we added steep 720’s, slow flight, stalls, turns around a point, S-turns, emergencies, landings, (short field, soft field and normal).

Learning

At this point I want to talk about a training experience that still stands out. We were close to solo and were practicing takeoffs and landings. Turning base to final Jan got very upset at the way I was cross controlling the aircraft. Cross control is when you are in, say a left turn, and use opposite rudder to line the nose up with the runway. So, he had me depart the pattern and head east to the practice area, and climbing up to 5500 feet MSL, he had me slow down to just above stalling speed, start a left shallow turn and add right rudder. As the airplane stalled I had the strangest sensation, no roller coaster has ever come close, instead of blue sky in the windscreen I was looking at brown ground, and as far as I could tell we were upside down, through the terror of the moment Jan talked me out of the spin, controls neutral, oposite rudder, pull slowly out of the dive. As we leveled off he asked me what altitude we were at, as I remember it was around 2,800 feet MSL. Then he asked me what would happen if I experenced this on base to final in the traffic pattern. The answer was obvious, I would be a pile of wreckage off the end of the runway with a very short-lived aviation career. Needless to say this cured my cross-control tendencies.

Another training event the sticks out in my mind was the first time we did takeoffs and landings at the High School runway. The runway was 1,500 feet long, not sure of the width, but it seems like we had about 5 feet on each side of the wheels when on the center line of the runway. Landing from the south you also had to go between a cutout in the trees to be able to stop in time on the runway. After getting confortable landing here every runway since seemed huge. I remember landing at Chattanooga (KCHA) on a night cross country and commenting to Jan, that I felt like I could of landed sideways on the runway, it felt that large.

Very soon after this I started wearing old shirts to all my flight lessons, the reason for this occurred on February 8, 1978. The lesson that day was stalls, takeoffs and Landing. As we were taxing back in Jan told me it was time for my first solo. I was very excited, and after some last minute advice from Jan, including watch for floating on landing the plane will be light with him not in the right seat, complete 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop. It was a blast, and at the end of my shirt was shorter in the back because Jan cut the tail out of it signed and dated my solo [an aviation tradition]. Total flight time accumulated on the day of my solo was 18.1 hours. I was now officially a pilot with solo priveleges.

In my next article I start cross country training, when Jan decided that it would be best accomplished this in the 172. Checking out in N5970R was like moving into a 747, this started a love affair with one of my faviriote planes to date. Since this time I have flown over 900 hours in many different models of the 172 and feel like I am stepping into an old friend every time.

More about Randy here: https://www.flyhpa.com/team/randy-delong/

 

Would you like more information?

Send us a message below.

14 + 1 =

Comments