Diamond DA40 the best Aircraft for safety?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by mrjones30, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. mrjones30

    mrjones30 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hello to all!

    I was talking to a CFI today and he wants me to go to his school. I asked him: "Why do you consider your school better than the rest?" He said: "We fly new Diamond DA40's these airplanes are the most reliable, safest airplane you can fly" (As you folks already know safety is one of my main concerns with starting to learn how to fly, that is the main reason why I'm reading the books first before taking the classes.) Is the instructor correct with that assesment?

    The instructor also said that "Cirrus aircraft fall out of the sky way more than any single engine aircraft on the market today" Is that also true?

    Thank you
     
  2. loudbagel

    loudbagel Pre-takeoff checklist

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    From what I have heard Diamond Aircraft are very safe aircraft, Cirrus are also great aircraft . You need to remember that most aircraft are safe , and the majority of accidents are caused by pilot error.

    Enjoy your training and fly safely!
     
  3. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    Diamond has a better safety record than cirrus by a long shot.

    They are two very different aircraft. The diamond is a good one for you to train with. The cirrus is not.
     
  4. 3 in the green

    3 in the green Line Up and Wait

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    Can of worms being opened here...

    Yes, the DA40 is safe although safety is primarily up to the pilot. That said, the engineering of the plane can also factor in, and the DA40 is right up there among the top. The airframe was stress tested and passed with ONE spar - however the aircraft has TWO main spars and can take g-loads higher than a human can maintain. Additionally, the fuel tanks are aluminum cells located between these two spars. While it makes for a funky way of checking the fuel tank level, the possibility of a post-impact fire (assuming a survivable impact) is almost nil which is something that cannot be said of the Cirrus, which has a wet wing. Look at the stats and how many Cirrus' catch on fire post-impact. The fuel tank is a very poor design from a safety standpoint - composite material cracks and the fuel leaks. In a Cessna which also has a wet wing, the material is aluminum which has a greater degree of flexibility when it comes to bending (ie. composite does not bend well although it's stronger than aluminum).

    Other highlights of the DA40 include a very slow stall speed, which is probably one of the largest factors in surviving - the Cirrus is a fine aircraft but is also faster and has higher stall speeds. The stall in a DA40 is almost non-existant. It's one of the hardest planes I've ever tried to stall. It just doesn't want to do it.

    The DA40 also has true 26g seats, (the Cirrus does as well but you can store stuff under them which sort of negates the point...) which is also a great safety feature.

    Really, the Cirrus is not a training aircraft - it's definitely a fine plane - I would take one - but personally I don't think it's engineered as well as the DA40 from a safety perspective.

    While there's no real 'blanket' statement of which plane can be safest since most accidents are the pilot's fault, if all else is equal you will be hard pressed to find a better engineered aircraft than the DA40. If you don't feel safe in that, you won't feel safe in anything else in it's class.
     
  5. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    It is true by some metrics, but the statistics of the accidents show that the proportion of pilot errors is disproportionately high in Cirrus. It suggests that pilots of Cirrus airplanes tend to be complacent about recurrent training. They rack up a lot of hours but do not know how to handle emergencies. I do think though that a common Cirrii driver knows way more about weather than I do. They often brush with squall lines and ice, because they travel on business. This also does them in often. Overall, I do not think that Cirrus is in any way unsafe, as an airplane.
     
  6. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    And yet, the proportion of fatal crashes among all crashes in Cirrus is less than, for example, in Bonanza V35. This one-side approach to safety always gets my panties in a wad. Sure, Diamond never burns - compared to Cirrus anyway. Is it making it any safer though? Absolutely not!
     
  7. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think it has more to do with the demographics of the people flying the plane than anything else. Diamond pilots are more typically in training, or at least are fairly fresh and current. You would by a Diamond if you want a modern four seater that has a reasonable load capacity and is efficient, i.e. you plan to fly it a lot. SR22s', like V35's used to be, are often the choice of aircraft for the wealthy, low time pilot with little time for flying (and sometimes maintenance upkeep), but that wants to have a fast plane available to him when he needs it.
     
  8. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    It's not the plane in my mind, it's the way they are used as you said. That wouldn't be a bad thing if the training was there, of course. We all talk a lot about that, but in a world of 10 day IFR courses can we really be amazed that people get themselves into trouble? How much real world experience does a new IFR rated Cirrus owner have in squall lines, ice, etc. probably none. Specific training as part of PPL/IFR, also probably none. S/He does have this marketing from Cirrus:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_unp6aIHk98

    To a new pilot this says, with this airplane you have a personal airliner, go for it.
     
  9. 3 in the green

    3 in the green Line Up and Wait

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    We're not discussing the Bo...?

    It's not a one-side approach, it's simple engineering. How would it not be making it safer? All other things/pilots equal, of course a more robust fuel tank design makes it safer (as in safer to crash in). Less propensity to burn after impact, the stats confirm this. Are you saying that a wet composite wing is just as safe as a alum cell between two spars? It's simple logic. The cell between two spars is safer than a wet wing. I don't know how this can be argued against.
     
  10. mrjones30

    mrjones30 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Agreed! due to the fact that I am a newbie, I'm automatically thinking: This new technology is great I can fly in the winter without any issues, the plane does it all! I have just recently started learning about Airplanes from this great forum and so far I have learned: "If something sounds too good to be true it probably is" Flying in bad weather as a beginner is a no no :nono: and I will abide by that.
     
  11. 3 in the green

    3 in the green Line Up and Wait

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    This I agree with 100%. I like the Cirrus, I just think the fuel tank design is inferior to the Diamond's and if I were to pick one to crash in, even if stall speeds were the same, I'd rather crash in the Diamond before the Cirrus any day.

    Cirrus is a fine aircraft though, no reason to avoid flying one as long as you operate it safely (like anything else).
     
  12. gprellwitz

    gprellwitz Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You're focusing on one aspect of safety talking about the double spar. Yes, it has some definite structural and safety benefits and I agree that it greatly reduces the chance of a post-crash fire. One could also make the argument that for some situations the Cirrus is safer because of the BRS (Ballistic Recovery System, or whole airplane parachute).

    I would argue that for almost ANY airplane, the most unsafe portion is the pilot at the controls, and adequate, recurrent training is the best way to maximize the overall safety.
     
  13. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    I know it can be expensive, but I wish more new pilots would pick a day that scared them weather wise and go out and fly with their instructor (within reason of course). If you plan to do any form of traveling and you're not fully retired, then you will end up flying through weather at some point. Why not take a couple of hours where you're not trying to earn some ticket and just focus on weather, real IFR decisions, using whatever tools you have, dealing with strong winds, turbulence, etc.? Dipping your foot in that pool will help a lot when your passengers look at you with stark terror and sense you've seen this before, and it worked out fine.

    Calm seas don't make the sailor.
     
  14. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    I'm surprised that nobody brought up how U.S. Air Force is retiring their DA-40 fleet and replacing them with Cirrus in their academy in Pueblo, Colorado. Note that USAF is the safest Air arm of any armed force in the world, by far. The link with the flying that we are doing in civilian aviation is rather tenous, but it suggests that airplane itself is not a flying coffin.
     
  15. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Or that the DA-40 is a dog at this altitude... :)
     
  16. gprellwitz

    gprellwitz Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Thereby implying that a DA-40 might not be the safest airplane for a high-altitude flight in mountainous terrain? I think that reinforces the point that the definition of "safety" is dependent upon the particular circumstances, and that the greatest safety feature is a pilot who can make appropriate decisions based on the particular circumstances. And, from what I've read from the OP, he is interested in doing just that.:yesnod:
     
  17. 3 in the green

    3 in the green Line Up and Wait

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    Truer words have never been spoken. Well said.
     
  18. Jaybird180

    Jaybird180 Final Approach

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    You can say that again.
    This is where we differ. I did't find the DA40 difficult to stall at all. It was the first airplane I'd flown after my checkride other than the 172P that I trained in and I had no problem stalling it whatsoever.

    In fact, I found it wants to wag it's tail L-R during power on stalls and if the pilot has the nasty habit of using the aeilerons (instead of rudder) during power on stalls, watch out:hairraise:

    The pilot will have 1 additional control to learn in the Diamond and that's the blue knob. The cirrus is mechanically tied to the throttle position and therefore does not have a blue knob (not sure I follow the logic on that one, but that's another discussion).
     
  19. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    Blatantly false.

    The January 2012 issue of "The Aviation Consumer" has an article "Cirrus Safety" in which they report their findings about the safety of those airplanes. If you don't wish to spend the money on reading the details, they summarized their findings thusly:

    • "~ Cirrus accident rate is better than the GA average, but middle of the pack for peers."
    • "+ CAPS works when optimally deployed, but less impressive in marginal cases."
    • "- Nearly half of Cirrus fatals might have been prevented by CAPS deployments that pilots didn't perform."
     
  20. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    That is what they call when rejecting false advertising suits "commercial puffery." See here for more on that.

    Hardly, but not so far off base that it matters. One could say much the same about any of the latest generation of well-equipped light aircraft such as the Cirrus SR-series or the Cessna 350/400 line and not run afoul of false advertising laws.

    Fall out of the sky? No, that is not true. The Cirrus is a highly reliable aircraft with more advanced safety features than the DA-40. However, if you examine the Cirrus accidents, you'll see the vast majority involve really bad decisions or very weak skills. It is my observation that the Cirrus, by its nature and the marketing of its producers, has an apparent tendency to attract pilots who, in retrospect, appear unwise and inadequately risk-averse. Since the overwhelmingly largest single factor in the safety of any modern light aircraft is the pilot, I would suggest that if safety is a major concern for you, the issue about which you should be most concerned is the quality of that school's training, not the particular type of aircraft they fly.

    IOW, I can train you to be safer in a beat-up old Cessna 172 than some instructors or schools out there can do in the most modern airplane with the "best" safety record. So don't sweat the differences between a Diamond and a Cirrus for training -- they're both fine, well-equipped aircraft in which you can be trained equally safely. How safely? That depends not on the airplane, but on who's doing the training.
     
  21. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    Only a few. The Safety Director of the Cirrus owner's group once told me that 80% of the Cirrus accidents involve the 20% of Cirrus pilots who don't get formal recurrent training in type. And my experience is that if 80% of Cirrus pilots are getting recurrent training, that's a far higher percentage of their community than most types, which reflects well on the Cirrus community as a whole. It's just that small bunch of knuckleheads who are the problem, and they are a problem in all the type groups, just in larger numbers, I think.
     
  22. Old Geek

    Old Geek Pattern Altitude

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    I always prefer a high wing to a low wing, safetywise. The ability to get my ass and my passenger's ass out of the plane if it ends up on it's back is a big deal to me.
     
  23. mrjones30

    mrjones30 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thank you Ron, great advice.

    I researched online all of the flying schools in my area and all of the reviews are hit or miss from beginner pilots, there isn't one that just stands out of the crowd down here. How can I tell if the CFI is good or not? By the number of hours flown? How many planes he or she has flown?
     
  24. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    By interviewing him/her, just like you would anyone else you're going to hire to do a job. You're looking for experience, education, qualifications, references (and you follow up on those!), dedication, and commitment to training as a profession. Gray hair is always a good sign -- it's usually a good sign of life experience, which is usually a good thing for a teacher. :D What you don't want is someone who's there just to build time for an airline job.
     
  25. TMetzinger

    TMetzinger Final Approach

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    Fixed that for you. Don't be scared if a CFI says he wants to go to the airlines. Be scared if he gives you the impression that going to the airlines is ALL he cares about, or it's a higher priority than giving you good flight instruction for your dollar.

    I've been taught by folks who planned to go to the airlines, but they never let the fact that they didn't want to be CFIs for the rest of their lives prevent them from being very good CFIs while they were doing that job.

    So pay particular attention to the character of the people you interview.
     
  26. KSCessnaDriver

    KSCessnaDriver Pattern Altitude

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    Really? I had no problems in Colorado Springs on a 75 degree day a few summers ago. And I was loaded to 85% of gross weight.

    I routinely flew them at 10-11K feet for cross country flying. Speed wise they are best down at about 8,000, but the fuel burns made 10-11 a much better place to hangout. Plus its always cool in the summer time.
     
  27. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Was just throwing out a possibility. Depends a lot on their desired missions and flight profiles for their training flights.

    Whoever can truly figure out the whims of the USAF procurement process (or how to get them to purchase your product over another) would probably be a rich man. At least until they changed their minds again. ;)
     
  28. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    A possibility exists that Diamond thought that the replacement contract was in the bag, because of the existing fleet, and became complacent: did not address the evolving needs of the customer, padded the margins a hair too much... It's like how Boeing thoght that they'd win JSF because Lockmart already had F-22.
     
  29. Datadriver

    Datadriver Line Up and Wait

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    Absolutely. They also are much more prone to post crash fires than the diamondstar. I have 30 hrs in SR 22s and enjoyed them, but I paid through the nose for insurance.

    The insurance companies are the ones with true skin in the game, and the rates on diamondstars are far lower than Cirrus.
     
  30. Datadriver

    Datadriver Line Up and Wait

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    Maybe they thought they were buying American, and only later realized they were buying Chinese :dunno:
     
  31. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter PoA Supporter

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    Some of their other choices of training aircraft haven't worked out so well.

    http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=002opt

    That's not to imply anything about the Cirrus, though.
     
  32. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Ron posted that in a thread I made questioning the safety of the airplane. It's probably the most spot-on description of the plane and its pilots I've ever seen.

    It's a fair plane that is marketed very well with some glaring safety issues. I recall the Cirrus that crashed in Scottsdale if their hadnt been a fire he (the pilot ) would have survived. The passenger got out before the plane blew up. The fuel tanks were designed by an Orangutan (That's mean, I shouldn't insult Orangutans in such a manner) and the incidence of a post crash fire is frighteningly high.
     
  33. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    You have any supporting numbers?
     
  34. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach PoA Supporter

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  35. peppy

    peppy Line Up and Wait

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    There has been one post crash fire death in a Cirrus. There was recently a Cessna crash in Georgia where at least one person burned to death.

    While I prefer the design of the Diamond tanks, the Cirrus is not the only wet wing aircraft. Structurally, the plane is very strong.

    As for the reasons for the accident profile, that profile is similar to other trip planes i.e. A36 and similar. Right now Flightaware shows only one DA40 in the system and one DA42. There are 15 SR22's, 8 BE36, and 3 BE35's. Gee, maybe that has something to do with things. People don't buy an SR22 to do pattern work. In some cases maybe they should have. I have looked at pretty much every Cirrus accident and what I see is the same old stuff that has been killing pilots for decades. People didn't blame the Saratoga when Kennedy killed himself.
     
  36. mrjones30

    mrjones30 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Excuse my ignorance,

    But what stuff has been killing Pilots for decades?
     
  37. Alexb2000

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    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  38. gprellwitz

    gprellwitz Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think the best way to answer that question quickly is to point you to the Nall Report. But think of things like VFR into IMC, low level maneuvering, "hey, watch this," get-there-itis, etc.
     
  39. peppy

    peppy Line Up and Wait

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    Grant got it correct. A VFR pilot who is a real estate guy takes off in 800' ceilings to go look at some property from the air. A VFR only pilot is taking 2 daughters and one daughter's boyfriend back to college. Conditions deteriorate faster than predicted and he doesn't turn around. I also (personal opinion) suspect he wasn't comfortable with the autopilot. It was a club plane. A guy takes off toward a mountain in an SR20 and pitches up to where the nose obscures the view out of the plane. He flies into the mountain on a clear day. A pilot heads down a canyon and when he gets to the end finds it too narrow to make the turn. An uncoordinated base to final turn and a stall combine to flip the plane over into the ground. Flight into icing. A doctor ends a long work day and flies to pick up his son. He takes off very late and on a runway with no DP. He flies into a mountain. A high time pilot calls family to tell them he will be flying over the house and to come outside and look. He does a loop and smacks into the ground.

    Hopefully you get the idea. A good read is "The Killing Zone - How and Why Pilots Die."
     
  40. peppy

    peppy Line Up and Wait

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