GA Airplane question: Good All-around airplane

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Gort01, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Care to elaborate? :dunno:

    I'm not going to go nuts - Some people just don't like 'em. If you happen to be exceptionally wide in the butt, it's probably not gonna be comfortable. Beats the hell out of a PA28, though... I get a backache in those after about 1.5.

    I flew WI to TX and back in the DA40 already, and was pretty impressed. It did start getting a wee bit uncomfortable for me on REALLY long legs, but as long as I got out every 3 hours or so I was fine. Someone who's not as big as me would have a much easier time of it - Less weight on the seat, and someone who's not so tall could put something from Oregon Aero down (I'd be hitting my head on the canopy if I did that).

    There are certainly some "quirks" in the design, but none that I would consider negative overall. For example, the way you check the fuel level on preflight is weird, but it's that way because of the long, skinny aluminum tanks that are contained between dual main wing spars - And they are that way to make the airplane as safe as possible (note that Cirri tend to burn upon crashing - Diamonds just don't). So I'm okay with that. The non-movable seats and movable rudder pedals, likewise, are a design choice - That's what allows the center stick and ergonomic cockpit layout. I *really* like the stick, and the flight characteristics, it's a delightful plane to fly. So I'm OK with having to move the pedals.

    So, two questions - What do you consider "more amateur" about them, and what are the design quirks that you think make them suck?
     
  2. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    1. That Bo you fit in must have been mine, Kent - I have it on video and your head is not bumping the cabin roof...

    2. Same thing happened to me in the RFC Cardinal - great plane, but seat all the way down, my headset was pivoting on the roof; very uncomfortable unless I reclined the seat a bit, not optimal either.

    3. I happen to think the Diamonds are among the best thought-out aircraft in production today - I consider the DA40 to be vastly superior in most respects to the SR20, and I have a reasonable regard for those.
     
  3. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Bingo. Yours was perfect. Loved it. Thanks! :thumbsup:
     
  4. Diana

    Diana Final Approach

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    It seemed like the pilot didn't have any qualms about landing on grass or keeping it at a grass runway. It felt like a very sturdy airplane. :yes:

    Here is that original photo plus another one I took of it parked at Bayou La Batre.
     

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  5. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    More horsepower is the answer to getting more off the ground quicker, it's not the best answer to going faster, higher though. The answer there is Turbo Charger. Carry your horsepower to altitude... You have to be careful though of Vne issues up high.
     
  6. Gary F

    Gary F Final Approach

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    Well I asked for it. I still don't really understand why you have such a negative perception of the DA40.

    The fixed front seats are an advantage in my opinion, probably more crash worthy and will not slide backwards on takeoff. I always thought the Cessna adjustable seats were a PITA. I think it is much easier to load the rear seats with a separate rear door. It's a little tricky to get in and out of the front seats at first but not a real issue unless you have an elderly passenger but that is true for many airplanes. I love the stick but admit that it can be harder to use a larger kneeboard or large paper charts. I have not had any W&B issues as my useful load is 934 lbs and full fuel payload is 694 lbs with fairly generous CG limits. The newer DA40s with long range (50 gal tanks) have a lower useful load and narrower CG range so you have a point there.

    I really don't understand what you mean by European or reactionary mindset. The design is a significant departure from the usual decades old spam can but I don't see why this is a bad thing. It has a longer wingspan so I decided to rent a wide hangar usually used by twins, no big deal.

    The DA40 was not really designed as a cross country machine but my passengers and I have not found it to be uncomfortable, sheepskin seat covers help. It is a joy to fly and has a spectacular view. It's not quite as fast as a Cirrus SR20 but the maintenance costs are probably a lot lower and I think it is a much safer airplane. I love my DA40.
     
  7. elmetal

    elmetal Pre-takeoff checklist

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    as far as that comparison goes: Diamond started in 1991.
    You'll be hard pressed to find many 182 or 172 that are newer than 1991 that are not rentals.

    I think the comparison is much closer than you think when you put that into perspective.
     
  8. elmetal

    elmetal Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I disagree with the last part. but you make a good point, it's definitely a little high priced for its mission.

    I think the fact that it's a stick instantly takes away from its XC missions. I LOVE flying stick I really do, but on a XC I'm glad I can just sit back and touch the yoke a little here or there.


    I would get a diamond for having fun. Flying low, maneuvering, doing fun stuff, not for XC

    But it's still a great aircraft
     
  9. elmetal

    elmetal Pre-takeoff checklist

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    when they burn, they BURN


    and its lovely spin recovery characteristics. (or lack thereof)

    in the hands of a decently talented pilot it's not that dangerous. in the hands of a once in a while dr type, it's a killer
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
  10. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A little more thread hijacking here...

    Having never flown a stick, I have to wonder why would a stick be harder for XC? If the airplane is trimmed does it really matter if there is a stick or a yoke? Plus can't you nudge a stick with your knee?
     
  11. elmetal

    elmetal Pre-takeoff checklist

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    the stick is always between your legs. you can't move much around as far as how you're sitting. sometimes I like to cross my legs and a few other things that the stick just kinda gets in the way.


    This (along with money of course) is why I don't own an aircraft, I just can't pick the perfect machine.

    But it's 99% money
     
  12. weilke

    weilke Final Approach

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    Once the plane is on AP, what difference does it really make ?

    There are very few DA40 without autopilots on the market. Really only the trainer variants sold on goverment or fleet training contracts. Who flies with full-size maps these days anyway ?
     
  13. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I do (or rather I will once I get back in the air - taking care of eldering parents prevented me from flying the past 12 months)
     
  14. zaitcev

    zaitcev Pattern Altitude

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    LOL OWT
     
  15. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Disagree - The reason they're "expensive" is that they didn't start making 'em until 2001. Compare it to a 172 of the same vintage and airframe time, and I think they'll compare favorably.

    The problem is getting two that are the same vintage and airframe time - The 172's tend to be trainers and are already worn out. One of the most worn-out airplanes I've ever flown was a 172SP!

    I don't understand what the difference is? You can do the same thing with a stick. I've had the DA40 from Madison, WI to Houston, TX and back and didn't think anything of it being a stick vs. a yoke. :confused: I flew it like I fly the 182 on a long XC - Flight plan in the GPS, take off, hit the autopilot and enjoy the view.

    One of the things I really like about the DA40 is that it's great for BOTH. It's really fun to fly and the view is spectacular, but it's also good for hopping in, punching the autopilot, and getting you places reasonably fast.
     
  16. PilotAlan

    PilotAlan Pattern Altitude

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    On the topic of Navions, I've looked very closely at them.
    I love them as well designed, rugged, classic birds. Like a Tiger, if I lived on the east or west coasts, I would buy one in a second.

    Out here in Colorado, where there's nothing nearby and any cross country trip is 500 miles up to 1000 miles, my mission requires speed. Hence, Bonanzas, 182RGs, etc are the planes I am looking at.
    The up-engined Navions are 150-160mph (130-140kt) airplanes (and burn LOTS of fuel to get there). I need something in the 150-175kt area.

    But again, on the East Coast where 300 miles will take you to lots of different places, a Navion would be on my very short list.
     
  17. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    After reading your whole post, it looks like you're trying pretty hard to hate it for some reason. :dunno:

    That's not why the seats are fixed. The seats are fixed because the stick goes through the seat, F/A-18 Hornet style. (I dunno if the Hornet seats move or not, but for $millions per copy and jet power, they can afford the extra cost, weight and complexity of doing so.)

    What does utility have to do with moving seats around? :dunno:

    Huh? The DA40 was never used by any air-taxi operations, to my knowledge. Those that were using newer singles were using the SR22, and that's because it goes fast and carries more - It's in a different class. They're not using SR20's either. Has nothing to do with the Diamond design.

    Reactionary mindset? :dunno: The glider-like aspects of the DA40 are mostly excellent characteristics, IMO - The high aspect ratio wing gives it both great efficiency and an excellent glide ratio, which is a good thing to have in a single IMO. Hell, I'm going to get MORE utility out of it because of that - I'll be able to cross Lake Michigan in some spots and remain within gliding distance of shore for the entire crossing. That's going to greatly increase its utility for me.

    Huh? Existing wing design? The DA40 uses a different wing than any of their other stuff. It has some glider-like characteristics, but it is not an "existing wing design".

    Also - There is no front door - It's a canopy, which allows for pax to get in from both sides, makes it easier to get into, and also allows for EXCELLENT visibility. And I kind of like the step being on the front instead of behind the wing - I can get directly into the plane rather than grabbing a handle and walking up the narrow wing-walk, then trying to squeeze and contort myself in through the door while trying not to place too much weight on the seat back like I have to do in a "normal" low wing. With the Diamond, it's open the canopy, left foot on the step, right foot on the wing, left foot on the cockpit floor, right foot in and sit down. Easiest low wing to get into, IME.

    See, this is what makes me think that you're trying too hard to hate the DA40. Most single-engine 4-seat airplanes have a single front door, or two front doors, and a baggage compartment door. If you put adults in the back seat, how do you think they feel about moving a seat forward and climbing in? I haven't done that since I was a kid and rode in the back seat of my dad's Nissan. Do you carry adults in the back seat of a 2-door car?

    Rather than having a baggage compartment door, Diamond made the rear door so that it can be used for both people AND bags. It's easier to get into the back seat, and at 6'4" I actually fit in the back seat of the Diamond!

    Hmmm. It's actually the sturdiest plane I fly. Very solidly built. :dunno:

    Funny, automakers *advertise* "European styling" as a positive thing. Do you have something against Europe? :dunno:

    They go places well, they're very efficient, they have the most roomy, flexible baggage compartment of any 4-seat single, you can get directly into 3 of the 4 seats without having to slide across anything or move anything...

    They do a LOT of jobs very well. Since we picked up the DA40, I've only flown the 182 once and that was because I had to carry somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 pounds of people. Every other mission I've had, it has done very well. I wouldn't take it into the Idaho backcountry, and it won't carry what the 182 can, but the 182 is a different class of airplane. Compared to every other currently-produced fixed-gear 180hp single - That is, other airplanes in its class - It compares VERY favorably, which is why we bought one.

    Price point is only a problem because you can't buy a 1978 DA40.

    The DA40 has more room for golf clubs than any other plane in its class.

    Okay, that guy was flying across a lot of territory where there were no airports. Haven't you ever heard of putting ferry tanks in other airplanes? It's not like he wouldn't have had to add tanks to any other airplane to do the exact same job. :dunno:

    The DA40 is also not an "average performer." Again, you need to compare it to airplanes in its class - It's not an SR22 or a Bonanza. Neither is a 172. But when you compare it with other planes in its class, it's faster, more efficient, carries more (compared to other NEW airplanes - A 1970's Archer carries way more than a new one does), climbs faster, yadda yadda yadda - It outperforms other fixed-gear 180hp singles, and by a lot in many cases.

    There's a reason for that.

    Every airplane has inherent shortcomings, and every airplane is designed in a way that attempts to mitigate them. That's why there's no such thing as a "perfect" airplane. Some come closer than others, and the DA40 is as close to perfect as I think you can get in a fixed-gear 180hp single.

    I still don't know where you're getting this "lack of flexibility in loading" thing. :dunno: And as someone who has flown it on a long cross-country trip - It's quite comfortable for 3-hour legs, more so than a lot of other airplanes.

    You don't see DA40's too often because Diamond does a pretty crappy job of marketing them, especially compared to Cirrus. They're also viewed as a "newcomer" compared to a company like Cessna, but that's mostly because most people don't realize they've been building aircraft since 1981 - The fact that they only built gliders and changed their name twice prior to 1995 when they started building airplanes didn't help.

    Your assertion that the DA40 is something that you only find rented from a flight school is also incorrect - Diamond expected that to happen more than it did, but they found that they were ending up with a lot of single owner pilot customers - That's a large part of why they created the DA40XL and DA40XLS, and split the flight-school variants into the DA40FP and DA40CS - Neither of which has sold particularly well, further reinforcing that most of the customers for the DA40 are owners, not flight schools.

    Cirri have their fuel in a wet wing. Metals tend to bend in a crash, while composites shatter. So, when Cirri crash, they tend to dump all of their fuel out very quickly, leading to flash fires.

    Diamond, OTOH, built a wing with dual main spars and put the fuel in an aluminum tank between them so it's very well protected, and extremely unlikely to burn. We've discussed this recently, I suggest you go check out that thread.
     
  18. elmetal

    elmetal Pre-takeoff checklist

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    it spins easily, but that's not the point, I agree that spinning an aircraft is the pilot's fault.
     
  19. elmetal

    elmetal Pre-takeoff checklist

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    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8502704.stm

    Really? the lovely parachute helped the plane not crash into the ground and kill its victims. But the composite continued to burn, burning the passengers to death before they even reached the ground


    OWT right?
     
  20. elmetal

    elmetal Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Moving my legs in a plane with a stick is hard, like crossing my legs, or moving around my seat trying to do something else with my legs. If I'm the one flying it's fine but if I'm not flying it can be a pain.

    But still, unless I'm doing something like 3+ hours it's not an issue, it's just more incentive to zigzag through the skies... who flies straight anyway!
     
  21. weilke

    weilke Final Approach

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    The fixed seats have nothing to do with CG, this is simply how the seats are designed in the composite gliders that the DA40 can be traced back to.


    We get it. You don't like the plane.
     
  22. Gary F

    Gary F Final Approach

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    I did not mean to imply that Cirrus aircraft are unsafe, only that the DA40 is a safer, more forgiving airplane.
    I have reviewed every Diamond accident report in the NTSB database as well as most if not all Cirrus accident reports. I agree that my comparison is not mathematically rigorous since I do not know the total hours flown but the numbers are concerning for Cirrus.

    Total SR20 produced 1999 -2009 (per GAMA) 1057 with 14 fatal accidents
    Total DA40 produced 2002- 2009 1352 produced with 5 fatal accidents

    Of the 5 DA40 accidents, one occurred buzzing a lake, 2 were during instrument approaches, one in a snowstorm after the pilot reported icing and one following aerobatics- possible suicide by airplane vs. really bad judgment.
     
  23. Gary F

    Gary F Final Approach

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    I think OWT means Old Wive's Tale.
    There has been speculation that the CAPS rocket serves as an ignition source.
     
  24. Gary F

    Gary F Final Approach

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    I disagree with your analysis. All airplanes are a collection of engineering trade offs and compromises. Diamond simply did things differently than you would have.
    I flew a SR20 three times when I was shopping for my first airplane. I thought that is was not nearly as fun to fly as a DA40. I did not like the awkward side stick until a few hundred feet then A/P for the rest of the trip. I am fairly certain that maintenance costs are higher for the SR20 with 2 additional cylinders and the CAPS to maintain. I suspect that insurance costs may be a lot higher for Cirrus.

    Me too. I had enough experience in other comparable aircraft to know which was the most fun to fly. I have found the DA40 to be practical for my requirements. Most of my flights are 160 to 300 miles with an occasional 800 to 1000 mile trip. If I flew more long cross country trips I probably would have gone with something faster like a Bonanza or a Mooney. I just don't like Cirrus aircraft but it's fine if you do.

    I also do not think that the DA40 is well suited for air taxi.
    Yes it is.
     
  25. flyersfan31

    flyersfan31 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    182. Period.

    Add turbo if you'll be in the mountains. Consider the turbo even if not.
     
  26. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Have you discussed this with your AME?

    Dr. Bruce will be along here in a minute... ;)
     
  27. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You can still cross your legs (below the knee)... You can't move your legs to the pax side, but that's also because of the center console, not just the stick. The only time I've actually had to do that to remain comfortable was in an Archer on a longish XC (Madison -> Kansas City and back). Yoke didn't help me much there!
     
  28. weilke

    weilke Final Approach

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    Neither is the 172 or the ArcherIII.
     
  29. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Is it therefore your opinion, sir, that moveable rudder pedals are the equivalent of an adjustable seat insofar as pilot comfort is concerned?:wink2:


     
  30. weilke

    weilke Final Approach

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    I find the semi-recumbent position with a parachute or foam-pad behind my back to be very comfortable, including longer trips. My upper body is too long for the older DA40 versions, but that problem dodges me in every plane that is not either an open biplane or a Cessna 182.
     
  31. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Like I said - And like Gary said - Every airplane is a set of trade-offs. There is no perfect airplane. A lot of "traditional" airplanes made a lot of the same trade-offs. Diamond is certainly a very *different* airplane, because they made different trade-offs than most people are used to. But when you look at *why* they made those trade-offs, I think they did a great job. If you focus on the negative aspects of each trade-off and ignore the positive aspects, of course it's not going to look good. I think the fuel system example is a good one - If I were a random person getting into a Diamond for the first time and had to use that funky fuel measuring contraption, I'd say "Jeez, that's stupid!" But now that I know the reason for it (protecting the fuel tanks from being breached in an accident) I'm not only OK with it, I actually think it was a very creative thing to do and I like it.

    I dunno about "much" more comfortable... But that's pretty subjective.

    WRT sturdiness: The following limitation appears on the SR20 (and SR22) type certificate:

    There is no such limitation in the DA40's TCDS - It was certified for the structural test with one of its wing spars missing, and still passed. (It has two main wing spars.)

    Yes, but those are mainly metal aircraft. Metal bends - Composites shatter.

    True of any airplane, yes - And the DA40 did recently have its first post-crash fire, proving that you can burn anything if you smush it hard enough. But the incidence of post-crash fires in the Cirri is quite high.

    Sigh. I'll go find the info for you. It's not a bad premise.

    Several knots less than book too - You can do that in any airplane, ya know. ;) I can get 135KTAS at 7.5 gph in the DA40, but I usually go for a few extra knots.

    You misunderstand. I had no love at all for the DA40 when I began airplane shopping. In fact, the first time I flew a Diamond was also the first day I flew a Cirrus, and I didn't like the Diamond as much - But the Cirrus was an SR22, and I was a new pilot and I really liked the performance from the 310hp up front.

    But, after going through the process and starting with over a dozen potential aircraft types and comparing them objectively, the DA40 was the clear winner. After some talk about 6-seaters, retracts, etc. we decided to narrow it down to 4-seat, fixed-gear singles in the 180-200hp range. (We were replacing an Archer and decided the mission requirements of the club overall weren't going to change much).

    That narrowed it down to the SR20, DA40, C172SP, Archer, and Tiger. And the SR20 was actually on top of the list at that point - The existence of the Cirri was what prompted the entire search for a new airplane in the first place.

    However, the SR20 was quickly eliminated. The poor safety record and high loss rate meant that the insurance company simply would not let us have one at any price. Around the same time, we had some club members form a new "club" solely for the purpose of buying an SR20. They were planning on getting an SR20 and a 182. Insurance would not cover more than 7 people on the SR20 and most of them remained members of our club. They kept trying to add another airplane (182 or SR22) on, but they still haven't managed to add another plane.

    Anyway... Of the remaining airplanes, all four had 180hp engines. The 172 and Archer are slow and thus less efficient. Here's how the rankings came out between them, in order, on each parameter:

    Speed: DA40, Tiger, Archer, 172
    Useful load: DA40, 172, Tiger, Archer
    Range: DA40, Tiger, Archer, 172

    See a pattern here? The DA40 was the top-ranked of the 180hp airplanes in every category. After additional extensive research, test flights, etc. the DA40 was the clear winner.

    Believe it or not, I'm not a Cirrus-hater. I liked the SR22 when I first flew it, then I started being a hater for a while, and then I got the opportunity to interview Alan Klapmeier for the first time. I came out with guns blazing, but he had an answer - A *good* answer - for everything I could throw at him. I was really impressed. He quickly became my favorite person to interview every year at OSH, and I actually defended the Cirrus from the haters in quite a few threads here.

    But, the Cirrus is not an aviator's plane. It's a go-places airplane and is very good at that. But, it's not particularly fun to fly, and has its own set of quirks. However, for the demographic that Cirrus seems to market to - Non-pilots who want to learn to fly and have a go-places machine that can be a status symbol as well - The Cirrus airplanes do an exceptional job. Plus, the parachute system helps allay a lot of fears in the uninformed types who think that an engine failure means you instantly plunge to the ground and make a smoking hole.

    Likewise - I have access to one club's DA40, 182, and Archer; another club's Arrow and Citabria; plus a rental fleet that includes 152, 172, Warrior, Archer, Arrow, Dakota, Seneca, and SR22. The DA40 tops my list unless I'm hauling too much meat or going to a rough strip, in which case I go back to the trusty 182. The 182 can also go places with nearly the speed of the DA40 (and it is of course the most comfortable of the bunch), so I use it as my backup for scheduling conflicts in the DA40 as well.

    More likely, it was the parachute. Most non-pilots have some level of fear of flying - Hell, I used to before I became a pilot. I'd have definitely spent the extra money on a faster airplane with a parachute. But we're not talking air taxis here.
     
  32. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm right on the edge for the older DA40's as well - My plan was to buy a Mach 1 in-ear headset for the DA40.

    Luckily (!), our plane was in a hailstorm which cracked the canopy (before we bought it), and so the canopy was replaced - With a nice new XLS canopy. So, I'm still able to fly it with a traditional headset. It's a very quiet airplane, and with the Zulus on, it's REALLY quiet. :yes:
     
  33. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    iMooniac
    Okay. Here's some stuff, reposted from another thread a couple months ago:

    Then, someone made up the assertion that "Cirri fly three times as much as Diamonds" (and at least he admitted that it was rectally sourced data), so I decided to get some real data to validate the above comparison:

     
  34. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I agree that Cirri tend to burn, but I do not agree with the assertion that they can't recover from a spin. It's something that's been passed around since the test flying, and it's simply not true.

    Yes, Cirrus used the chute as an alternative means of compliance WRT the spin testing rules during FAA certification. However, I spoke with the test pilot who did spin it, and yes, he did recover just fine. In fact, Cirrus *DID* do the spin testing required for European certification, since the 'chute substitute was not allowed there, IIRC.

    So yes, the "lovely spin recovery characteristics. (or lack thereof)" is, in fact, an OWT.
     
  35. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    A Cirrus spins easily? Really? Have you done a spin test on a Cirrus? I did on an SR-22, it took considerable effort and skill to make it spin. It required trying, and even then you had to try correctly to get it to break under and make a full turn. Once you do get it to start rotating recovery is straight forward using the standard ailerons neutral, opposite rudder forward stick inputs.
     
  36. Gort01

    Gort01 Filing Flight Plan

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    With all this talk of the Cirrus and DA40, how about a Columbia/Cessna 300/350/400?
     
  37. Mark M.

    Mark M. Filing Flight Plan

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    I consider the C-182 a very good all around airplane. Few planes out there can carry full fuel and passengers, the 182 can, and at a cruise of 135 knots at 7,500 feet, it's not a bad bird. I really enjoy mine. Just my two cents.
     
  38. Tom-D

    Tom-D Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Now you are comparing two completely different aircraft and engines the 172 will not do the OPs mission the 210 will and well, and the 210 gear saddles are a long term AD, you probably won't see in two life times in normal service.
     
  39. Tom-D

    Tom-D Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The 182 retract and the early 210 are basically the same aircraft, the early 210 can be had at half the cost of a 182 retract.

    If you don't like the retract try a C-180/185. they will do the mission very well 145k is about average low cruise for the 185, and a normal cruise for the 180. they will clear the high rocks with ease, with the full mission load aboard.
     
  40. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    The 182 is the solid B+ student with no additional aspirations.

    The 182RG and 210 are his show-off Type A younger brothers. ;)