Now, I may not be....
an auto-journalist, or an airplane-journalist, or even a regular journalist for that matter; but I’ll try to review something I got to ride in yesterday.
I’m not a pilot either, I don’t have a PPL, but I have flown some airplanes before (Cessna 152 and 182T Skylane) due to taking some discovery flights and selling my old BMW to a pilot in Camarillo. So I figured that when I got the chance to tag along with a friend who’s going for his instrument rating, that I’d take some pictures and see what this DA40 is all about.
It’s long, barely swept wings and the fighter-jet style cockpit canopy give this a more interesting look than your standard Cessna fare. Plus it has a pop-up cockpit canopy (like a Sterling Nova) and gull wing rear passenger door (only one in the rear kinda like a Hyundai Veloster!).
See the similarities!
Powered by a fuel injected Textron Lycoming IO-360 M1A engine kicking out a whopping 180hp, 0-60 (Indicated Air Speed) takes just over 15 seconds and it has a maximum cruise speed of 147 knots, burning 9.2 gallons of slightly leaded Avgas per hour. Its maximum takeoff weight is 2,535 lbs. Fun fact, they sold a diesel version of this engine in Europe; and yes, it was not available here in the USA.
I’m sure the front seats are pretty nice considering the pilot and instructor didn’t complain about their comfort. The back seats are a bit hard. Even though they are adorned in leather, the seat padding on the bottom is pretty thin, worse than a commercial airliner. Foot room was less than desired and there wasn’t much reading material. I did have a very nice air vent however.
The back seats might not have it all, but the front seats do! Equipped with center sticks and Garmin G1000 avionics, this plane is one of the best to do IFR training in. Plus with it’s incredibly large field of view, seeing traffic in the sky is quite easy.
HANDLING... or flying...
So, I won’t really know how it handles since I didn’t get to take control, but from what my friend told me it’s very forgiving. It’s longer than normal wingspan turns this thing into a glider almost. The wrap-around canopy and low panel help the pilot’s vision, plus the wings are just behind the pilot and therefore you can see up, left, right, and down and sideways. The one blind spot is down and straight ahead, where your view is blocked by the panel and cowling.
Also, since the DA40 we were in had a G1000 cockpit, with an optional GFC700 autopilot, navigation was easy and there the info you wanted was right where you needed it.
As of January 2005, with hundreds of airplanes in the fleet, there has been only one fatal DA40 crash. Great safety record in my book!
This is was a really fun Wednesday for me. While it was really just me hanging in the back and our route from KEMT to KSBA was just that and back with no time to get out and stretch our legs, I had a good time just watching him fly “under the hood”*see below. Plus listening to ATC and SoCal approach gave me a bit of an itch to go for my PPL, but we’ll see as I have bad red-green color deficiency.
So under the hood basically means you can’t see above the cockpit panel. So no looking out the window except for traffic spotting. You basically focus all your attention on the instruments. Probably feels strange the first time you do it.