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Aircraft Review : Diamond DA40NG XP12 by SimSolutions


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Aircraft Review : Diamond DA40NG XP12 by SimSolutions

 

We are all very familiar with Diamond Aircraft, but to date the majority of Diamonds have come from Aerobask. That is good, but it also creates an extremely high benchmark if anyone else wants to tackle the same design and manufacturer in comparison.

 

This is the DA40NG Diamond Star, which is an earlier version of the model line. Built in both Austria and Canada, it was developed as a four-seat version of the earlier DA20. The Rotax 914-powered prototype DA40-V1, registered OE-VPC, first flew on 5 November 1997 and was followed by a second prototype DA40-V2 (registered OE-VPE) which was powered by a Continental IO-240. In 1998 a third prototype DA40-V3 flew powered by a Lycoming IO-360 engine. Four more test aircraft were produced followed by the first production aircraft in 2000. JAR23 certification of the IO-360 production variant was obtained in October 2000. In 2002 the production of the Lycoming-engined variant was moved to Canada and the Austrian factory concentrated on diesel-engined variants. The first flight of the Diesel DA40D was made on 28 November 2002.  The DA40 is a four-seat low-wing cantilever monoplane made from composite materials. It has a fixed tricycle landing gear and a T-tail.

 

The DA40 NG  (New Generation) is the latest model and offered only in selected markets (DA40 standard model is still offered in other markets). It is powered by an Austro Engine AE 300 165.6 hp (123.5 kW) a Diesel running on JET A-1 fuel. EASA certified April 2010. By December 2020, 500 NG models had been produced. NG probably refers to the Garmin G1000 instrument installation.

 

This is not a brand new aircraft from SimSolutions for the X-Plane Simulator, as the DA40 was released originally back 20th November 2021, or just over a year ago. That was obviously for X-Plane 11, but this release is for X-Plane 12, and the (.acf) comes in two separate versions for both X-Plane11 and X-Plane12.

 

DA40-XP12 - Menu.jpg

 

DA40-XP12 - Head 1.jpgDA40-XP12 - Head 2.jpgDA40-XP12 - Head 3.jpgDA40-XP12 - Head 4.jpg

 

So let us deal first with the obvious. In coming to purchase the SimSolutions DA40, your only paying US$24.95 and not the usual US$39.95 Aerobask base price, so the SimSolution aircraft is in another completely category of quality and features. So in other words don't expect the extreme detail and quality of Aerobask when selecting this aircraft, Comparisons are hard as well.

 

When said that...  the quality and detail of SimSolutions DA40 really surprised me of how very good it it really is. Notable the effects in X-Plane 12 really bring out the quality and detail, compared to the X-Plane 11 version. Composite aircraft are very hard to model correctly as they can come out very toy like, even false looking, but that is not at all the case here. The fuselage, tail and wings are all very well crafted and contoured nicely smooth....  I'm very impressed.

 

DA40-XP12 - Detail 1.jpgDA40-XP12 - Detail 2.jpgDA40-XP12 - Detail 3.jpgDA40-XP12 - Detail 4.jpg

 

The flat nose to accommodate the odd shaped diesel Austro Engine AE 300, looks a little odd on an aerodynamic aircraft, but the twin high air-intakes are really well modeled. Detailed panel screws are 3d and not prints or bump textures, are also nicely done, but the shiny exhaust although is well done but a bit too shiny. All wheels have cowlings, super aerodynamic they all are and the nose has a castor wheel system, so there is no steering.

 

Wing is nice and clean and upsweep tip detail and shape is excellent. Leading edge lighting looks excellent as well. But if you want to dig (price wise), then you will see the flap mechanism components are only just modeled and not textured or dirty for realism...

 

DA40-XP12 - Detail 5.jpgDA40-XP12 - Detail 6.jpg

 

...   and that is a point to make, in the aircraft is all very clean and factory new, so there is no wear and tear feel on the aircraft.

 

Overall it is a very nice and clean design... I'm pretty impressed.

 

DA40-XP12 - Detail 7.jpgDA40-XP12 - Detail 8.jpg

 

Glass is not bad, not really impressive or actually poor, but somewhere in the middle, overall it looks too thin. Saving it is the nice mottle glass effect on the canopy, in the light it can be seen quite clearly.

 

DA40-XP12 - Detail 9.jpgDA40-XP12 - Detail 10.jpg

 

Front canopy goes up forward, and for the rear entry access there is a large door on the left rear. Both doors are opened by manual catches.

 

DA40-XP12 - Detail 11.jpgDA40-XP12 - Detail 12.jpgDA40-XP12 - Detail 13.jpg

 

Considering the tight design, there is a lot space internally. Very Diamond in feel, I won't or you couldn't even compare it to the Aerobasks in ultra detail, as that would be totally unfair. In saying that it is very good internally and well designed, and even great value for the money.

 

DA40-XP12 - Detail 14.jpgDA40-XP12 - Detail 15.jpgDA40-XP12 - Detail 16.jpgDA40-XP12 - Detail 17.jpg

 

The highlight in here is the nicely detailed roof and internal lighting panels.

 

DA40-XP12 - Detail 18.jpg

 

Garmin G1000

Avionics is the standard Laminar Research G1000 PFD (Primary Flight Display), and MFD (Multi-Functional Display) with the radio controls set between the displays, nothing to learn here if you have used the default avionics before. The installation though is very nice and feels high quality. Note the AviTab (plugin required) on the right.

 

DA40-XP12 - G1000 1.jpgDA40-XP12 - G1000 2.jpgDA40-XP12 - G1000 3.jpgDA40-XP12 - G1000 4.jpgDA40-XP12 - G1000 5.jpg

 

The PFD/MFD displays pop-out, but have no bevels around the screen, just windows for home-builders.

 

DA40-XP12 - G1000 6.jpg

 

PFD (Primary Flight Display) is very good with the large Artificial Horizon dominating the screen with the Speed and Altitude (with built in Vertical Speed) tapes either side, Rate of turn and FD (Flight Director) are all present. Lower is the Heading rose with built in Heading, Wind (3 options), CRS (Course) DME, NAV 1, NAV 2 and OBS. There is the option to put a small map on the PFD but I never do (it makes the display too crowded). All Radio, Autopilot (AP) settings and data are across the top banner of the panel. Note the inbuilt warnings panel centre right.

 

DA40-XP12 - G1000 7.jpg

 

The secondary display is MFD or MAP/Navigation panel which covers also all the (EIS) engine outputs which are in two versions with one visual and one in data.

 

The colourful engine readouts covered are on page one; Manifold Pressure (LOAD) and RPM, Oil Temp and Pressure, Coolant Temp, Fuel Temp, Fuel quantity for both tanks. Oddly the Flaps and both Trims (positions) are not shown?

 

DA40-XP12 - G1000 8.jpg

 

"System" switch (data) covers the same LOAD and RPM top, (Electrical) Volts and Amps, (Engine) Gearbox Temp, Coolant Temp, (Oil) Temp Cº and BAR.  "Fuel" page (data) covers Fuel Calculations in FFLOW GPH (Gallons Per Hour), Fuel Temp º,  GAL REM (Remain), GAL USED (Used), ENDUR (Endurance) and RANGE.

 

DA40-XP12 - G1000 9.jpgDA40-XP12 - G1000 10.jpg

 

Glareshield has central the three analog backup instruments, Airspeed, Artificial Horizon and Altlitude, and a nicely intergrated compass, the internal/external lighting knobs and switches are left.

 

DA40-XP12 - G1000 11.jpg

 

Right side Contact Breaker (Fuse) panel is well done, and although a manipulator hand appears, they are not actually active. Centre console is nice, but Diamond's don't have a lot of levers and buttons. Detail is good, but not finely done. I do like the rudder assembly detail, it is well done and detailed deep in the footwells

 

DA40-XP12 - G1000 13.jpgDA40-XP12 - G1000 12.jpgDA40-XP12 - G1000 14.jpg

 

Menus

On the main X-Plane banner menu, is an aircraft menu dropdown "SimSolutions DA40 (XP12)". Notably it will show which aircraft version in X-Plane 11 or X-Plane 12 you are flying, a touch I really like that saves confusion (hint other developers).

 

DA40-XP12 - Static Elements 1.jpg

 

There are two menu selections; "Toggle Chocks/Tiedowns', and "Open Settings".

 

Toggle Chocks/Tiedowns, toggles static elements of Chocks, pitot covers, wing tip covers, engine inlet covers and tiedowns.

 

DA40-XP12 - Static Elements 2.jpg

 

Secondary Menu "Open Settings" has five selections; Show (AviTab) tablet, G1000 Popout Buttons, Show Throttle Position, Hide Pax (Pilot and Co-Pilot) When Parked and Enable Persistence.

 

DA40-XP12 - Static Elements 3.jpg

 

The AviTab tablet is positioned on the right door frame...  Pilot and Co-Pilot are not animated and fully dressed in a suit and waist coat, who flies GA in a suit?...  "hands up".

 

DA40-XP12 - Static Elements 4.jpgDA40-XP12 - Static Elements 5.jpgDA40-XP12 - Static Elements 6.jpg

 

G1000 Popout Buttons (default: off) – This toggles the frame around the G1000 when popping the display out. Useful to keep off if you are a cockpit builder, but may be better for some if enabled. Still a work in progress.

Show Throttle Position (default: on) – This shows your power lever’s position over the load dial.

Hide Pax When Parked (default: on) – This hides the passengers from the outside view when the chocks are set. If disabled, the passengers will still be visible with the chocks on.

Enable Persistence (default: on) – If enabled and you spawn within 5 nm from where you last left the DA40, the aircraft will automatically restore it’s state.

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Flying the DA40 NG

The SimSolutions J3 Cub was the impromptu nature to invest in a set of Rudder Pedals. It caused me so much grief in trying to steer the aircraft, I just wasn't going to put myself through that again. The DA40 has the same problem, but a castering nosewheel this time, so I'm thankful for the toe-brakes. For the rest of you I think the DA40 would be impossible to taxi... a steering (yaw) option by the developer should have been provided? Even with the toe-brakes it is a handful.

 

As with a slight toe-brake movement it will snap the aircraft to the right or left, but you sorta work it out with feather like touches and taxi it straight.

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 1.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 2.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 3.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 4.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 5.jpg

 

The startup sounds had been actually quite good. There is a modern Engine Management System here, so all you have to do is turn on the fuel and then turn the key, no mixture settings, no priming, so you just turn and go. So on the startup you do get the diesel knocking and clackity clack noise, and even at idle it feels very non-turbine and slightly lumpy until you give it a few revs, then it feels quite powerful. So it is very good, even impressive for the price with this FMOD.

 

Obviously I wasn't looking forward to the takeoff roll. It was easier than I thought it would it would be at power, a slight Asymmetric thrust meant guiding it softly until the aerodynamics cut in, but otherwise it was a clean roll, you bite the around 57 knts (Flaps set T/O) 

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 6.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 7.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 8.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 9.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 10.jpg

 

Pull back on the stick and your airborne. 5.69 m/s (1,120 ft/min) or a rational rate of climb would be around 800 fpm, the DA40 climbs nicely, but very slowly. Two notes. You need to get the flaps up quickly to kill the drag while climbing, and I had the weird situation that during the whole flight the flaps would quite consistently drop a notch (T/O), X-Plane 12? This is still an RC (Release Candidate).

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 12.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 13.jpg

 

Trim and the DA40 is nice to fly, a touch to the stick here, a bank to left there. This is a modern aerodynamic slippery aircraft, not a weighted upright post war design. So you slip into a ease of flying. So notably easy I took to the Control Tower view and flew around the airfield in banks, like you would fly a Model aircraft around a field... fun obviously, not very pilot focused realistic. But it does show you how easy to fly the DA40 is...  even from a distance.

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 14.jpg

 

Back to the serious stuff.

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 15.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 16.jpg

 

There is a simplicity to the design, more than a backyard kit, not fully a manufactured aircraft, it sorts of slips between the two. Glass looks too thin in the air, but otherwise the Diamond is a nice aircraft. Best feature is the slower rotating propeller spinner, you see it revolving nicely as you power along, a nice touch. The closeup detail is very nice, it's not going to win any major awards, but it is very well done.

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 17.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 18.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 19.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 20.jpg

 

Cruise speed is 279 km/h (173 mph, 151 kn) TAS, with a range: 1,341 km (833 mi, 724 nmi) and the Service ceiling is set at 5,000 m (16,000 ft).

 

Lighting

Overall the lighting is average. It starts good with the two lighting options to light the panel and an adjustable cast green dropdown glow from the glareshield.

 

DA40-XP12 - Lighting 1.jpgDA40-XP12 - Lighting 2.jpgDA40-XP12 - Lighting 3.jpg

 

There are three roof mounted lights, two for each front seat and one for the rear, it is okay, but roof lighting sources are very poor. Ditto to a point is the exterior. The main Navigation and strobe lights are only just passible, but it ends there. The main Taxi and landing lights are poor in the dark, and not seen at all in the day light, I'll use the word pathetic.

 

DA40-XP12 - Lighting 4.jpgDA40-XP12 - Lighting 5.jpgDA40-XP12 - Lighting 6.jpg

 

You bauble along quite nicely, as for a GA you enjoy the aircraft. The SimSolutions DA40 is certainly a great easy to fly with great rewards aircraft, it's simple, not in a bad sense, but in the sense that it is easy to learn and fly, so a novice would get a lot of comfort and enjoyment out of the machine. Shame about that loose nosewheel, as if that it was more controllable the DA40 would have been an all round great learner aircraft.

 

  DA40-XP12 - Flight 21.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 22.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 23.jpg

 

No spars or tight low windows here to obstruct the view here. The DA40 is very open and modern to fly. X-Plane 12 looks glorious around you as well.

 

My flight today is from KLAL (Lakeland) to KRSW (South Florida), an old stamping ground and familiar route, and so I go into the clockwise landing circuit for RWY 06. Down low now to 500 ft and it see's you skimming the roof tops.

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 24.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 25.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 26.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 27.jpg

 

 Another 90º turn to approach, very nice, even exciting at this low height... 

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 28.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 29.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 30.jpg

 

I settle into the approach at full Flap (LDG) at around 80 knts...

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 31.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 32.jpg

 

...   dropping the speed to 65 knts and a descent of 300 fpm is pretty well brilliant for the final approach and coming in over the field boundary.

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 33.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 34.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 35.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 36.jpg

 

I'm aware the flare is a touch high, as I don't want to do a tri-cycle landing with that castor wheel... touch is at 58 knts, with a DA40 Stall speed of 49 knts (57 mph) flaps down. In the end the high flare didn't matter that much as the touch was perfect.

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 38.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 39.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 40.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 41.jpg

 

My skill with the toe-brakes means I stay sorta centre, but at least I'm not upside down on the grass.

 

DA40-XP12 - Flight 42.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 43.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 44.jpgDA40-XP12 - Flight 45.jpg

 

So I will reinforce that aspect, easy (well easyish) if you have rudder pedals, but what of if you use a mouse to fly...  tricky! But overall the Diamond DA40 is a great if brilliant learner aircraft for novices. The G1000 set is basic, but very good for this type of aircraft.

_________________

Liveries

One blank and seven liveries are provided here, all really with the same coloured swirly stripe on white theme. Blank/white is default

 

DA40-XP12 - Livery white_.jpgDA40-XP12 - Livery D-ENGJ.jpgDA40-XP12 - Livery N226DA.jpgDA40-XP12 - Livery N712LA.jpgDA40-XP12 - Livery N913DA.jpgDA40-XP12 - Livery OE-DAF.jpgDA40-XP12 - Livery OE-DWS.jpgDA40-XP12 - Livery OE-UDI.jpg

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Summary

The DA40 NG  (New Generation) is built by Diamond Aircraft, and it is the latest model and offered only in selected markets. (DA40 standard model is still offered in other markets). It is powered by an Austro Engine AE 300 165.6 hp (123.5 kW) a Diesel running on JET A-1 fuel. NG probably refers to the Garmin G1000 instrument installation. The DA40 is a four-seat low-wing cantilever monoplane made from composite materials. It has a fixed tricycle landing gear and a T-tail.

 

The aircraft is from SimSolutions, also developer of the AMD Alarus, and Piper J3 Cub. Released in October 2021 for X-Plane 11, this release is the X-Plane 12 version of the DA40. Both X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 versions are included in the package.

 

As noted in the review, most Diamonds in the X-Plane Simulator have usually come from Aerobask, mostly their aircraft are priced in the sub US$40 dollar range, this DA40 is priced at US$29.95, but the point to make and as this review shows, that Aerobask quality (and price) is not to be used in comparison, this aircraft is priced far, far lower, and also so has to be the expectations in quality and features.

 

Overall it is a great little modern composite design aircraft to fly, and great for novice flyers. It comes with the Laminar Research (basic) G1000 avionics suite, but the installation has been well done. Modelling and detail is also very good (for the price), X-Plane 12 quality is very good. Options include Static Elements (basic), AviTab Tablet and fully clothed pilots and a good FMOD sound package.

 

Niggles include a wayward nose castor wheel that requires toe-brakes to be effective (developer should provide alternative steering options), poor lighting elements (although the instrument panel is very nice) internally and worse externally, and too thin glass.

 

If you want a cheap but very good Diamond, that is easy to fly and even highly enjoyable. Then you can't go past this Diamond DA40 from SimSolutions...  the more fly it around, the more you like it...  yes the DA40 is even recommended as a good buy.

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X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

The Diamond DA40NG by  SimSolutions is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store

 

Diamond DA40NG

Priced  now at US$24.99

 
Features
  • for both X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11
  • Fully modeled exterior
  • 4K PBR Textures
  • Fully modeled 3D cockpit
  • 3D cockpit modeled using AFM diagrams
  • Opening of doors (Canopy and Passenger)
  • Laminar G1000 Integration with custom EIS
  • Custom FMOD Sounds by FTSim+
  • AviTab integration
  • Guide on how to use aircraft (.pdf)
Plugin
  • Toggleable Tie Downs, Inlet Covers, Chocks
  • Custom EIS system
  • Toggleable Tablet
Liveries
  • Default (White)
  • D-ENGJ
  • N712LA
  • N913DA
  • OE-DWS
  • OE-DAF
  • OE-UDI

 

Requirements

X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac  and Linux ((tested on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS)
4 GB+ VRAM
Download Size: 340 MB
Current version: 1.2.0 (November 26th 2022)
 

Installation and documents:  download for the Diamond DA40 is 340Mb and is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder.

 

The AviTab plugin is also required to use this aircraft, and it is deposited in your X-Plane Plugins folder.

 

Full Installation is 460Mb

 

Documents supplied are:

  • README
Basic manual (6 pages) "How to Install" and use.pdf

___________________________

 

Review by Stephen Dutton

5th December 2022

Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews

 

Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Right Reserved
  

Review System Specifications: 

Computer System: Windows  - IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD 

Software:   - Windows 11 - X-Plane v12.00RC2 (note this review was done in the beta revision period)

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick, Throttle & Rudder Pedals : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: Traffic GlobalJustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00

Scenery or Aircraft

- KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 1.0 by Nicolas (Airport by NAPS) - (X-Plane.Org) - Free

- KRSW - Southwest Florida International Airport by Aerosoft  (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.95

 

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