Diamond Aircraft has made the first flight of a tandem-seat turboprop trainer that is designed to offer low-cost competition to existing offerings in that category. The Diamond Aircraft Reconnaissance Trainer-450 (Dart-450) flew for 60 minutes on May 17. The Austrian company claims that the Dart-450 is the world’s first such aircraft constructed entirely of carbon fiber, and with a sidestick and pneumatic ejection seats.
The Dart-450 was designed and built in one year, according to Diamond’s chief designer Clemens Knappert. However, the aircraft’s Ukrainian AI-450S turboprop engine has been in flight test on a Diamond DA50 touring aircraft since January 2015. Designed by Ivchenko-Progress and Motor Sich, this powerplant has a dual Fadec system and can deliver up to 500 shp. It has a 20 percent lower fuel burn than equivalents, claims the manufacturer. Like the turboprop DA50, the DART 450 has a five-blade MT propeller.
Diamond Aircraft chief executive officer Christian Dries told AIN earlier this year that the Dart-450 will be priced well below $3 million and have an operating cost of less than $500 per hour. He said that the company had already gained one firm order for the aircraft.
The top speed of the Dart-450 will be 250 knots, and it will be capable of +7g and -5g maneuvering. Endurance will be eight hours. Dries told AIN that the sidestick (or optional central stick) will initially be linked to conventionally boosted flight controls, but that a fly-by-wire system will eventually be designed. The avionics system is provided by Garmin. Provision has been made for carriage of an EO/IR sensor ball that can retract into the underbelly.