By Marilyn Bruinsma
Diamond aircraft are truly shining stars in the skies of aviation. COPA 45 members held their June meeting with dinner at the Katana Café and a tour of the Diamond facility. Marketing executive, Cathy Wood split the group. One group received a technical tour while the other had a marketing tour.
The company originated in Austria. While in Canada, CEO Christian Dries landed at the London airport. Here, he noticed an abandoned aircraft factory. From that visit his executives decided to locate a manufacturing company in London. That was in 1993. How fortunate for London and the North American aviation market. Recently in 2006 another plant was opened in China.
The Diamond plant is based is the former World War II Mosquito aircraft factory. A sleek metal and glass entrance welcomes you to this plant of modern aviation technology. But looking up, way up, you see the well-worn wooden ceilings with miles of white painted heating pipes. There is no air conditioning in the factory, just the offices.
The plant has expanded with more than 600 employees. There have however, been some layoffs due to the present economy.
Modern construction means modern benefits. Composites are stronger, lighter, and bend more easily than aluminium. Composites are smooth like glass and reduce drag. The aircraft are fast, efficient, safe and striking.
The flowing lines of the fuselage, the spacious bubble canopy and cockpit, the well-equipped instrument panel would lure any pilot to sit inside this beauty. But Diamond’s beauty goes deeper than its appearance.
COPA 45 members saw the glass fibre reinforced epoxy that is used on the frame to add strength and durability. We saw the carbon-fibred fabric, which adds a lot of strength to the weight ratio. We also saw the Kevlar carbon hybrid materials, which add strength and toughness without weight.
A static primer is then applied underneath the paint to ensure the avionics work well in rain. We saw the push rods used instead of cables. They are protected against corrosion for precision handling of the aircraft. Safety is important to Diamond as it designs new aircraft for the aviation market.
The DA-20 is superb for training student pilots whether through flight schools,
universities or colleges. The United States Air Force trains all its cadets on this airplane. It is comfortable and performs well. Members noticed how sporty and sleek it looks yet it is very reliable and economical to fly.
Diamond has developed a flight simulator specific to each aircraft model. The members saw the simulators in the flight school classroom. Simulators increase safety and proficiency for the student. It also is a greener choice for training and more students can be accommodated in the same time frame.
Diamond wants you as a pilot from your first airplane, DA-20, to your plane of choice, a Diamond Star, a Diamond Twin Star or even a Diamond Jet. Cathy told us that the Star is probably the most popular purchase of pilots. It has great visibility and advanced avionics. The 180 hp Lycoming engine lets you cruise at 150 knots with a very economical fuel burn of 10 gph. It can be used for recreational, business or corporate flying, whatever the pilot wishes.
Since the Wright Brothers more than a century ago, aviation entrepreneurs and manufacturers have introduced the wonders of flight to millions around the world. That spirit of no bounds is found in a Diamond. It is an independent spirit of adventure and leadership.