Austria’s Diamond Aircraft Industries new DART-450 is the brainchild of company CEO, Christian Dries, who saw a gap in the market, serving those countries that might be unable to afford existing tandem turboprop trainers.
With a price tag of less than $4 million, the DART-450 is less than half the price of a Pilatus PC-9, while its innovative all-composite construction gives lower support and through life costs.
Diamond claims that the Diamond Aircraft Reconnaissance Trainer (DART) series represent the world’s first all-carbon fibre, tandem, two-seat aerobatic civilian-certified trainer aircraft with sidestick control and also (optionally) fitted with ejection seats.
The first DART-450 made its maiden flight on May 17 2016 and has been joined in the flight-test programme by a second aircraft, which is being used for certification tests. A third aircraft, to be powered by the 550hp General Electric (former Walter) 75100 engine, and fitted with Martin Baker Mk 16 ejection seats, is expected to fly imminently.
The DART-450 made its public debut at Farnborough and Diamond considered displaying the aircraft at Dubai, though to have done so would have required the use of both flying prototypes – curtailing the on-going certification programme.
The DART-450 will be cleared to +7/-4g in aerobatic configuration (with centre fuselage fuel tanks only) and to +5/-2.4g in multi-role configuration, with the full internal fuel load of 826 gallons.
The side-stick will initially be mated to conventionally boosted flight controls, before being integrated into a fly-by-wire system when designed.