Introduction

In one of my other reviews I wrote that the typical General Aviation aircraft is a single piston engine four-seater. And a Cessna 172 or Piper 28 like aircraft is what comes to the mind of most people first when they think about a GA-Aircraft. Now, the next and natural step of evolution of course will be a two piston engine six-seater. And this is also a big step for a private pilot too as the handling of a twin engine aircraft is quite different from a single engine one. Therefore a private pilot needs a multi engine certification for flying these birds.

For X-Plane we have already some nice twin engine GA-Aircraft of this class, the Beech Baron 58, some Pipers like the Seneca or the Twin Comanche and so on. The Baron is probably the most famous one in this class, in X-Plane as well as in real life. But there are also other vendors who build interesting twins like the Austrian company Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH (now part of the Chinese Wanfeng Aviation Industry corporation) with their Diamond DA62. And with Aerobask we have a design studio that is well known for their excellent aircraft add-ons. So let’s have a closer look at Aerobask’s latest model: the Diamond DA62.

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The real thing

The first thing to mention about Diamond aircraft is that they are equipped with Diesel engines instead of common AVGas engines. These engines can be used with Diesel or Jet-A fuel and they are known for their low cost operation and fuel consumption. A DA42 Twin Star, a twin engine four-seater, did a non-stop transatlantic flight from St. John’s (Newfoundland) to Porto (Portugal) in 2004 with a fuel consumption of 3,77 Gal/Nm. These engines are build by Austro Engine, a subsidiary of Diamond Aircraft.

One special feature of those engines is that they facilitate a one lever handling. This, as well as the low operational cost, made Diamond aircraft, esp. the DA20D and DA40D single engines,  quite popular for flying schools. Another thing to mention about Diamond aircraft is that they use a Stick instead of the typical Yoke.

The DA62 is a five-to-seven seater twin engine light aircraft which was introduced in 2015. While the seven seater is build for the US market, the five seater is mainly build for the European market to avoid higher, weight based ATC charges. The DA62 is an evolution of the single engine DA50 prototype and the twin engine DA42.

Tech-Specs:

  • Length: 30 ft 2 in
  • Wingspan: 48 ft 3 in
  • Height: 7 ft 6 in
  • Wing area: 184.1 sq ft
  • Empty weight: 3,461 lb
  • Max takeoff weight: 5,071 lb
  • Fuel capacity: 86 US gal
  • Powerplant: 2 × Austro AE330 diesel aircraft engines, 134 kW (180 hp) each
  • Maximum speed: 198 KTAS
  • Cruise speed: 175 KTAS
  • Stall speed: 67 kn
  • Never exceed speed: 205 kn
  • Range: 1,285 nm
  • Service ceiling: 20,000 ft
  • Rate of climb: 1,200 ft/min

Aerobask’s version

Aerobask chose the seven seat version of the Diamond DA62 for their add-on. Unfortunately I have never seen or flown in a real DA62 so I searched  the Web for some real world footage to compare it with the virtual one. And yeah… let’s jump into the sim, go ahead!

Exterior model

Let me tell you, when I first saw the DA62 in X-Plane I immediately fell in love with it. This is darn looking good aircraft. It has a slick design, a long nose, a one piece windshield, large windows, voluminous engine nacelles,  beautiful wingtips and a T-Tail. The engineers and designers at Diamond Aircraft created a perfect symbiosis of functionality and design. This bird looks fast and powerful!

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I start my tour with a review of the exterior model esp. 3D modelling, use of PBR reflections and texture work with a focus on accuracy and level of detail. And what I saw here simply took my breath away. Some of you may have read one of my other reviews and probably know, that I’m usually not that enthusiastic. I appreciate a good 3D-Design and texture work, but usually, on a closer look you can find some things that are not made to perfection. However, in many cases perfect is not optimal and during normal aircraft operation you won’t see the details of e.g the aircraft gear system, so these are minor points. Aerobask’s DA62 comes very, very close to perfection even on a closer look. It is certainly a masterpiece in all three categories: 3D-Modelling, use of PBR reflections and texture work and by far the best I’ve ever seen in X-Plane.

So let’s have a look at the details: In terms of 3D-Modelling this model is made to a incredible level. All the surfaces on that bird look really realistic. You’ll hardly find any edgy shapes except on a very high zoom level. The amount of detail in the 3D-Model is really great. I compared esp. the nacelles and gears with real world footage and there are only really minor things that set apart from the original. Things that are hard to notice even during a review. Have a look at the elevator and rudder trim flaps, they are modelled and functional. Something that is often omitted. Even the door handles are 3D-modelled.

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The texture work and PBR modelling is also breathtaking. Have you ever seen a metallic paint on an X-Plane aircraft? Together with the perfect PBR reflections this metallic paint looks absolutely gorgeous. The amount of detail in textures is outstanding, you can even see the LED emitters on the position lights and I can tell that they are mounted by some Allen bolts.

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Inside the DA62

The cabin and cockpit of the DA62 is made to the same high standard as the exterior model in terms of 3D-Modelling, PBR reflections and texture work. I’m pretty sure, if it would be technically possible, Aerobask would have even added the smell of leather to that add-on. Like the outside, I compared it to real world footage and I hardly found any differences. Everything looks very convincing.

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The amount of detail in 3D-Modelling and functionality is simply great. For example you can move the pedals for- and backwards like in the real DA-62. A thing I really appreciate since I’m 6.5ft tall. 😀

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Like outside the texture work and PBR reflections of the cabin are made to a very high standard, if not the highest possible. It is very close to photo-realistic. Just take your time and read the instructions on the Fire-Extinguisher below the right side back-seat before starting that beast. Or have a look at the door security locks.

The cockpit is dominated by the two large G1000 screens. The G1000 is the standard equipment for the real DA62 as well. Being a fan of old, steam gauge equipped aircraft this is the only downer I encountered with this DA62. But this is a very personal thing and I’m sure most of you appreciate a nice and clean glass cockpit. Again, the 3D-Modelling of the cockpit is close to perfect as well and so is the texture work and reflections.

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Almost everything inside the cockpit is functional including the circuit breakers and the click-spots are good to find except for the backseat lightning, they are a bit fiddly. The ventilation system controls located in the dome are not yet functional, but this is a minor thing and probably it will be added in one of the upcoming updates.

Performance

Now, with all this great and detailed 3D-Modelling, PBR reflections and detailed high resolution textures you would probably ask a question about this add-on’s performance esp. in terms of framerate. And yes, I was a bit concerned about fps performance since my system is not cutting edge except for the graphics card probably (see my system specs at the bottom of this review). And as a matter of fact, I have some aircraft inside my virtual hangar that deliver a mediocre framerate while being considered as eye candy. But this is actually not the case with the DA62. During the whole test I never faced a situation where my frames dropped below 35fps except for 3-4 seconds when a new scenery tile was loaded.

Features

The DA62 comes with a menu which appears when you move the mouse to the left edge of your X-Plane window. Clicking that menu, a pop up window appears on the screen.

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Using that pop-up you can control several aircraft settings like

  • Load settings like Passengers, Luggage and Fuel,
  • Switch on/off reflections to save some fps,
  • Switch on/off oxygen sound,
  • Open/close Pilot, Copilot, Passenger and Luggage doors,
  • Apply ground equipment,
  • Fill oxygen and de-ice fluid tanks and as a special feature
  • set the reliability oft circuit breakers from perfect to popcorn (not a joke!)

Beside the obvious G1000 pop-up screens there’s a an additional pop-up screen for the MD302 SAM Standby Attitude Module.

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As another nice and handy feature you can control the interior and exterior sounds by a mouse wheel control located at the pilots and copilots headset jacks in the center console.

Documentation

The DA62 comes with a full set of documentation including and installation and settings manual, of course a detailed add-on owners manual as well as normal and emergency procedure checklists, a handy normal operation airspeed reference card, a set of performance tables and last but not least a MD302 quick reference.

The documentation is more than sufficient and I was able to answer all my questions about aircraft performance, operation and all the stuff regarding add-on usage with this docs.

Test flight

Time for a short ride! For my test flight I chose a trip from Alesund, Norway, to Floro along the beautiful Norwegian coastline with their fiords and hundreds of small islands. A short but nice trip of about 66nm.

Start and Take-Off

Starting the DA62 is a bit different to other piston engine aircraft because of the Diesel engines. You don’t have the typical magneto settings. Just switch on the battery, fuel pumps and engine master and you’re good to go to turn on the engine by pressing the starter button. By doing this you will notice really great sounds on everything. Like the different switches where a rocker switch has a different sound than a toggle switch. The sounds of fuel pumps, the electrical trim wheel, the electro motor that moves the pedals. Every single sound is very well recorded and if you’re not yet convinced you’ll be at latest when you hit the starter button. Gent’s, let me tell you, these engine sounds are incredible! The sound modelling of the engines have been done to a really outstanding level. The sounds that are produced by the starting engine make a smooth transition to the idle power running engines as you would expect on the real thing. The samy you will notice by shutting down the engine.

Taxi out to the runway ist quite unadventurous, ground handling is quite easy and so I line up with the runway. I use the G1000 to set altimeter and transponder code, set flaps and elevator trim to take off configuration and gently push on the throttle lever and the plane started rolling. The runway is a bit bumpy but that’s not a huge issue and after some seconds the plane is constantly gaining speed. Rotate speed is between 76 and 83KIAS depending on TOW. I’m quite heavy loaded so I wait until 82KIAS before I pulled on the stick. The DA62 comes off the ground and slowly gained speed while gently climbing with 400-500fpm. After reaching a safe altitude I retract gear and flaps and the aircraft gains speed a bit faster. So I climbed up to a cruise altitude of about 4500ft for my trip today.

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As mentioned before, the DA62 only has a power lever per engine. It also does not have a mixture or carburetor lever, remember, it’s a Diesel engine. All of this makes engine management in the DA62 quite easy. However, the modelling of engine behaviour is quite realistic and so I was able to force an engine fire by constantly running at full throttle on low altitude.

Flight Dynamics

After reaching my cruise altitude it’s time to start some tests of the flight dynamics. With a load factor of 75% the cruise speed of the aircraft is about 150KIAS  at 4500ft. I trimmed the elevator so I maintain a level flight with less stick input as possible and started with a simple left and right turn. With a bit of practice and rudder input a coordinated turn with a bank angle of 30° is easily to achieve. Turning the aircraft by rudder input only requires a bit practice too as the aircraft reacts very sensitive on the rudder.

Next thing to test is a power-on / power-off stall. Here you have to know, that the DA62 does not have counter rotating propellers. Nevertheless, in both cases the aircraft reacts very soft. There’s  a lot of warning in advance but finally it softly turned to the left while keeping nose up during the power on stall. Recovering is easy. With the power off stall it just dropped the nose when reaching stall speed at about 78KIAS. I compared that with some videos I found and it looked pretty realistic. But this is some kind of obligatory program anb so I switched the left engine off and started to do some turns and stalls again. Usually turning into the direction of a dead engine is somewhat critical on twins since the aircraft tends to wing over. But the DA62 is known for it’s soft behaviour even in such a critical situation. However this situation should turn into a more severe one while during a power-on stall and indeed, the aircraft turned into a left spin. Impressive! The behaviour of the aircraft in X-Plane was nearly exactly the same like the one I saw on video.

During that single engine operation the propeller of the dead engine went directly into feather position and was not turning any longer. To switch on the engine again I reduced speed to about 100KIAS and turned on the engine master toggle switch. The propeller left it’s feather position and after pressing the starter button again, the engine started without any problems. Great.

Ice

Another nice feature of Aerobask’s DA62 is the simulation of Icing during flight. To check this I went over to the weather settings and changed it from nice CAVOK to real $4!t weather: Overcast sky, minus 8 degrees celsius and heavy precipitation. After a minute or so I could see how ice appeared on the wings edges and the aircraft began to react a bit sluggish. Switching on De-Icing solved that problem very soon. 

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G1000 Glass Cockpit

The glass cockpit is basically the original Laminar Research incarnation of Garmin’s G1000. However, the LR standard obviously was not build with Diesel engines in mind and so the engine monitoring needed to be recreated to reflect these special engine parameters. Aerobask did exactly this, but due to a restriction this is only shown in 3D mode. The 2D pop-up G1000 MFD does not show these modifications. This is surely one thing that LR needs to fix in the future to allow aircraft designers to modify the G1000 to the aircraft needs.

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Landing

Now, for the rest of the flight I switched on the autopilot and enjoyed the nice landscape of Norway’s west coast. About 10nm before Floro I started my descent and turned a bit east in order to make a gentle visual approach towards runway 25. Landing this bird is as easy as pie. I reduced speed to about 115KIAS before I first set flaps to the first notch 3nm in front of the runway. Then I also lowered the landing gear and let the plane slow down a bit more. maintaining about 90KIAS I set flaps full and easily landed the plane soft and smooth at Floro . What a nice flight!

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My Verdict

Aerobask’s Diamond DA62 is in my opinion by far the best aircraft model I have seen in X-Plane and it is certainly a must have for all general aviation fans.

The thing I really appreciate is, that despite the fact that sounds, 3d-Modelling and texture work simply outclassed all other aircraft add-ons I own (and I own a lot), it’s not only eye and ear candy. It’s systems and flight modelling is at the same high standard. And last but not least it delivers a very good performance in terms of frame rates, at least on my system.

With a price of 34.95USD it costs even less than some other high fidelity aircraft models. It’s simply the best General Aviation aircraft available for X-Plane I’ve ever seen. Long story short: ‘Holy Shit!’ is just a perfect full review of this aircraft model.

You can get your copy of this magnificent bird for 34.95USD here: Link

Liveries

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System Specs

  • System: i7-4790@3.8GHz, 16GB RAM, NVIDIA GTX 1080-Ti, 3x 1TB SSD
  • X-Plane: Version 11.11r2 on two dedicated SSD in RAID 0 Mode
  • Plug-ins: NOAA Weather, SkyMaxx Pro with RealWeather Connector, TerraMaxx (Autumn)
  • Scenery: UHD Mesh v4, tdg ENAL Alesund Airport