Diamond Unveils Turboprop Single At Aero

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As the 21st Aero opens in Friedrichshafen, Germany, an early peek by AVweb on Tuesday suggests there will be plenty new to look at and even some surprises. At the top of a list is a new turboprop from Diamond called the DA50 Turbine, some new models from established Italian aircraft maker Tecnam and a surprise flying appearance by Pipistrel's sleek Panthera retractable single, which proved to be the hit of Aero last year. We didn't expect to see it here this year, but Pipistrel has done sufficient flight testing and felt confident enough to bring it into the show.

Diamond CEO Christian Dries gave a quick tour of the DA50 Turbine, a beefy looking single turboprop that capitalizes on the fuselage design used first in a piston version proposed a few years ago and now finding application in the DA52 diesel twin. The DA50, which Dries says hasn't flown yet and is just entering the proof of concept phase, is powered by a 450-HP AI-450S turboshaft engine built by the Ukrainian company Motor Sich JSC. When the Soviet Union still existed, Motor Sich built engines for the prodigious Mil line of military helicopters and the An-124 commercial transport. Dries said the company has entered into an agreement to develop markets for western application of the engines and that the initial focus, if the project comes together, will be a heavy hauling aircraft for unimproved airports in Russia. Dries said a mid-altitude high-speed cruiser version might be pitched to western buyers, with cruise altitudes typically in the high teens. The aircraft would not be pressurized.

Tecnam will also be revealing two new models, the single-place aerobatic Snap! design, which is intended as an aerobatic LSA, and another new 600-kg LSA called the Astore, which appears to be a high-wing design similar to the company's P2008. Also on display is the P2010 which, for lack of a better description, is really a modernized Cessna 172, with slightly better performance and an inexpensive glass cockpit. We'll have video reports on these aircraft and others as our show coverage unfolds this week.

Also, we'll be reporting on increasing presence of North American-based companies at Aero this year, including new appearances by Superior and Eclipse and expanded efforts from both Cirrus and Cessna. Luann Alesio, who represents Aero in North America, reports that participation by U.S. companies is on the rise, with more than 40 represented this year. Attendance at Aero is typically in the 30,000 to 35,000 range, with participants from all over the world, many of who come ready to buy or order aircraft. Continental Motors' Michael Gifford said Aero has become one of the company's strongest shows for vendor-to-vendor contacts.