Diamond Fleet Bounces Back After Hail Event

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Diamond aircraft is using the outcome of an Oct. 17 hailstorm that ravaged Middle Tennessee State University's (MTSU's) 20 Diamond aircraft and 5 Pipers to tout the repairability of its composite airframes. Hail cracked one canopy during the storm and put two holes in composite wing skins while also pelting other airframes, including some metal ones, collected on the ramp at Murfreesboro Airport, Tenn. MTSU called in Diamond representatives to assess the damage and, according to MTSU's Dr. Wayne Dornan, "the metal aircraft are going to be AOG (aircraft on ground) for an extended period pending repairs, while the Diamond fleet is again fully operational." That outcome may be due in part to Diamond's response.

Diamond representatives arrived soon after the storm to assess damage and determined that all but four aircraft could be returned to service without repair. Most suffered mainly cosmetic damage. According to Diamond, three aircraft required repairs to wing skins and one suffered a cracked canopy.  According to Dornan, "The Diamond airframes suffered very little damage in comparison to the metal aircraft and the minimal structural damage that did occur was quickly repaired." Diamond uses low-temperature curing epoxy resin and a carbon matrix, as opposed to the high-temperature pre-preg composites used by many other composite aircraft manufacturers. The company says that difference in construction methods makes its aircraft "much easier" to inspect and repair in the field.