Diamond Aircraft, which announced plans to build an electric-powered DA40 composite airplane last October, has signed an agreement with Safran Electrical & Power to provide the electric motor system for the eDA40.
“We still have to do a lot of evaluation and development,” said Diamond CEO Frank Zhang at the Aero Friedrichshafen air show in Germany. He anticipates the first flight by the end of 2022 and basic EASA certification by the end of 2023 or early 2024.
Safran’s EngineUs electric motor will provide the eDA40 with 130 kW takeoff power. The motor is equipped with an integrated motor controller system, and thermal management is via air cooling. Safran anticipates certification of the electric motor in mid-2023. It will be powered by an Electric Power Systems battery. A DC fast-charging system will replenish the eDA40’s batteries in less than 20 minutes.
Compared to the existing piston engine DA40, Zhang said, “We expect operating costs 40 percent lower.” Endurance will be about 90 minutes, and the eDA40 will be marketed as a flight trainer and be equipped with Garmin G1000 NXi avionics.
Meanwhile, Diamond’s current product lineup is growing rapidly. Since China’s Wanfeng acquired Diamond Aircraft Group in 2017, deliveries of all of its aircraft models have grown rapidly. The company even resumed production of the two-seat DA20-C1, which is now selling at the rate of 20/year. In 2017 the company delivered 137 airplanes, and that grew to 240 in 2021. This year, the total should reach 300, according to Zhang, and he forecasts that to grow to 400 in 2023 and 500 in 2024. Sales are already booked for production through 2023, he added. “General aviation, even after Covid, has really recovered.”
In China, Diamond has opened a new production facility in Qingdao. With manufacturing capacity maxing out at its Austria and Canada locations, Diamond is building complete DA40 airframes in China and shipping them to Canada for final assembly. In China, the company is building airplanes for local markets, predominately training fleets, under a Chinese production certificate.