After a much-anticipated wait, this video we premier what is most likely to be one of the first Diamond DA40’s in Europe sporting a fully approved ASPEN Evolution 2000 MAX, fully supplemented with a twin state-of-the-art Garmin GTN 650Xi Touchscreen Flight Navigator, fully approved for EGNOS, PBN & LPV approaches.
In addition, a Bluetooth capable audio panel called GMA 345 has been installed which has new features such as audio playback and 3D audio. Stay tuned for many more fun flying adventures!
The Journey so far…
I have flown a Diamond Star DA40 D – G-ZANY, based at Stapleford Aerodrome, Essex, UK for the last 3 years. Journeys down to the Cornish coast where it meets the strength of the Atlantic Ocean to International flights to France. It’s been far a highly memorable experience and strengthened my flying skills to another level.
The Diamond DA40 Diamond Star is an Austrian four-seat, single-engine, light aircraft constructed from composite materials. With excellent cruise speed and long-range tanks, it provides excellent touring capability. The aircraft featured an impressive IFR specification with a twin Garmin 430 GPS, Slaved HSI, VOR, ADF, DME, Stormscope, and Autopilot with Altitude Pre Select and much more.
At the turn of the new decade everyone was informed the aircraft was going to Belgium for an extremely exciting upgrade to it’s avionics package. Little was known at this point, other than the aircraft which had just had a prop overhaul and many other aspects fully serviced.
I flew the aircraft back from Bournemouth in some of the most interesting weather I have ever flown in. My venture for completing my Instrument Rating was getting closer, with many of the first exams passed. It was game on for a Summer Completion of the IR and many European tours to come, or was it?
The ASPEN EFIS
The ASPEN features a powerful, award-winning Pro MAX PFD and MFD1000 MAX. Both The Evolution™ 2000 MAX and the MFD1000 MAX combines to provide the safety and confidence of PFD redundancy. allowing the total glass cockpit experience with both easy-to-use and affordable technology.
Pro MAX PFD Features:
- GPS-aided AHRS in the event of pitot-static failure
- Font and window enlargement capable Airspeed and altitude tapes
- Altitude alerter (and separate approach minimums alerting)
- Full electronic HSI with dual bearing pointers
- Base map with flight plan legs and waypoints, curved flight paths, and nearby navaids
- Built-in GPS steering
- Display of real-time winds aloft, OAT, TAS, and ground speed
- Integral Air Data Computer and Attitude Heading Reference System (AHRS)
MFD1000 MAX Features:
- Duplicate sensor set providing PFD redundancy on MFD if PFD fails
- Allows removal of redundant mechanical backup instruments
- Secondary HSI Chart and countdown timers Height above ground level (AGL) on navigation and terrain maps
- High resolution moving maps with hazard display overlays such as Stormscope
- Customisable screen layouts Font enlargement Charts and geo-referenced airport diagrams
The touchscreen Flight Navigator
In January 2020 Garmin released the newest update of it’s GTN650, the GTN650Xi. proposing to enhance the ease of use with faster, modern hardware. Pairing with the ASPEN EFIS, the latest GTN model from Garmin sports advanced navigation features, such as approaches that incorporate radius-to-fix (RF) leg types, as well as the option to add a published or custom holding procedure, VNAV, terrain alerting and graphical flight plan editing on the moving map.
The high resolution mutli-function display supports moving maps, terrain, stormcope and a future of much interfaceable upgrades such as traffic, weather and airport diagrams. The 4.9 inch touch screen display allows you to select a wide range of approaches from from visual glidepaths to LPV, RNAV, ILS and more. The kit has a WAAS/SBAS-certified GPS enabling GPS-guided LPV glidepath approaches down to ILS-comparable minimums as low as 200’.
With auto-assist entry allowing frequencies to be pre-loaded automatically and the creation of IFR patterns, allowing easy execution of holding patterns over a published or user-defined waypoint this aircraft has the feel of an airliner. With the ability to add a flight stream, ADS-B traffic, weather, and a connected cockpit in the future. Some future proof for the ultimate flying machine for touring the airways is now beautifully available.
High Definition Audio
The aircraft is now fitted with a Bluetooth® Audio Panel allowing quality sound using top-end Garmin audio technology for a superior in-flight audio experience. This connectivity allows easy access to phone calls and audio entertainment. Featuring 3-D spatial sound processing, a USB charging port, marker beacon receiver, advanced Auto Squelch, clearance playback and impressive audio mixing and distribution features, this all-digital unit offers the ideal blend of capabilities for pilots who want to hear and do more with less effort in the cockpit.
You can view more on the GMA345 on the Garmin YouTube channel.
The aircraft has had a range of USB charging points to the panel for pilot convenience. This allows for a range of EFB’s or portable traffic systems to be fitted for flight. Such as an iPad or uAvionix SkyEcho…
COVID-19 & the EASA IR
After all these exciting upgrades had been planned, the aircraft flew to Belgium on the 1st of March 2020. Little did anyone really know the scale of the events unfolding around the globe. COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020.
The UK went into lock-down on the 23rd March 2020, under a stay-at-home order. The aircraft continued to receive as planned it’s upgrading and flew two test flights in the second week of April 2020. However due to the complexity and probably the first for a DA40D under EASA-land, and largely in parallel to the COVID-19 restrictions, the aircraft did not receive its final approvals till the end of July 2020.
By this point, I was well out of currency and had been busy practicing for the last few examinations of the CB-IR course. Sadly due to the pandemic and the impossibility to study whilst working a full-time job, the last two examinations have become incredibly difficult. The plan is to finish the examinations by year-end and commence the flight training as soon as the 0°C (zero-degree) isotherm returns north of FL90 in 2021.
However, the late summer flying season, the autumn and any mild winter provides a perfect pre-training ground to completing the ATO course in the minimal amount of time.
Getting back Flying
The aircraft was back less than a week and I finally got my turn to fly, in what felt like a brand new aircraft. As of writing, I’ve flown 10 hours in the aircraft since she returned from Belgium, flying to Cardiff, Wales; Bembridge, Isle of Wight, and completing many ILS approaches at Lydd, Southend, and Southampton.
Oversight & YouTube –
I hope the route I am taking is going to make me a better pilot and to share with you all the new skills that I hope to learn. Whilst this will be a long road to having the Instrument Rating; I hope I can provide you with an oversight of my progression and as I develop my skillset and airmanship in exclusive videos on my YouTube channel.
I hope to share with you guys in a unique editorial style with me breaking down thoroughly and honestly everything that went wrong from pre-flight, to landing to debrief, what I have learned from it and what steps I am putting in place to make me a safer pilot in the future. I’ll be using the reference material above along with Standards Document 01 (A) to assist in my endeavors.
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