Diamond Introduces DA40 XLT for 2013

Latest DiamondStar brings wealth of cockpit refinements.

Diamond DA40

Diamond DA40

Diamond Aircraft introduced a new version of its DA40 piston single that brings a number of welcome improvements to the cockpit. The DA40 XLT model for 2013 features wider front seats, air conditioning, burl-wood and carbon-fiber trim accents and other improvements that elevate the Austrian-designed four seater into a luxury cruiser.

Not only are the new seats in the DA40 wider and more comfortable, they also incorporate “infrared control technology” in the seat material, a technology pioneered by BMW in its convertibles that can reduce seat temperature by almost 70 degrees in summer. We tried the seats at Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, Florida, and can confirm the leather stays comfortable even in the hot afternoon sun.

Diamond is now also offering Cabin Cool air conditioning, a smart addition to an airplane that incorporates a large canopy that can quickly make the cabin uncomfortably hot during taxi. The DA40 XLT also receives a pair of Rosen sun shades, an addition that customers have long asked for.

There are lots of little extras in the latest DiamondStar that buyers are sure to like, including additional cupholders, a pocket near the pilot’s leg that’s perfect for an iPad mini, and subtle ergonomic changes that streamline the cockpit and make it a more pilot-friendly workspace. The result of Diamond’s efforts is an airplane that will likely appeal to upscale buyers who appreciate the high-end look and feel of the latest iterations of the Cirrus SR22 and Cessna Corvalis.

The XLT still isn’t quite on par with the fit and finish of the G5 Cirrus, nor does it offer the SR22’s speed and payload capabilities, but the Diamond is also quite a bit less expensive to buy, with a price of around $420,000, and more fuel efficient thanks to its 180 hp four-cylinder Lycoming IO-360 engine.

For pilots looking for a more economical way to fly, Diamond dealers are rolling out the recently launched DiamondShare program to more locations. The concept allows a buyer of a new DA40 XLS or XLT to eliminate his monthly payments by sharing time in the airplane with two or three DiamondShare members. The members pay $999 a month plus fuel for 100 hours of flying per year, a fee that includes all maintenance, database updates, insurance and more.

Diamond still has some DA40 XLS models in its inventory as it shifts to XLT production. At the factory in London, Ontario, Diamond has hired back about two dozen workers after laying off most of the 220-person workforce there earlier this year. The layoffs came after promised financing from Middle East investors never materialized. Diamond officials stress the company isn't on the verge of bankruptcy, and is continuing aircraft production. The fate of the D-Jet, a single-engine VLJ the company has been working on for several years, is less certain.