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Aerial OP

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  • #16
    Are the Cessnas not the Air Corps' aerial OPs, in the tradition of the British Auster and the US Bird Dog? A lot cheaper than a helicopter. Of course a UAV is better in many respects, and a helicopter can do lots of other things too, but if you haven't got and/or can't afford these....

    Maybe the Diamond DA-42 MPP is a cost-effective alternative? (possible Cessna replacement?) 12 hours endurance, all-weather capability, day/night sensors, incl. laser rangefinder, real-time datalink to ground station, all for a fraction of the cost of a helicopter.


    • #17
      At the risk of sounding facetious
      Originally posted by easyrider View Post
      12 hours endurance, all-weather capability, day/night sensors, incl. laser rangefinder, real-time datalink to ground station, all for a fraction of the cost of a helicopter.
      Pick two out of the seven.
      Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead


      • #18
        Should we have kept the marchettis and used them for COIN in Chad??
        There is no problem that cannot be fixed with high explosive.


        • #19
          Originally posted by Victor View Post
          At the risk of sounding facetious Pick two out of the seven.
          Why not have them all?


          • #20
            I suspect they wouldn't all fit at the same time.
            Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead


            • #21
              Originally posted by Victor View Post
              I suspect they wouldn't all fit at the same time.
              Oh ye of little faith....


              "Operation Pegasus, carried out on May 8, 2008 by Diamond Airborne Sensing, has proven that the DA42 MPP is suitable for prolonged missions to remote sites. The law-enforcement configuration of the DA42 MPP, equipped with a gyro-stabilised daylight and thermal video camera, a SCOTTY beyond line-of-sight satcom system, and a Wood & Douglas line-of-sight downlink system, took off from Vienna's Neustadt - Ost airfield at 7:00 am local time. The crew then patrolled the European Union's former external border with Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic twice, only to land at the point of departure 13 hours and 40 minutes later, at 08:40 pm.

              Live video sequences of the border area were regularly transmitted to a ground station via the satcom system during the entire flight. There were no problems whatsoever with air-to-ground and ground-to-air communications. While within range, the line-of-sight system was also used to transmit a continuous video stream.

              Immediately after landing, the DA42 MPP's tank was filled up with 63.4 US gallons (240 liters) of jet fuel until reaching its maximum tank capacity of 76.4 US gallons (290 liters). This proved the accuracy of the fuel meter and flight management system which had indicated a remaining 13 US gallons (50 liters) on board. At a power setting of Minimum Loitering Speed (40%, 76 kts) the plane could have remained airborne for another two hours. This means a revolutionary fuel efficiency of approximately 2.43 US gallons (9.2 liters) an hour per engine. The DA42 MPP can easily be deployed on long missions in remote destinations."

              What about 'facilities' for the crew?

              Have a look at the last page of this also:

              The price of a standard DA42 is around €300,000. Add another €200,000 for the sensors and comms? And of course the operating costs are so low.... Seems like a very cost-effective alternative, especially in these days of cutbacks and high fuel costs.

              Latest customer for this aircraft is Niger, which borders Chad to the west.
              Last edited by easyrider; 22 July 2008, 12:17.


              • #22
                I wouldn't buy anything with a Theilert engine right now if I had a gun put to my head. If you're not familiar with their situation it. Other than that not a bad plane but much more suited to the customs/border patrol type role you described earlier.


                • #23
                  Yes, I read about Thielert. They're still making and selling engines. It seems to be a financial problem - classic situation of a rapidly growing company not managing their cash flow. I don't know how it will pan out, but it doesn't seem likely that Diamond will disappear as a result. And fuel-efficient diesel engines look like the future for General Aviation.


                  • #24
                    The implications for owners have been huge. Warranties have been voided in many cases. Unfortunately for Diamond, this has affected their reputation too and will impact sales. There is a 172 based at Shannon with the above manufacturer's engine. They do require periodic major component replacement and while they are fuel efficient they do have higher maintenance costs which are significantly higher than your standard 100LL burning engine. Gearboxes need replacement every 300 hours and the entire engine has to be removed and sent back to the manufacturer at 1200 hours. Not good economics for aircraft that will be used heavily.
                    A standard avgas engine has a life of 2000 hours.

                    In fact if you want to see a detailed comparison of a Thielert 2.0 versus the similarly sized Lycoming IO-360 visit:


                    The basic breakdown if you dont want to read it is as follows:


                    Maintenance cost per hour(USD): $75.53
                    Total hourly with fuel: $101.03


                    Hourly engine (2000 hours basis) $19.08
                    Total hourly with fuel: $59.58

                    Yes the Theilert burns less fuel but you're going to pay much more for the maintenance. So as regards the Diamond as an option, I would forget about it until two things happen:

                    1. The engine manufacturer's situation stabilizes and the EARN a reputation for solid after sales support.

                    2. The technology matures by at least 5-10 years and is in much more widespread use with longer service intervals allowing fuel savings to actually count for something.


                    • #25
                      Fuel figure looks a bit light for the Lycoming.

                      Average 170kt twin will have a 6 cylinder Lycoming burning about 12 USG per hour. Thats 45Ltrs at a current European price of about €2.40 a litre. i.e. €109 per hour in fuel alone! A twin will burn twice that i.e €218 per hour in fuel alone.
                      DA42 burns approx 12.5 USG Jet A total per hour. Thats 47 litres at €1.60 or €75 per hour total!

                      The difference in fuel alone for a comparable AVGAS twin in Europe is in the region of €140 per Hour!

                      I certainly wont argue the problems with the current Thielert situation but you also quote 2000 hrs TBO for the Lycoming and 1200 hrs for the Thielert yet fail to mention that Diamond did warranty the engine to 2400Hrs. I.e if replaced before 2400hrs it is at no cost to the customer.
                      What will be interesting will be to see the new Diamond produced 2.0ltr Diesel.


                      • #26
                        Sorry was a late night post and didn't have time (or the will!!) to do a european comparison. 2.40 is correct but I know an organisation that bought a bulk amount for 2.10 and I'm assuming the Air Corps would do the same, along with the fact that they are probably exempt from excise.

                        At 2.10 that narrows the difference to €114 per hour including excise(probably not applicable). The maintenance costs for a DA42 are €70 per hour higher. The difference is now only €40/hour.

                        You are quite correct in stating that the warranty is 2400 hours, but the engine must be completely removed at 1200 and sent back to the manufacturer. Your options then would be to either completely remove the aircraft from service for the duration of the inspection, I dont know the exact figure but I can tell you it would be at least a month, or carry spare engines in stock. I would personally wait until the engines get certification for higher inspection intervals.

                        I'm not saying it's a bad idea, I'm just advocating letting the technology mature.


                        • #27
                          I agree with waiting for maturity but it is common practice to have warrantied TBOs even though it doesnt cover the implyed down time for the aircraft.

                          When the 139 was purchased its gearbox only had a projected and warranted TBO of 5000hrs but an actual TBO of somewhere around 2000hrs. Not sure what the situation is now.


                          • #28
                            Hi there
                            2000 hrs is still a lot of hours, whatever way you look at it.Even if you have a busy 139, that's still 4 or 5 years worth before overhaul, which is fine for a new model of gearbox.


                            • #29
                              Just pointing out that the DF have in the past purchased aircraft with warrantied Vs actual TBOs


                              • #30
                                The RAF have acquired a couple of Diamond DA42MPPs for surveillance work, possibly to replace Nimrods in Afghanistan. That should save a few bob....