SR20 versus Diamond DA40

Those of you trying to decide between buying an SR20 and a Diamond DA40 might be interested to read my little write-up at

(I ended up buying the Diamond because I’m a very inexperienced pilot, my training was in a Diamond DA20, and I’m hooked on the superior visibility of Diamond aircraft. I’ve had the plane now for only about three calendar weeks and 30 flight hours but it seems to be very well made. My only real problem was a bad spark plug at 30 tach hours.)

Oh yes, I’ll be flying from Boston to Alaska and back June 3-October 15 so if you see 505WT or hear ATC trying to figure out what to call it (I usually say “Katana 505WT” to avoid a discussion and because nobody knows what a “Diamond Star” is), that will be me and the dog…

I’m sure you’re going to be very happy with the DA40. I was on the brink of buying one 1 year ago, but when I got my checkbook out they admitted the Austrian built planes (all they had then) weren’t going to have autopilots.

Diamond Aviation of San Carlos, CA (no corporate relationship) has just put a DA40 on their rental line, and it looks like a superb IFR trainer / time builder. One surprise today; I was going to tag along on a checkout, but when we ran the W&B we found that with full tanks, three trim but tall guys and our flight bags that we’d have to burn out 50 pounds of fuel before landing. I begged off the flight since they wanted to do touch&go’s. One factor in the limited useful load seems to be this airplane came in 85 pounds heavier than the sample plane in the POH.

By the way, the W&B was challenging for us gringos since all the data in the POH is in metric (and it was a “Mass and Balance”, technically a more correct description).

I flew one last year, and it does fly just like a big Katana, which means lots of fun. And the guys who picked up the plane got a sneak peak at some of the new projects Diamond has coming up. If they deliver on those like they seem to have on the DA40 then Diamond is going to become a big force in trainer aircraft.


I’ve been doing a fly off in search of a new aircraft and recently had the pleasure of flying a DA-40.

I would agree with the comments on these planes flying qualities. It was light and simple, climbed well and cruised at close to what was expected. Had great stall characteristics and made me look good on landing. I had never flown a Katana so I can’t compare.

On the down side, and in the end deal killers. It’s a small plane. Plenty of room if your training. No where near enough if your taking more than two people and stuff. The stick is fun for a pilot, impossible for the wife passenger. Seats that do not adjust, I can imagine a long flight becoming a tiring experience.

Diamond looks like a good company and they’ve built a nice product. Plus, the more new planes flying, the better.

I noticed the same thing. Nearly 100 lbs. of useful load seem to have vanished in between the brochure printing and the airplane making! I’m also not sure that I’ll ever see 147 knots TAS in my plane. Maybe 140.

I flew an Austrian-built demonstrator and it had a KAP-140 autopilot, same as my plane. I’ve never flown with an autopilot before but I’m not fully sold on the idea. The KAP-140 seems awfully happy to disengage either in turbulence or if you touch the stick to key the microphone. For $25,000 I’d expect the unit to hang in there a bit. It is also kind of stupid. I pressed the “temp disconnect” switch on the stick and maneuvered the plane around a bit before giving it back to the KAP-140. Apparently I’d pitched the nose up a fair amount and/or gotten into a thermal (was a turbulent day) in addition to the turn that I had intended. The KAP-140 concluded that what I wanted was a 1000 fpm climb and proceeded to pitch the nose up as far as possible. It would have been delighted to stall and then spin my DA40, not disturbed by a plummeting airspeed. I disengaged it but recovering the aircraft wasn’t trivial due to the fact that we were now wildly out of trim

The Garmins and the autopilot are sort of impressive in theory but in practice I think they require a copilot to operate safely. I used to laugh at my crusty 9000-hour 62-year-old instructor when he told me that I had to learn to fly the plane without any of these crutches because they would all fail or prove useless in certain conditions. But after only about 35 hours in my fancy modern airplane I think I’ve learned what he was talking about.

The Garmins and the autopilot are sort of impressive in theory but in practice I think they require a copilot to operate safely.


I think you’ll find after a short while that the Garmins become second nature to use. That’s certainly been my experience with our SR20. But on the other hand, so many people will want to fly in your DA40 that you’ll almost always have a co-pilot!

Alternatively, you can teach to operate the Garmins. He certainly looks intelligent enough!

I agree that Diamond is doing an excellent job of creating a natural “step-up” path for pilots who learn to fly in Katanas. Brand loyalty is a powerful thing (as you can see from all of us Cirrus devotees).


I> think you’ll find after a short while that the Garmins

become second nature to use. That’s certainly been my
experience with our SR20. But on the other hand, so many
people will want to fly in your DA40 that you’ll almost
always have a co-pilot!

This is so true! If I’d bought a ragged-out C172 I"d have to pay flight instructors $45/hour to come ride with me (that’s what schools here in Boston get for “owner’s plane” instruction). But every ATP and CFII wants to ride in the DA40. I bet that I could go to any airport in the country and get a free hour or two of dual. Probably the same with the SR20.

A lot of crusty old grumblers threw rocks at me for buying a $230,000 airplane as a 100-hour know-nothing. But I think a new airplane is perfect for a novice because we don’t have to exercise too much judgement as to when things are “broken but not so broken as to be unsafe” and because expert pilots are always willing to come along in the right seat.


p.s. is the plane that Diamond showed at the Berlin Air Show. Same fuselage as my DA40, more or less, but twin diesel engines with a single power lever and autofeathering props. They’re claiming 168 knots cruising on 7.8 gallons per hour. The plane has retractable gear but a guy at Diamond mentioned that they might make a fixed-gear version if there is demand for one.

(In case you’re wondering, the diesel engines are derived from Mercedes car diesel engines. Diamond has beenflying a DA40 around for about 6 months in Austria with one of these and it seems to work okay.)

Diamond are also offering a single-engine Diesel (I think they call it the DA40tdi or something like that). A friend has ordered one and we plan to fly it from England to Australia next May (which will be a record flight for a single-engined Diesel aircraft). It only cruises about 135 knots, but has a better payload than the SR20, and longer range. No big screen or parachute though.

FYI, for east coasters, I understand that Bay Airport (right across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from Annapolis, MD) also has one or more DA40’s for rent.

Having trained in a DA20 several years ago, I think the Diamonds are a real hoot to fly and hard to get into trouble with. Two minor regrets about the DA40…would like to see 20 more knots cruise, and the baggage area is mighty small and awkward due to the DA40’s empannage design (skinny!).

Twin-diesel composite airplanes? Airplanes with parachutes and cupholders? Vacuum systems gone the way of venturis, airway beacons, and A-N ranges? No doubt about it — these are exciting times for general aviation! What’s most impressive is the variety of clean-sheet designs being introduced. I can just imagine a scene at Oshkosh circa 2050: “Yep, sonny, I can remember when most airryplanes were made outta that al-yoo-minni-um stuff and were held together by rivets, by gum! Now let’s go see that restored 2002 Cessna 172 in the ‘Last Gasp Classic’ category.”

Clyde, your trip sounds magnificent! We’re looking forward to hearing about your adventures. Presumably you’ll be able to beat the time that Airways advertised for the route in 1935 (see below).

Let me know if I can help with flight planning through Greece.
Jet-A is EUR 0.50 per liter and around EUR 0.30 for transits…
Happy planning


On your way ,you and your friend could probably stop at our airport , WSSL/Seletar in Singapore. You are most welcome. I think our club members would love to see the diesel engine katana. We intend to convert our 2 TB9 with Thielert engines and maybe buy a da 40 TDI. Jet A1 is one third of the price of avgas in Singapore. I will be in Archerfield from mid Aug to train and pick up VH-LZY SR22 pos. 0281delivered Duluth mid July.

Jean Jacques /Singapore flying club

Actually, we’re not going to attempt to beat that time. We plan to build in rest/sightseeing days along the way (which will also serve as buffers to allow for delays, since several of the countries through which we will fly will require advance permission, with windows as small as 24 hours in some cases).

As a matter of fact, Diamond Aircraft just recently unveiled a twin diesel version of the DA40. The Thielert engine by the way is a Mercedes A170 common rail auto engine. The twin is supposed to make about 180 kts with lower operating costs than a cheap single. They will offer a glass cockpit with big screens developed by an Austrian company which I could not find on the internet.
Diamond Aircraft is definitely a company to watch as their product offering is more complete than Cirrus’. Step up progams are very important in this business. The still missing chute won’t be an issue for much longer since I heard that Diamond is doing something in this regard.

Hope this helps,


Sounds wonderful! I imagine that the planning (which I’m sure will keep you occupied for the next 12 months) will be almost as much fun as the trip itself.


Bay Bridge Airport is now being used by the Naval Academy for primary flight training with their midshipmen. I DO believe they are using the DA40 for training.

I think the Diamonds are a real hoot to fly and hard to get into trouble with. Two minor regrets about the DA40…would like to see 20 more knots cruise, and the baggage area is mighty small and awkward due to the DA40’s empennage design (skinny!).


There’s a simple fix for that… a Cirrus SR20! (Also a major-league hoot to fly.)


Jean, thanks for the invite - Seletar is indeed one of our planned stops.

Are you picking up the SR22 in August this year? My SR20 is based at Archerfield, so I would be very happy to meet up with you when you come here. Email me direct - - and we can organize something.


I’ve heard that Diamond is positioning the Twin as an alternate to the SR22 with a chute . Price is supposed to be about $350k.

As to the DA 40 vs the SR20, I think the 20 wins based on payload and comfort. Though just based on fun and ease of flying the DA40 is very impressive for somone used to a Katana or a 172.

Actually now that I’m seeing people prepare for IFR training in the DA40, the stick is proving slightly problematic. In spamcans, people generally put approach plates on the yoke. In the Cirrus, either people have added a clip under the airvent, or use a lap desk. The DA40 is still looking for a solution, as the panel is too busy for the clip and the stick would rise up right through the lapdesk. Anyone remember Rod Machado’s cartoon of the IFR Warrior, covered head-to-toe in kneeboards?


I heard that Diamond is considering an ad that shows an SR22 descending on a parachute, with a DA42 flying past it with one prop feathered. The caption: “You choose!”

The real question on the viability of the DA42 beyond the training market is the single engine climb performance. With a 3600pound max gross and only 135hp it seems dicey. Diamond hasn’t published any single engine figures yet.