DART-550 (Diamond Aircraft Reconnaissance Trainer) is the second variant of the DART series developed by Austrian aircraft manufacturer, Diamond Aircraft Industries.
DART series aircraft are intended for civilian and military pilot training, aerobatic, utility, and reconnaissance missions. The series was first introduced at the Farnborough Airshow 2014, while the first aircraft in the series, DART-450, made its maiden flight in May 2016.
The aircraft is designed primarily for aerobatic training purposes and is also available in multiple variants with varying power rating, avionics, and seat configuration.
The maiden flight of the DART-550 took place in May 2018 and the aircraft was first displayed to the public during the Farnborough Airshow 2018. First customer demonstration flights were made in April 2019, when Paraguay Air Force and the airforce of an undisclosed European country participated.
EASA certification process of the DART-550 is underway as of May 2019. The aircraft is expected to receive type certification by the first quarter of 2021.
DART-550 aerobatic trainer aircraft design and features
Built using carbon fibre materials, the DART-550 trainer features low-wing configuration with double-slotted wing flaps, which help attain maximum lift, low stalling speeds, and short-distance landings.
The wing leading edge is fitted with de-icing system to ensure uninterrupted flight during adverse weather conditions.
Wings are designed to accommodate large internal fuel tanks, which can support aircraft flight for eight hours. They are tested to withstand 0.65 Mach speeds in the wind tunnel.
Retractable tricycle landing gear is designed to absorb high impact and operate on unpaved surfaces.
The aerobatic trainer aircraft features electric control seats in tandem configuration with a bird strike-proof canopy. The seats are designed to provide enhanced comfort and an improved view.
The total wingspan of the aircraft is 11.79m, while its length is 9.75m and total height is 3.43m.
DART-550 cockpit and avionics
DART-550 features an advanced Garmin G3000 dual glass cockpit for the pilot and trainer in the front and rear.
Its avionics include 14.1in WXGA resolution primary flight display and multi-function display, 5.7in dual Garmin touchscreen controllers (GTCs) GTC 570, a pilot interface for flight display with infrared technology allowing the pilots to use gloves.
The Garmin G3000 system offers round-the-globe communication, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management (CNS / ATM), low flight warning using terrain awareness warning system (TAWS), and global automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) system.
The aircraft’s flight is controlled using the hands-on throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) system. A side-stick control system is fitted to enable manual control of the aircraft.
Other avionics systems can be fitted optionally based on customer and mission requirements.
The aircraft allows for the integration of high-resolution cameras to support multi-role operations.
Martin-Baker’s MK16 lightweight ejector seats are fitted in the aircraft to train pilots on basic flying skills and ejection techniques. The ejector seat provides quick escape when the aircraft is travelling at maximum velocity within certain parameters.
The MK16 ejection system is operated by cartridges powered by a rocket motor. The ejection is sequenced by the use of a gas-operated inter-seat sequencing system (ISS).
DART-550 engine and performance
The airframe of the DART-550 aerobic trainer aircraft is designed to accommodate a power plant with an output of 1,000hp. The aircraft is powered by General Electric GE H75-100 turboprop engine coupled to five-blade reversible MTV-5-1-E-C-F-R(P) MT propeller with feathering functionality.
The aircraft requires a take-off distance of 600m and landing roll of 400m. The maximum power required for take-off is 550hp, while the ceiling altitude is 7,600m. The power plant can produce 550hp of continuous power during level flight.
Fuel types such as Jet A-1, Jet A, TS-1, RT, No 3 jet fuel, and JP-8 can be used by the aircraft. The maximum usable fuel carried by the DART-550 is 826l and it has a flight endurance of more than eight hours.
The maximum take-off weight of the aircraft is 2,400kg, while its empty weight is 1,600kg. The top speed that it can fly at is 491km/h at 6,096m altitude.