Diamond Aircraft’s eDA40 is the result of several years’ worth of experimentation and testing of both hybrid and pure electric systems. The Austrian manufacturer is now poised to move forward with an electrified version of its DA40, a single-engine trainer aircraft that’s already certified. The eDA40’s twist is simple but practical: It plugs into DC fast-charging systems.
The charging apparatus is supplied by Electric Power systems, which develops certified systems for Aerospace, Defense, Automotive and Marine. The eDA40 will be the first electric plane that is Part 23 certified by the FAA and Europe’s aviation safety agency, EASA, with this charging option. That doesn’t mean you can land in the parking lot of your nearest big-box store and plug into one of the auto chargers. But in theory, you could.
Once you find a legal charging station at an airport, it won’t be a long stop. Diamond says the final version of the eDA40 will recharge in about 20 minutes and offer up to 90 minutes of flight time, thanks to its air-cooled Safran Engineus 100 electric motor, with an integrated controller, that creates a maximum of 130 kW.
Inside the eDA40 is seating for four with adjustable seat backs and lumbar support, electrically adjustable rudder pedals and electric air conditioning. The all-glass cockpit uses Garmin’s G1000 NXi flight deck and offers an optional GFC700 Automatic Flight Control System for safety, while the all-composite airframe doubles as a roll cage in the event of a mishap.
The company has a number of firsts to its credit, including the world’s first aircraft with a serial hybrid electric drive system, in 2011; a commercial version of serial hybrid electric drives two years later and, in 2018, the world’s first hybrid-electric multi-engine.
Flight testing for eDA40 is set to begin in the second quarter of 2022, with certification forecasted for 2024. Look for it in the sky, and don’t be too shocked if it shows up in your Walmart parking lot.