• Review: Alabeo - DA40 for X-Plane

    Diamond DA40

    Publisher: Alabeo

    Review Author:
    Shawn Weigelt

    Suggested Price:
    $26.95

    Buy Here

    Introduction

    The aviation world is constantly evolving and improving. Within the past couple of decades or so, great technological strides have been made with the development of advanced polymer and composite materials used in airplane construction. Aircraft fuselages, wings, and control surfaces can now be molded out of single pieces of fiberglass, polymer, or carbon fiber rather than with sheets of aluminum riveted together as in ages past. The use of such modern materials in airplane construction not only reduces the number of parts required to construct an aircraft, but also often make them lighter, stronger, and more flexible. Further, smooth, streamlined shapes once impossible to create through metal or rag-and-tube construction methods are now fashioned into wonderfully sleek, aerodynamically clean forms that can dramatically increase the speed and efficiency of airplanes.

    Alabeo Diamond DA40     Alabeo Diamond DA40     Alabeo Diamond DA40

    The Austrian company Diamond Aircraft has become a general aviation industry leader with their manufacture of several types of GA airplanes, all of them built with modern composite construction.

    Diamond's DA40 was the company's four-place, single engine piston entry into the certified GA market. Based upon the company's two-seat trainer, the DA20, the four-seat DA40 was first flown in 1997. Diamond manufactured the DA40 in basically three versions: the Lycoming IO-360 powered DA40 with a constant speed prop, the diesel powered DA40D, and the fixed pitch propeller Lycoming O-360 powered DA40F. The constant speed, IO-360 powered variant is by far the most popular and has been increasingly improved upon through its development over the years.

    Alabeo has chosen a relatively early example of a constant speed, IO-360 powered Diamond DA40 as their latest offering for X-Plane 10. Based mostly upon the conventional "steam" gauges in the cockpit, I would surmise that Alabeo has designed their DA40 after a real airplane of a 2002 or 2003 manufacture. Beginning in 2004, Diamond Aircraft began offering the DA40 with the Garmin G1000 avionics suite, which is now standard equipment on all DA40's.

    The sporty looking Diamond DA40 is a talented airplane with confidence inducing handling qualities, respectable cruise speed, and great fuel economy. It is also known as a very safe airplane as both the DA40 and Diamond's entire aircraft lineup in general has earned an impressive safety record over the years. These factors have not only endeared the DA40 to private owners, but also with flight schools as a four-place training alternative to Cessna 172's and Piper Archers. DA40 pilots love the aircraft's fighter-pilot-like canopy, which provides outstanding visibility free from the neck-craning encumbrance of the forward structural pillars found in most of the old-guard metal airplanes. Also popular is the center stick not commonly found on light GA singles such as this, which only enhances the airplane's fighter-jock appeal.

    Alabeo Diamond DA40     Alabeo Diamond DA40     Alabeo Diamond DA40

    While not normally a big fan of the new generation "plastic" airplanes, I admit that I have a soft spot for the various Diamond airplanes and think they offer a significant advantage over Cirrus, Columbia, and Lancair airplanes (to name a few) in terms of safety, style, and efficiency. I don't know, maybe a little of that's my small piece of Austrian ancestry talking!

    Whenever I write an airplane review for FlightSim.Com my goals are twofold: first, to objectively gauge the fidelity of the aircraft model being reviewed as compared to its real world counterpart, and second, to provide my subjective opinion of whether or not I think the file would constitute a good value and worthwhile purchase for a sim pilot looking to pick up a new plane. Does Alabeo's latest offering measure up to these criteria? Let's find out!

    Sights And Sounds

    At first blush Alabeo's rendition of the DA40 looks unsurprisingly amazing. Let's face it, Alabeo and their sister company Carenado, have built a pretty impressive business through accurately modeling and texturing the finest private and corporate aircraft out there. Perhaps ironically, however, I found that the more I examined the intricate details modeled into this file, the more I began to detect several subtle errors that, frankly, left me a little disappointed with it.

    Alabeo Diamond DA40     Alabeo Diamond DA40     Alabeo Diamond DA40

    Once I had the airplane loaded in X-Plane 10.31 (the file is only available for version 10.30 or higher) I quickly switched to an exterior view and began panning my virtual camera around the airplane to drink in its sleek lines and smooth shiny surfaces. The DA40 is a fantastic looking airplane (at least to my eye) and, as I've already mentioned, Alabeo's model looks generally very good. I did have a bit of a stutter with my frames initially while examining the exterior reinforcing the fact that all the nice textures and visual details come at a cost in terms of frames per second. Most of my older Alabeo and Carenado files run a little more smoothly at the same airport (my KOLM World Editor build) and with identical rendering and weather settings.

    Tags: alabeo, da40, diamond

    3 Comments
    1. bcrane's Avatar
      bcrane -
      Excellent write up! Thanks for the detailed, honest, concise review. As an application developer and a student pilot, I find I'm also very picky when it comes to addon performance and flight model vs. the real thing (The Carenado C172 is one such plane which I have tweaked extensively to as closely as possible match the real-world C172 in which I train. Mainly, the flaps add far too much drag, and far too little lift, especially at 30° or more, when compared to the real thing).

      Unfortunately, as you discovered, X-Plane doesn't accurately or properly model wing stalls (FSX/P3D fail at this also for that matter, so I won't dock Laminar too much for this...), so I'm not surprised the DA40 didn't perform in stalls as you had hoped it would. Regardless, and all graphical/3D modelling inaccuracies aside, it sounds as if Alabeo have produced yet another high-quality GA addon that I'll be picking up soon.

      Thanks again for your detailed review!

      Regards,
      bcrane
    1. LowTransition's Avatar
      LowTransition -
      Thanks for the nice comments! Feel free to PM me those C172 modifications sometime!
    1. Meteor FL.54's Avatar
      Meteor FL.54 -
      The problem for the wing drop in a stall is x-planes still incorrect simulation of torque/slipstream.
      http://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?...c=51251&page=2
      This is one of the items why x-plane is still a no go for me.
      BTW, the 'parachute' mode works in the FSX version...
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