At first I struggled when writing this review. The writing process went through two distinct phases.
In the first phase I was very disappointed and my review was ready in a matter of days. In the second phase I had fun and eventually took my time with the product and came to a more balanced view of the product.
Only late in the process I realized what caused my initial disappointment, and it was the marketing of the product. The site claims: “For those that are student pilots and lovers of modern, new, fresh looking, sleek General Aviation aircraft, this might be for you.” It also claims “High resolution textures for extreme detail of interior, panel and fuselage”.
With these claims, Lionheart Creations creates an anticipation that this product is comparable with the Aerosoft DA20 with full systems and fault modules being available or the Carenado HD series.
In my opinion the product is not comparable with those products and should be marketed as a lite product. Expectations would then be realistic when buying the product and no false expectations would be planted in the mind of the prospective buyer.
All of the above is to explain why this review will look at the DA40XLS as a lite product and why it will not compare the DA40XLS with the DA20 from Aerosoft.
The Diamond DA40XLS is one of the two current production versions of the DA40 4 person aircraft from Diamond Aircraft Industries. The other production version is the more basic DA40CS.
The DA40 is a 4 person GA plane based on the 2 person DA20 training and GA plane from the same manufacturer. The DA40 first flew in 1997 and is built in Austria and Canada.
The plane is built from composite materials. The XLS is the Deluxe version of the plane with a Powerflow tuned exhaust, WAAS-capable G1000, GDL69 datalink, and Traffic Alert System. It also has a three bladed composite prop. This is the version modelled in this add-on package.
Download & installation
This package is available as download at Just Flight, it weighs in at 217MB and download is fast depending upon your internet connection.
The downloaded file comes as an executable that can be used for installation into FSX or P3D, installation is painless as is the case with all products from Just Flight.
Included in the Add-on
The package comes with 1 model and six liveries. The documentation consists of a manual, a check-list document and an in-flight reference card and check-list which can be opened via the FSX kneeboard.
The package also comes with custom sounds and effects.
The external model is a fair representation of the real aircraft. The flowing lines of the original are faithfully reproduced but there are a few niggles. The windscreen as seen from the outside has a color that I have been unable to find on pictures of the real airplane. Another small issue is with the wheel skirts. The wheel skirts on the real plane are intricately formed but in the model they are not.
One last issue is with the texturing which I find a little bland, when compared to the real airplane the model misses some reflections to make it really shine like the original.
The attention to detail in the GPS antennas, the beautiful worn tires, landing lights and the lettering go some way to make up for the flaws but the texturing is not up to the standards of other GA Add-on developers.
The model has some external details to make it look lifelike. The engine air intake and wings have some nice details and the different antennas are faithfully reproduced .
The model has some animations with slightly vibrating wings and a little cloud of smoke on engine start up, a little droop in the wings when standing parked and nice wing flex effects once moving at a reasonable pace.
The wheel skirts can be removed and both main entrance and passenger door can be operated with the standard SHIFT+E(2) combination. While the main entrance can also be operated by clicking on the appropriate lever, the passenger door can only be opened with the default key combination.
Overall the external model is good without breaking new ground.
The internal model has the same issues with texturing as the external model. It just misses something to make it really shine. This is a shame because the attention to detail is obvious.
There are lots of small little items to look at such as pencils, bottles and maps. The 2D steam gauges work fluently and a lot of the 3D switches are functional. The labels are difficult to read however, even at 100% zoom. If zoomed in enough everything is clearly readable but at default zoom levels this is distracting. It is also an issue with the glass panels with difficult to read information about systems status. This gets a lot better when the systems are viewed as 2D pop-ups which are very clear and easy to read.
The texturing of the seats and carpeted areas is reasonable but it misses the lifelike quality which can be found in other GA Add-ons.
There is no 2D panel as such but 2D pop ups for the steam gauges and glass panels are available.
The rear seats can be folded in order to enlarge the area available for luggage / cargo. This can only be accomplished from outside the plane. This is accomplished by using the CTRL+SHIFT+BACKSPACE keys from the VC and once clear from the airframe click on the rear seats. The passenger door has to be open for this to work.
The cargo area is of the same quality as the rest of the interior. Only one item to notice is the exterior tail light that is clearly visible from the inside, although this is the case with several GA add-ons.
The night lighting effects are very nice and are one of the things that makes this product stand out from the competition.
The systems modeling of the aircraft is fairly simple. It is not possible to enter the flight plan by hand, the system takes the active flight plan from FSX. The moving map with terrain representation is a nice feature which comes in very handy at times.
The included engine sound set is of a good quality. The same is true for the sounds of the switches in the cockpit. But not all switches are fully operational, and the switches on the glass panels do not have sound.
The plane can be flown at full throttle 'till the cows come home. Just push all levers all the way forward and keep them there. This is in fact in accordance with the manual of the real airplane and can be done without causing major damage to the engine.
The included reference file in the kneeboard does not really provide the pilot with useful settings for RPM or Manifold pressure but the pdf check-list does. For further information about how to handle the plane it is useful to download the flight manual from Diamond Aircraft at: http://www.diamond-air.at/fileadmin/uploads/files/after_sales_support/DA40-180/Airplane_Flight_Manual/Basic_Manual/60101e-r8-complete.pdf
If the plane is flown in accordance with the manual it will fly close to the published speeds, range and ceiling. Although the plane can fly somewhat higher and faster than indicated in the included manual and reference file.
The DA40 is a joy to fly, but far too forgiving - you can fly it like a fighter plane.
The model can do loops, barrel rolls, inverted fight, climbing inverted and pulling negative G. The real aircraft however is only certified for the normal and utility category and so is not certified to do such things.
When flown within the performance envelope the plane behaves as expected for a small GA plane.
You can choose to fly it realistically with use of the procedures from the checklist or just have fun blasting around at full throttle.
The plane is stable and is easy to trim in all stages of flight with some tendency to roll but nothing unexpected for a propeller driven plane.
As expected for such a slippery plane it is important to obey the rule to slow down before go down. All in all the plane behaves realistic if flown according to the flight manual but reality takes a back seat when you want to fly it like a fighter plane.
Documentation consists of a checklist, brochure, G1000-Diamond Pilots Guide, LHC Diamond DA40 Pilots Manual, the knee board reference file and knee board checklist file.
The checklist contains normal, emergency + abnormal checklists plus power settings. The brochure is from the real aircraft and the G1000 Pilot’s guide is the real item from Garmin. The LHC Pilots manual is the manual for the add-on and this manual contains a description for all the specific functions of the plane in FSX. It also has a small but noticeable error in that the maximum speed and cruise speeds are given in ktas (knots true air speed) instead of kias (knots indicated air speed).
Value for money
When judged against the advertised content this plane would not be the best choice compared to the Aerosoft DA20 or a Carenado HD plane.
Frankly it would be bad value for money because of the lack of deep systems modeling and the absence of a fault module or maintenance module.
When judged against what you get the package is surely worth the money. For less than 19 euros or 25 Dollars you get a plane that is great fun to fly and can be flown to the numbers or you can just let go and pretend you are in a fighter plane.
• Good external and internal modeling
• Nice engine sounds
• Good frame rates
• Nice animations like wing flex, flexing landing gear and moving pilot.
• Easy to fly
• Plane can be flown far outside the real flight envelope
• Speed ranges on the PFD (Primary Flight Display) are not the same as on the steam gauge
• Garmin G1000 is not fully functional
• Textures can use some “shine”
The price combined with the features that make this aircraft such fun to fly ensure that you get value for money with this plane. However if you are looking for something with complex systems modeling this add-on may leave you disappointed.
• External Model:
• Internal Model:
• Flight Characteristics:
• Flight Dynamics:
• Value for Money:
Final Mutley's Hangar Score 7.0/10