Among the multiple private jets emerging as competitors in the VLJ market is the Diamond D-Jet, a 3-passenger (plus 2 crew seats), single-engine aircraft designed for short- to medium-range missions. The D-Jet is targeted at the owner-operator market, specifically pilots who have some experience in piston aircraft but are interested in transitioning to a jet. The $1.38 million aircraft may be the perfect choice for entry-level jet travel.
Diamond Aircraft’s approach to the design of the D-Jet is innovative. In the initial stages of design, the company made a decision to limit the private jet to a 25,000 foot ceiling. Although this is somewhat unconventional, it fits well with the overall design goals of the D-Jet. To begin with, the time spent flying above FL 250 for most short- and medium-range flights is fairly short, as the majority of the mission is spent climbing to and descending from cruise altitude, which burns a lot of fuel. The fuel consumed in climbing to cruise altitude is rarely compensated by the more efficient flight that can be achieved at high altitudes. Flying below FL 250 is more cost-effective, both in terms of mission planning and aircraft design. The requirements for flight above this level are much more stringent and would require more expenditures in every area from cabin insulation to FAA certification to pilot training and insurance. The decision to keep the D-Jet at a lower altitude is representative of the aircraft’s overall design goal of efficient, accessible, low-cost private jet travel.
The cabin of the D-Jet is designed for three passengers. Its total volume (including both the cabin and cockpit) of 165 cubic feet and measures 4.5 feet high and 4.75 feet wide. A total of 62.9 cubic feet of baggage space is available in an 18.4 cubic foot internal storage compartment and two external compartments. Alternately, two of the seats in the cabin may be folded to allow for additional cargo. Pending FAA approval, owners of the D-Jet will have the option of purchasing a unique safety feature: a ballistic parachute.
The D-Jet’s fuselage is constructed from a carbon fiber composite, which is both lighter and more corrosion resistant than the aluminum airframes of some competing VLJs. The private jet was designed to have slow approach speeds, which allow it to land on short runways. Although its approach speeds are slow, the D-Jet climbs at a decent pace, reaching 25,000 feet in 15 minutes. Once at cruising altitude, the D-Jet can reach a maximum cruise speed of 315 ktas. The recommended cruise speed for optimum long range performance is 240 ktas. When loaded to its maximum fuel capacity of 500 lbs, the D-Jet has a maximum range of 1,350 nautical miles.
The D-Jet is powered by a single Williams FJ33 engine. FADEC automatically for optimal engine performance throughout the flight. The cockpit of the D-Jet is equipped with Garmin G1000 avionics, the same avionics suite used on the Citation Mustang and the Phenom 100. The cockpit will be configured with two 12-inch PFDs and one central 15-inch MFD.
Diamond Aircraft announced the completion of its second D-Jet in the summer of 2007. Since that time, the aircraft has been used for flight testing. Diamond Aircraft expects the D-Jet to receive FAA certification in the second quarter of 2008 and is currently accepting orders for the private jet.