I really enjoy GA aircraft flight simming and I tend to get drawn into flying some of the more interesting types available. Yes, there’s plenty of Cessna 152 and 172s to fly around and a good number of Piper PA-24, PA-30, and PA-44 available to fly in X-Plane but I always find myself drawn to the more unique options. Enter Aerobask’s DA62 which the developer has put their usual attention to detail into. Coming out in 2018 and receiving continual updates since then, I thought it was long past time I wrote a review of this aircraft. This is my full review of the Aerobask DA62 for X-Plane 11.
A bit of history
I always like to understand the aircraft I’m reviewing by looking at it in the context of its history of development first.
First flown in 2012 and introduced in 2015, the DA62 is one of the most modern twin engine designs on the general aviation market. The aircraft started life as a twin-engine version of another Diamond prototype, the DA50. The original DA50 did not progress beyond the prototype stage (although Diamond is now offering the new DA50 RG as of 2020) but two of the twin engine prototype aircraft were built under the DA52 designation before full produced commenced on the production standard DA62.
The aircraft is powered by two Austro AE330 turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel engines that generate 180 hp each and the aircraft has a maximum speed of 192 kts. The engines have FADEC control and take Jet A fuel which apparently improves the overall range of the aircraft. Among the other features are a suite of safety systems built in that protect the fuel tanks in the event of a crash. The aircraft is exceptionally stable and stalls at just 67 kts. DA62’s have a G1000 avionics suite built into what can only be described as a modern luxury sports car cockpit aesthetic.
The DA62 come in a five and seven seat configuration and are built in factories in Austria and Canada.
The usual features
The Aerobask DA62 came out a few years ago so the version I’m reviewing isn’t hot off the presses. Instead, it represents the aircraft at or near its peak. I’m late to reviewing it but given its continual updates and my enthusiasm about the module, I thought it was only fitting that I write my thoughts about it.
The aircraft has a range of features that, having purchased and reviewed other Aerobask modules, are standard but which represent a well put together aircraft. Let’s start with the G1000 avionics in the aircraft which is, as usual, built on top of the excellent X1000 by Laminar Studios (the makers of X-Plane). I’ve written about Aerobask’s implementation of the X1000 on their modules before (Read my full review of the Phenom 300) and this one is essentially the same with the usual custom engine displays typical of the DA62. It can do the usual array of VFR and IFR flying with SIDS, STARS, departures, and approaches.
This aircraft also has the usual 4K textures with PBR materials, detailed interior and exterior, custom coded FADEC/ECU system, custom coded oxygen system simulation (with blackout due to oxygen starvation), fully functional circuit breakers with customizable reliability, simulated ice protection system and persistent state saved between flights if you so choose.
Also listed on the feature list but broken under the X-Plane 11.5x Vulkan API are windshield effects like Librain. They worked fine previously but the new renderer has… rendered (ahem) them useless. Hopefully, Laminar Studios will work with developers to get new windshield and even icing effects implemented into the sim although I suspect we won’t see that with 11.5 but rather in the upcoming X-Plane 12.
I really like the ‘spaceship’ styling of the Diamond aircraft in general and I’ve loved the design ever since I saw one fly a few years ago at the London, Ontario airshow. Diamond has an HQ located near the airport and their aircraft often impress the crowds prior to the formal start of the airshow or during a quiet time between other acts. I’ve loved every minute of it!
The aircraft has a very organic look to it with smooth curves, elongated wings with flared tips and the engine nacelles are quite unique looking themselves. Aerobask has managed to capture the swoops and curves of the aircraft perfectly as near as I can tell, and the type looks superb from a 3D modeling aspect.
Go inside and it’s the same story there. Plenty of detail in all areas right down to the modeling of each circuit breaker. I also love the attention to detail on the stitching on the dashboard and on the aircraft’s seats. There are good animations on the usual range of controls and there are a few extras like the armrest which can be moved up and out of the way if you want. The rest of the passenger compartment is also highly detailed.
There are a few weaker spots such as the ELT button which looks like it’s a photo of the real ELT that’s just stuck into the cockpit. It’s a rare miss on what is otherwise a very good cockpit. There’s also no shadows baked in and X-Plane 11’s shadow and shading system is lacking so that shows here in 2021 too. Hopefully the next generation X-Plane 12 will help this aircraft shine.
Aerobask’s art style does lend itself to a clearner look but I think the DA62 is one of their best as it captures the aircraft’s mica speckled paint exterior as well as getting materials like the leather seats and headliner. The seats are looking good too. A few bits of dirt and dust, particularly on the outside, could really take this to the next level but that aside there’s very little to find at fault with this aircraft.
The cockpit also features a tablet in a holder near the pilot’s right leg. Click on it and a 3D AviTab pops out with full functionality. AviTab is one of the best addons for X-Plane 11 when it comes to adding a tablet like interface into almost any aircraft and I love that it is here. You can use it to reference the types’ very good PDF manuals and checklists or use it to bring up map or airport information. Nice!
Aerobask have also included several liveries including one 2K quality skin for people with less available VRAM on their GPU.
Sounds about right
The DA62 features FMOD sounds and are generally good. The engines do have a bit of a drone to them and I’m not sure if that’s a concession to the real thing or not. As usual, most buttons and annunciators seem to work and sound the way they should, and the engines themselves do change convincingly in pitch depending on the power settings.
There are really good sound effects for the trim, flaps, and gear. They have all of the suitable sounds that you’d expect and they have a very high sound quality when I’m listening in. The aircraft also has its own tire noises and you can hear (and therefore feel) the landing gear as it compresses on the ground. The sounds are subtle but they are there and good enough to really make a positive impression of the work that Aerobask have put into the soundscape.
I have virtually no complaints overall on the sound work. Have a listen to some of the aircraft’s sounds as I land it at Pangborn Memorial Airport (KEAT) in Washington state.
Steady as she goes
If you’re looking for a good, easy to fly, cruising aircraft with twin engines, the DA62 is perhaps one of the finest examples of that kind of experience. With a cruise speed around 170 kts, the DA62 is not slow but it’s also not fast and so it offers a combination of experiences that let you generally enjoy the scenery and the flight that you’re on.
It’s relatively maneuverable and so landing at small, out of the way, airports is easy enough. I was even able to land it without too much trouble at the trickier landing locations such as legendary Courchevel (LFLJ) airport with its sloped runway.
Anything with a bigger runway is a piece of cake and the aircraft is very forgiving on the approach and flare.
There is also some critical modeling to the aircraft that forces you to pay attention to engine limits. If you fly at full power all the time you will eventually run the engines down and you can even start a fire. The effect is typical of X-Plane 11’s particle effects (not great) but the mechanical feature of overdoing the engines is an excellent addition.
Aerobask’s control panel gives you control over a bunch of different options. You can refill the deicing fluid as well as the oxygen. You can set luggage and passenger configurations and specify how much fuel you’re carrying in the two tanks. This is also where you adjust and control the various doors and compartments. There’s also options for sounds and the G1000. The one thing absent from the control and from the aircraft is the ability to toggle on or off synthetic vision. This aircraft came out before that was common in X-Plane and on Aerobask products but a future update is likely to bring that feature to the aircraft according to the developers.
When it comes to starting the aircraft up, the DA62 is easy, with just a couple procedures to work through. You need to turn on the fuel and fuel pumps and then hit the starter button and the engines roar to life. Simple! There are a few safety checks prior to that and I am simplifying this slightly… but not by much. The engines are managed by FADEC and there’s just the dual throttle control which means that you don’t need to worry about the mixture and pitch settings. It’s all handled digitally.
You will need to make sure that you don’t over-torque the engines. If you run the engines flat out for too long, you will end up with a damaged engine… or worse, a fire. And I’ve done this and so have many others going by comments made about the aircraft over the years.
The flight model was done by X-Aerodynamics which have had a hand in a lot of Aerobask’s products and feels fluid and dynamic in all the right ways. I’ve never flown a DA62 but this does seem to feel like flying a real aircraft. The long wings do make the aircraft a bit slower to roll than some smaller and more nimble aircraft but I hardly found this to be a problem and it’s still generally responsive in all speed regimes that the aircraft fly’s in.
Few performance woes
For whatever reason, the DA62 is a bit of a performance hog. Although the feature list says that it has been tuned for performance, my experience has been a little bit more muted. Back when bought it and started flying it in X-Plane 11.42, the aircraft saw my system drop the average frame rate down into the low to mid 20 range and even into the teens. Not bad for X-Plane 11.4x (which was notoriously low performing on even the best hardware) but also not ideal and lower than other aircraft that I have in that range.
In the modern version of the sim under 11.55 my experience has improved markedly with frame rates typically hovering in the 25-35fps range. Vulkan has been kind to this aircraft because it has smoothed out all of the glitches that we saw in frame rates before. It makes for an overall better experience.
It is still heavier on my system than Aerobask’s newer Phenom 300 which I can get an extra 5-10fps over the DA62 on my now aged Core i5 6600 with 16GB of DDR4 and a GTX 1070ti.
I don’t know what exactly on the aircraft causes such a significant performance hit but it is there. If you’re just barely scraping by with the latest version you may find this aircraft harder to enjoy. If you have nice high frame rates in other aircraft in the latest Vulkan version of X-Plane you should fine here.
A family of aircraft? X-Plane 12?
I’m a bit of a fan of the Diamond aircraft not least because some of them are built here in Canada and because they are a sponsor of one of my favourite local airshows. Aerobask have done a superb job with the DA62 and that has left me wanting more. Indeed, Aerobask is planning to do an update to the DA62 with some new features in the future primarily oriented at including OscarPilote’s synthetic vision system which they now have on the Phenom 300.
Aerobask has also just recently announced that they are going to be building a version of the new Diamond DA50 RG for X-Plane. Aerobask have previously reported that the DA62 is one of their best selling aircraft and its not a surprise that they are going to lean into that a bit more with another Diamond aircraft. So, it seems that twin engine DA62 is going to have a single engine counterpart joining it sometime in the future and I am beyond excited about the news.
This all also bodes well for future compatibility with the upcoming X-Plane 12. Although no formal statement has been made that I have seen, given Aerobask’s track record, I would guess that they will make upgrades available for current owners which should alleviate some concern over upgrades to the next generation.
Aerobask also created the excellent Robin DR401. This G1000 equipped GA aircraft is completely free for download from the X-Plane.org Store. Its a gem of an aircraft that introduced me to the kind of modelling quality that you can expect from Aerobask. The DA62 is more detailed but for the price of free, the DR401 is easily the best in the industry. More about it here.
If you want an excellent GA aircraft in X-Plane and want something with a more modern flare, the Aerobask DA62 is what you should turn your attention to.
This is a high-quality aircraft with plenty of system depth, a modern avionics suite, and strong audio and visuals. Aside from the high system requirements, the DA62 flies well, has modern avionics, is great for traveling longer distances relative to most GA aircraft, and is generally just a great aircraft to enjoy flying around.
Aerobask have done an outstanding job with the DA62. The deep system modeling, engine management, strong visuals, and outstanding audio work all come together to offer an oustanding general aviation aircraft that can take you almost anywhere and gives you outstanding views of the scenery around you while you do it. This aircraft is a joy to fly around and its simple operation let you get up and running in a snap. Simply put, the Aerobask DA62 is my favourite GA aircraft in X-Plane 11 bar none. I highly recommend it!
The Aerobask DA62 can be purchased from the X-Plane.org Store for $34.95.
The DA62 is quite a good looking aircraft in X-Plane 11 and it deserves a whole bunch of screenshots. So, here they are!