This is a two-for-one article where I do one of my Flight Journal pieces while also giving my first impressions of the brand new DA50 RG from Aerobask. Released just yesterday, the new general aviation aircraft is a great cross country cruiser so that’s what I decided I would do in some familiar territory. Let’s fly!
Anacortes to Darrington
Let’s talk about the route first. Making use of the Orbx TrueEarth Washington SD scenery pack. My departure point was the 74S Anacortes Airport taking me over Padilla Bay, over Burlington, WA, Lake Cavanaugh, Round Mountain and then finally arriving at Darrington 1S2 Regional Airport. Both airports are also available from Orbx giving the whole journey, end-to-end, a much more scenic and immersive feeling versus the X-Plane 11 default.
Start-up and takeoff
One of the things that I was curious about was how difficult the DA50 RG might be from the DA62. Aerobask created both of these for X-Plane and the DA62 is easily one of my favourite GA aircraft of all time. When I saw the product launch for the real DA50 RG I hoped that Aerobask or another top aircraft producer would build one… and here we are!
Start-up was extremely straightforward with most of the procedures and checks being similar or identical to the DA62. Minus an extra engine of course! The DA50 RG has a Continental CD-300 turbocharged, FADEC controlled jet fuel engine with 300 hp of power on tap. That’s only 60hp less than the twin engine DA62 and without the associated drag of two engines and their nacelles. As a result, the DA50 is only about 10 knots slower in its rated top speed.
Start-up is simple and once the aircraft is up and running there isn’t too much else required to set it up beyond the normal procedures. The G1000 glass panel is very familiar to me at this point so it was easy to setup a quick VFR point to point journey over to 1S2.
Before long I was trundling along the taxiway. Like the DA62, this aircraft is a bit sensitive on the brakes, so it takes a fair bit of coordination and/or some curves on the pedals to make it track straight down a narrow taxiway. Then it was time for a quick run-up at the end of the runway before taxiing onto Runway 36 for a departure to the north.
For the 300hp that’s available in this aircraft, I did feel like acceleration was a bit on the slow side. I preface that with the understanding that I did fully load the aircraft with passengers and luggage while keeping the fuel load at 50% and keeping us well under MTOW. Refining the trim on climb out was also a little sluggish – I wouldn’t be surprised if the trim sensitivity gets a small tweak. That or I need to double check and make sure my controls are working correctly.
High visibility cruiser
After takeoff, I turned to the east and set course along the navigation line taking me to our destination. Along the way I overflew Anacortes, the nearby refinery, Padilla Bay, Burlington WA and a number of other landmarks as mentioned earlier. The DA50 RG in cruise feels very similar to the DA62 in all but one way – visibility out the side. With the short chord wings and no twin engine setup, the DA50 RG has better visibility in an aircraft type that already prioritizes large windows and good views.
That visibility helped me to spot incoming weather, such as it is with default X-Plane, as a series of weather updates changed the clear skies into cloudy ones and then even more cloudy ones as the skies opened up with light rain. At one point I had to deviate from course to stay out of a low visibility area near a mountain. An area that was clear just a minute before. It certainly kept me on my toes and it gave me a chance to test the manoeuvrability of the DA50.
Similar to the DA62, this is a good plane for travelling from point to point but it isn’t an overly aerobatic type. Roll rate feels confident but sluggish with quick maximum rate being achieved but overall rate being a bit slow. Pitch is also relatively subdued although easily managed.
I’ve watched real world videos with the pilots taking the type into a stall and its extremely sedate – by design. I found the same here with a brief power off stall test.
On to landing
Having taken in the sights, dodged some rain clouds, and gotten to know the aircraft a bit better it was time to land it.
Darrington 1S2 is a small regional paved field with a narrow runway. It’s not all that easy to spot at first although as you get closer the details reveal themselves. I elected to come straight in and gradually reduced my speed and deployed flaps.
The DA50 RG has a nice auditory warning if you reduce throttle too much while coming into land without deploying the gear. A nice feature in the real plane and great to see simulated here. The audio callouts on landing are a nice feature too as you descend through 500 feet above the runway.
I did land a little hard (probably around -300fpm) as I misjudged the amount of drag off of the flaps. Something to note the next time. Still, it was relatively uneventful landing and I was able to taxi off at the end of the runway and park it.
I’ll be doing a full review later on once I’ve had some more flying time and a chance to really put the DA50 RG through it’s paces but I can already tell that this aircraft is up to the same high standards that Aerobask are known for. The DA50 RG will be an interesting type going forward too as it has a few X-Plane 12 features already planned (or perhaps even baked in) so how this aircraft evolves as we transition major version numbers of X-Plane will be interesting.
More thoughts on this aircraft to come!