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Aquila A211 test flight

Malmin Ilmailukerho ry Forums Keskustelu Aquila A211 test flight

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    • #9075
      Erik Schobesberger
      Participant

      Hi, I thought I do this in English so that most of us can read it. Jos kaipaat raporttia suomeksi, niin ilmoittele tai soittele minulle suoraan, tuli sen verta pitkä juttu etten heti jaksaisi kirjoittaa suomeksikin:)

      I took a test flight in the factory Aquila A211 demonstrator (D-EAQU), which was at Malmi for the airshow and will do a tour of Finland for prospective customers. The PIC was a very experienced, professional and nice Swiss test pilot and FI who had been to Finland many times before.

      As a short summary: it was an excellent experience and I was pleasantly surprised by both the plane as well as the arrangements.

      Then in more detail: At first I was slightly taken aback by the fact that I had to pay for something which I see as a marketing exercise for a plane manufacturer and distributor, especially since the flight time was scheduled to be rather short. However, as I was able to fully log the flight in my logbook and the demo pilot was simply outstanding, I would not criticise this too much, especially since both me and MIK (?) are only prospecting for a new plane at the moment rather than seriously looking to buy one.

      The demo pilot and the practical arrangement were simply excellent, all I had to do was to jump into the plane and start asking questions, as the Garmin G500 was not familiar to me. The plane was obviously fully specced with G500, GTN650 and some digital engine monitor, which made the flight more interesting, but I think most clubs and private owners might think twice about the price difference between a fully equipped one and one with analog instruments.

      The first impression of the cabin was the huge space inside, definetely the most spacious two-seater have ever been in, and the excellent build quality, which I would rate slightly superior to our OH-IHQ. The seats were also very good, I could probably fly for a long time without any fatigue. Handling on the ground was easy with the steerable nose wheel, otherwise basic operations were very similar to the DV20, which was to be expected as the planes are in many ways very close to each other in specification. The big luggage space and door locks are a definite plus over the DV20. A futher, very important plus point of the Aquila is the night VFR approval and pitot heat, which you need for night flying in Finland and cannot be had for the DV20 (or even DA20, for that matter). This makes the aircraft more useable year-round in Finland and should be pointed out in the marketing for the training market. I did not know of the pitot heat before the test flight.

      In the air the plane was very easy to fly and cabin was very quiet for this category of plane. Control feel was quite stable and substantial, maybe a bit heavier control forces needed than in DV20 but very suitable for a rather low-time pilot like myself and making the plane a good choice for basic training and for pilots who are not that experienced. Speed was OK and good, considering that I had rather realistic expectations, with the plane being about 5-8% faster than a comparable DV20 on same power. The speed (about 100 KIAS on 55% power in the Aquila) I compare to IHQ speed at 55% power and consider -5 KIAS for IHQ’s missing wheel pants. Altogether flying feel very similar to IHQ, maybe I like the analog instruments more as I am more used to them but G500 is obviously great if you train for G1000 and looks spectacular.

      Landing the plane was quite easy, despite the strong, gusting wind at Malmi at the time of the landing with approach and landing speeds (flap speed higher at 90 KIAS) almost identical to the DV20, maybe the Aquila was even a bit easier to land. Due to the airshow we were marshalled to our stand, which added nice bonus to the flight, the first time I have had a follow-me car drive in front at Malmi!

      As a summary, I was expecting that a practically brand-new, fully-specced plane is excellent, but even so I have to say that the Aquila 211 is easily the best two-seater I have ever flown (comparison with DV20-100, C152 and some ultralights) and also the best plane I have ever flown. Then again, with only 110 hours flight time, I am not as critical as some more experienced pilots are. But given the price, which I think is reasonable for a proper, type-approved high quality plane, the real question in Finland is whether there is a market in the flight school, private and club segment.

      For a wealthy individual who is into flying and likes to use his/her aircraft also for proper touring, it is an excellent plane, but for the priceyou start getting some pretty nice four-seaters as well, like low-hour Diamond DA40s, which have even more capabilities but are of course way more expensive to operate. Because of the Rotax engine, I would very seriously consider a slightly used Aquila as a private plane, but at the moment I don’t fly enough to warrant buying one, maybe in 5 years time I have enough time to seriously consider buying one myself. I also wince at the cost of buying one, certainly not impossible but a lot of money for someone like me.

      For a club, such as Malmin Ilmailukerho, the question is whether the Aquila is so much better than a slightly used DV20 that it is worth buying. There is of course no definitive answer to that, but I would say “maybe”, as a good DV20 costs about EUR100k and does the basic training and short touring tasks almost as well. For a club which wants to also have a night VFR capable plane with good touring possibilities, the Aquila starts looking attractive, especially if the maintenance costs are lower than for a DV20. Smaller clubs with less money will probably stick to old C150/152s unless AVGAS availability and price become prohibitive. But for a commercial flying school which needs to have a nigh-VFR plane and wants to keep running costs down as well as attract students with modern fleet, the Aquila 211 is THE perfect plane.

      Hope this feedback helps, maybe a bit too much information but I really liked the experience and though it was a very useful flight.

    • #10313
      Miika Asunta
      Participant

      Thanks for the extensive report!

      The pricing is of course a major concern when we think purchasing an aircraft for our club. With value added tax Aquila costs almost twice the amount of IHQ. And as this is a very new model, we do not yet know costs for spare parts and their availability in next 10 years.

      Engine shouldn’t bring any surprises, though.

      Aquila could be an interesting option in 7-8 years, after some private owners or flying schools would be updating their fleet and we could find a used one. Probably then we would also have experience of total operating cost of Aquila.

      * * * *

      I have understood that pitot heat, landing light as well as instrument and map lights could be installed to IHQ, but these obviously would decrease the payload. An external alternator should be considered, too. The landing light would be located in the lower part of the engine cowling – not in the leading edge of the left wing. New DV20 design is different from ten years older model of DA20.

      * * * *

      I hope we could see Aquila at Malmi before it returns home, the time frame for demo flights last Friday was very limited.

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