DA40XL Cross Country Flight Summary

This past weekend I had the chance to use my shiny new VFR/IFR checkout in the new Diamond DA40XL on an overnight cross country flight to Iowa with my family (minus the dogs). Get the details of the flight including lessons learned after the jump.

First Leg — OJC to IKV:

IKV-OJC-N793USIFR from OJC to IKV via Direct (this picture on the left is a radar plot of our return trip). The flight was about 179 nautical miles one-way and we filed for 140 KTAS at 5000 feet.

After a late aircraft checkout due to a last minute rental we got things fueled up and a quart of break in oil (still less than 100 hours on the engine) added. We packed up our cargo (mostly for my 2 year old), pre-flighted, and got our clearance.

The departure weather from OJC was: wind 350 at 7 knots, 10 SM visibility and scattered clouds at 10,000. We departed runway 36 and quickly got our vector 10 degrees right to avoid the Friday evening arrivals at MCI. Once we were over I-435 on the east side of KC we picked up “direct IKV” — right into a 20 Knot headwind. This added an additional 20 minutes to the flight; however, it would have been much worse in the Cessna 172 — and longer still by car! 🙂 After a lot of continuous “chop” for 90 minutes straight, we had an airsick 2 year old but we arrived in Ankeny (IKV) at about 5:30 (90 minutes flight time) to much cooler weather behind the cold front that had just passed earlier in the day. IKV weather was wind 350 at 17 knots gusting to 20 knots & clear. Good thing runway 36 was available!

Second Leg — IKV to OJC:

IFR from IKV to OJC via Direct. It was a much smoother flight the next day on the return trip — no air sick 2 year old (yeah). We filed for 140 KTAS at 6000 feet. After a later departure than we wanted from our family’s house we got wheels off shortly after 4pm local. The weather was killing us this trip as the headwinds were 12 knots from the South-Southwest. Grrrrr. The good thing about this leg was I got to see the XM lightning data on the G1000 populate with a storm 200 miles west near the Lincoln/Omaha area. I also got some actual instrument time when we got closer to Kansas City. It was overcast at 6000 feet and light rain, but as we got closer to KC, ATC had us descend to 4000 feet which took us below the clouds. I’ll take any actual instrument time when I can get it and it was fun to fly the G1000 in the soup. What an awesome IFR platform!

Lessons Learned:

  • The DA40XL did not cut through the chop like the Piper Arrow or Cessna 182 has on past flights. Spring/Fall weather in the midwest results in several “choppy” days. I could have climbed higher to get out of the chop on this trip, but winds were much worse at the higher altitudes. Tough call.
  • I was a little aggressive on my 140 KTAS calculation. The G1000 reported around 134-136 KTAS on both legs.
  • The Garmin G1000 Autopilot (GFC 700) is super easy to use! What a much better piece of engineering vs the Honeywell/Bendix/King KAP 140 that the Cessna models have! If you have the option, get the GFC 700. It’s soooooo much easier to operate — plus there is one less altimeter to set in the cockpit.
  • Don’t forget to “reset the fuel” on the G1000 when you refuel. I failed to reset on leg 1 and I got much better fuel usage information resetting it on leg 2.
  • Don’t forget to get your T/O flaps out after departure. The first minute after departure of leg 1, I failed to get my nose in the climb checklist and could not figure out why we were not getting the speed I expected on the climb.
  • Something was wrong with the NEXRAD weather data. I was getting lightning, but no NEXRAD. I need to research this further to see if it has been activated in this plane.

I am still planning on doing a full write-up on my initial impressions on the DA40XL rental at KCAC. I want to put something really detailed good together. In the meantime, if you want to read a great write-up from an older DA40, take a look here. Philip Greenspun does a great job and has some amazing aviation photos too.

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