Review of the Aerosoft Diamond Katana
As the weather isn’t really suitable for flying during Fall in Europe, you have the opportunity to keep your piloting skills up to date using the good old FSX flight simulator from Microsoft or it’s newer sister Prepar3D. There are thousands of interesting add-on aircraft available, and one of the most interesting ones is the Katana for FSX made by Aerosoft. Liveries include a Diamond DA-20 Katana with the registration D-EKKK – which is precisely the machine that is owned by the Aero Club in Hildesheim, of which I happen to be a member. Although I have to admit that our Katana is not equipped with a Garmin 500 navigation system.
Although the package of Aerosoft costs around 30 €, it is one of the deepest going simulation of small aircraft: among other item, you have have to perform a preflight check before departure, the aircraft gets dirty, it ages, and when you push it over the limits, well, it breaks.
Graphically, the Katana is very well done, the designers took great care to implement even the smallest details. One can open the hood and even remove the engine cover to take a look at the Rotax engine in front. It is possible to drainen the aircraft, to measure the oil level, change oil and move the plane back and forth using a fork. Also, the tank cap can be opened, and of course you may also refuel the plane.
You get used to the instrumentation quickly. Putting it into realistic mode, you have to use virtually all levers and switches with the mouse. The rotating wheels are operated using the wheel of the mouse, which does not really work well when you are on a Mac using the Magic Mouse from Apple.
I have a hard time trying to get used to the sensitivity of this machine. Virtually every second flight ends with an emergency landing. In one of my recent flights I pulled too hard, which resulted in the elevator being brocken. If you’re lucky, the elevator in in a neutral position stuck, so that it is possible to land the machine with careful dosage of engine power and trim. Once, though, the tail got fastened in the highest position available.
In this case, it was tough to keep the Katana from stalling, the only way to descent was flying curves.
On another occasion, the engine failed 100 meters before the runway. The cylinder head had overheated and caused a major engine damage.
In the end, flying the Katana is never boring, and you learn to think outside the box and find clever ways to deal with emergency situations.
While being well-simulated, I do not believe that the Diamond DA-20 Katana is ever going to be a favorite plane. Particularly, I do not like the Rotax engine, which is also used to power much lighter ultralight panes. According to the manual, Aerosoft’s package only features the 80hp version. Consequently, this plane is not really fast: it likes to cruise at less than 100kt, the pace is usually a leisurely 80-90kt.
There are newer versions with a more powerful Continental IO-240 engine that produces an output of 125 hp, resulting in a cruise speed of 138kt or 256 km h – that would be a lot more fun to fly, although the small tank right is likely to be exhausted quickly when you have a fuel consumption of 5.5 gallons per hour.
Btw, the California VFR scenery seen in the pictures is actually a freeware and available free from blueskyscenery.com. Too bad that there is no such a project available for Germany.
It will be exciting to compare the simulated DA-20 with the real plane of the Aero Club, which features a DA-20-100 with a 100hp Rotax engine.
The Diamond Katana by Aerosoft can be found here: Diamond DA 20 Katana by Aerosoft