Daniel Triquès and his dream team just put the finishing touches on their new creation within eighteen months after launching the project and less than two years after the revival of production in Darois.
The DR401 will be presented for the first time at Aero2014 in Friedrichshafen, the big event of the year for recreational aviation, and at the Farnborough airshow in June.
Everyone knows and loves the DR400. Nobody wants to change its flying qualities, payload, maneuverability, safety; everything that has made it such a success since its inception in 1972 and reinforced by the many improvements made â€‹â€‹since.
And yet, the world is moving. Lovers of the DR400 have grown up, gained weight and acquired a taste for comfort and finish offered by car manufacturers ...
It was time for a makeover of the DR400 without losing its good qualities: it is the constant focus that inspired, under the careful guidance of Daniel and designer Zo Ramaromisa, the team in Darois, his Chief of Design Bureau Christophe Belin, the prototypist Rémi Mairet and all of the "compagnons" enrolled in the project.
A safer, larger and more comfortable cockpit,
The idea was to get the same roominess as the DR500 without compromising the DR400 payload.
The first inspiration was to use the same canopy but formed on a curved frame 10 cms wider at shoulder height: bingo! objective achieved and even the rear passengers benefit from better visibility! And then we turned to the canopy handles, making them neater and more streamlined, and the bulky loudspeaker and lighting enclosure that is now a small fairing that blends into the ceiling.
The second innovation was to remove the clutter between the two pilot seats: the flap lever, and the seat adjustment levers that can trap seat buckles. We installed electrical flaps as in the DR500, moved the seat adjustment levers to the front of the seats and designed a centre console continuous from the instrument panel to rear seats and incorporating the flap mechanism. The elevator trim wheel is replaced by electrical controls in the stick handles (a method that we already used in principle for autopilot equipped aircraft) .
It remained to create even more comfortable sport seats and to redesign the stick with an ergonomic handle and shape the lower part of the instrument panel to give more leg space. A handle has been installed on either side of the panel to make it easy to adjust the seat position whilst seated.
The instrument panel is completely redesigned to allow more space for large digital screens, whether certified or uncertified. Additional equipment for IFR, if needed, is located remotely.
A more streamlined coaming protects displays from the sun and makes them easier to view, gives increased forward visibility and provides a perfect reference line for the horizon.
Annunciator lights, the trim indicator, the magnetic compass, brightness adjusters and ancillary switches are at their usual place in the new upper section, while the center console accommodates switches for the fuel pump, landing light, flaps, the engine management lever(s), the fuel selector, the parking brake knob and a 12 volt power socket accessible from the rear seats. Each button "falls" naturally to hand without effort and according to the sequence in the Flight Manual...
News for the airframe too
Since 2013, all new aircraft have been equipped with a flight recorder, SafetyPlane, that supports a warranty of twenty years for the aerostructures. It is also possible to access a real time flight management tool for added safety.
The DR401 also now offers the opportunity to use the new hi -tech Oratex covering that improves performance, eliminates cracks in the paint and makes repairs easier and quicker. With Oratex the weight decreases from 5 to 20 kgs, depending on the options selected, because the painting process is now integrated into the manufacturing of the fabric. The warranty on the Oratex covering is 10 years
Another new feature: the use of unleaded, ethanol-free (98 octane type), autogas, allowed on Lycoming engines by SI1070S, is now available on the DR401 through the cooperation of Robin New Aircraft with the Gomolzig company that has a long experience of the use of this fuel in Germany.
Finally, landing, taxying and navigation lights are all now long-life LEDs, the remote oil filter cartridge mounted on Lycoming engines makes maintenance easier and the new luggage compartment door is now secured by two strong locks
With four Lycoming and two Centurion engines, a choice of several variable pitch or fixed-pitch propellers, the DR401 offers a broad range of tailored solutions with unmatched levels of payload, comfort and safety.
And its price remains by far the lowest in its class ...