DA-20 or C-172?


New Member
Hey everyone,

I'm approaching the 20 hour mark in training for my private, and have been given the opportunity to switch from training in a C-172 to a new Diamond Ecclipse DA-20. I took the plane up the other day with my instructor and it was a blast to fly. The visibility was incredible because of the canopy, had the stick instead of the traditional yoke, electric trim (similar to the airlines, where there is the little tab on the yoke), GPS, and was just a blast to fly. It handled much easier than the 172, and I had more fun flying it. That, though, is what worries: that it is too easy to fly. My concern is learning to fly an easy aircraft, then getting on to a difficult one later in life and having a lot of trouble. My instructor and other instructors feel it should not be a problem, and I spoke with a United pilot who felt the same way. Also, though it may handle easier than the 172, there are a lot more systems and procedures (i.e. cylander head temperature gauge, fuel pump, etc.). Anyone have experience flying a DA-20 or can give any possible suggestions? Thanks.
I would stay with the 172 - the DA-20 is not too hard to fly but you are flying a lot faster sleeker ship which adds an eliment of difficulty, especially when learning. Learn in the 172 then switch to the DA-20 once you have your license.
They're both trainers so in the grand scheme of things, its really up to you. I don't think any airplane is much easier to fly than a 172, so don't worry about flying something thats *too* easy. Fly whatever you like better.
"Easy" is a relative term. Don;t worry about you initial training being too easy.

Unless there is some good reason to switch, like aircraft availability or maintenance issues, the most efficient thing is usually to stick with one airplane type.

The idea of primary training is to learn the basis of aircraft control, aeronautical knowledge and airplane systems. Finish the training. Get the certificate. And then switch around and learn to fly everything you can get your hands on.
I'd say if your training is going well, go for the DA-20. It will probably cost a little more time and/or money to get up to speed on all the systems as anything will be fair game for an examiner--"What would you do if the elec trim button fails?"--or something similar.

But if you plan to keep progressing in aviation, the faster you learn about the electronic gadgets in the cockpit the better. When you go for your Commercial license you can focus on the flight characteristics of a complex/high performance airplane more so than the avionics.

Also, taking friends up in a plane like that after you get your license makes a much bigger impression than in an old faded Skyhawk.
For me, every aircraft has it's own handling qualities, and generally when you switch to a different ac, it's just a matter of getting "used to the feel" (as well as it's book Vspeeds etc.) As Iain pointed out, the C-172 is generally more docile and "slower" than the DA-20 which is good from a training aspect, on the other hand since they are both trainers, you learn and train your basics in both and get used to whatever charactoristics each of them give you.

Perhaps as Midlife pointed out, stick with the one you choose, and as EatSleep said, fly whatever you like better.

Have fun and let us know which one you chose.

Blue Skies...
I really didn't think the DA-20 was easier at all; I thought it was harder!

Sure the airplane itself handles well (VERY well), but other things like descending to final, flaring, slowing down and getting down at the same time, ground handling, etc. are all much harder in the DA-20, IMHO. Vfe is only 78 with an approach speed of 58 (???). That's tough to get down to when just a bit of power easily accelerates the airplane. You pretty much have to pull the power way back on downwind and leave it there.

Also, you won't experience things like overbanking tendency and wing drops in less than perfect stalls because it flies *too* well - but since you've already done these it's not a big deal.

It will cost more to train in the DA-20. I don't know how the local prices compare, but you WILL take more time to get your license in the DA-20 compared to the 172 because you'll have to switch to a COMPLETELY different airplane. It's not like switching to a 172 from a 152.

But considering all that, go for it if you still want it! Its challenging qualities may make it worth it. In any case, get checked out in the thing eventually; it's FUN!
Plan for a go around, hope for a landing.

[/ QUOTE ]


Wait till you get your CFI. You will reverse that quote to read: "Plan for a landing, hope for a go-around." Why? Because that way you will be able to supersize your daily meal, or buy a few extra packs of Ramen!

...hmm, that spawned a new idea for a signature (I'll take it down if you want though...hehe).

Its your call, go with what suits you the best. I'm partial to the katana because thats almost the only thing my school flys. (diamond inc. right beside us)
ESF yeah go for it!

That is, as long as you explain to us why the pitch moments are reduced when flaps are extended in a turn!

Oh yeah, I forgot to do that didnt I....I'll see if I can come up with something between flights tomorrow...
TAKE THE 172!!!

If you can fly the 172 you can transition very easily into any of the Cessna/Piper/Beech products. If you get used to flying the DA20, you become a good DA20 pilot.

The plane doesn't teach the importance of trimming, plus it has many glider like traits (which isn't bad, just not great for a new student).

Have fun in the DA20 after getting your private, otherwise you'll be spending time learning how to fly Cherokees and Cessnas in other FBOs and flying clubs. That's the other benefit, there are so many cessna and piper aircraft around that you can move and easily transition into another aircraft. Not so with the DA20, not everyone has one.
I instruct in both, without a doubt the DA20 C1 is more difficult to learn in. It handles easy in the air, but most students really struggle with the landings and take-offs, especially soft-fields. I've seen it a dozen times, a prospect comes in and wants to fly the cheapest airplane [DA20] and then spends more money because it takes him longer. I like the airplane, but it's a lot less forgiving on landings, I've had to really earn my money a couple of times! I'd advise learning in the C172 and transitioning to the DA20.
Hey everyone,

I decided to go ahead and switch to the DA-20. I liked the challenge that it offered me, and really liked the idea of learning more systems and so far, I have not been disappointed! Thanks again for all your replies.