Austrian airplane manufacturer Diamond Aircraft have been building well-regarded composite light aircraft and motorgliders for over 30 years. After a failed foray in to the personal jet arena, they've set their sights on a light turboprop design that follows the classic muscle car formula of putting a massive engine into a tiny platform.
The economic downturn in 2008 hit aviation hard and Diamond had to abandon both their D-Jet single engine personal jet and high performance 5-seat DA50 piston programs. Fortunately, their small, single-engine DA20 and DA40 continued to be successful as well as the DA42 twin-engine that serve as primary trainers and utilitarian personal aircraft. Much of this success was due to the option to equip these models with a jet fuel burning diesel engine as opposed to a traditional avgas powerplant. This drove sales across much of Europe where avgas is impossible to find, or too expensive to be cost effective.
As an evolution to these successes, they've developed a platformed based off a stretched variation of the DA50; packing 7 seats into their new turbine powered rocket-with-wings. The DA50 powered by a geared turbine engine made its first flight on 19 January 2015 in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. The maiden flight was piloted by none-other the Diamond Aircraft CEO, Christian Dries, who was accompanied by the head of flight testing, Ingmar Mayerbuch.
The engine appears to be a redesigned variation of a turbo-shaft auxiliary power unit (APU) built for the Antonov AN-148. Built by the Ukrainian company Motor Sich JSC in collaboration with Ivchenko Progress, it's claimed to provide 20% lower fuel burn than similar turbine engines and the dual, fully automatic, electronic engine controls make it simple to operate.
This concept was first introduced at general aviation show AERO Friedrichshafen in April 2013. Certification is expected to be complete by mid to late 2016 and will be built at Diamond Aircraft headquarters in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. A Tundra variant will also be built with big wheels and rugged landing gear perfect for uneven strips and rough terrain.