In the fourth part of our manufacturer series, we talk to Avionic, the company behind the infamous Diana gliders. Just in time for this interview, Sebastian Kawa is the new World Champion in the 15m-class. Once again, at the World Gliding Championships in Narromine, Australia, Kawa won with the mighty Diana 2. It seems this "old" design is still quite competitive with the latest 15m gliders.
Now, new pictures popped up on the internet. The Diana 4 ER, an 18m electric self-launcher, is close to entering production. Time to get some information about the new Diana and Avionic in general. We talked to Bolesław Kawik, the CEO of Avionic.
Hello Bolesław. Tell us about your company. In the gliding world, Avionic is known for producing trailers.
The Avionic company was founded in 1997 in Górki Wielkie (Poland), thanks to the passion and vision of two aviation enthusiasts, Bolesław Kawik and Leszek Matuszek. In its early days, the company's production services centered around crafting trailers tailored for a diverse range of gliders and ultralight aircraft. Over the years, our dedicated team has successfully manufactured over 1150 trailers.
Your manufacturing quality seems superb. Do you have experience in manufacturing aircraft parts?
In 2003, our business expanded to the production of composite parts, components, and assemblies for the Extra 300 aircraft. The Extra is one of the most modern and popular high-performance aerobatic aircraft in the world.
Extra is the only brand you have produced parts for?
No. The year 2012 marked the beginning of our collaboration with Grob Aircraft. Our activities there centered around the production of composite parts for the G 120TP turboprop aircraft.
How many people are working for Avionic at the moment?
Our company employs qualified engineering and production staff, who ensure the high quality of the manufactured products. At the moment, the avionic crew consists of 100 people. Currently, we have an administration and a production hall. Together both halls have a total area of approximately 2,500 m² and the equipment necessary for the aforementioned production.
An extension to our headquarters in Górki Wielkie is planned for 2024. A modern production hall will be built, which will allow us to expand and modernize our production.
Let's get into your gliders. When did you start producing the Diana?
In 2016, we purchased the production rights of the Diana 2 glider. Since the resumption of production, there has been an intention to modify this unique design. The Diana 2 has been equipped with an LZ Design FES system, thus expanding the production offer of Avionic. In the following years, there was a dynamic growth for the company. Finally, the Diana 3 was the next step. With this glider, we entered the 18m class.
How many Diana 2 and Diana 3 gliders have already been produced?
From the production of the first Diana 2 to the present day, around 20 gliders have been manufactured. For the Diana 3 production ended at number three.
You are currently working on a new 18m design.
Indeed. The entire Avionic engineering staff, headed by the chief designer - mag. eng. Grzegorz Sadłek is working on this project, at the moment. On the aerodynamic side, the work is led by Dr. Krzysztof Kubrynski (the wing designer of the Diana 2) It is a high-performance glider of the 18-metre class with an electric motor that allows an independent take-off.
The Diana 2 was designed for ultimate performance and still competes with the latest 15 m designs. What is your approach with Diana 3 and 4?
Each glider of the Diana family is designed for absolute performance and efficiency. The Diana 4 fuses the best features and elements of its predecessors and introduces a new dimension of comfort, subtlety, and beauty.
The Diana 3 and Diana 4 are both competing in the 18m class. Why did the Diana 4 come this fast?
Our company strives to meet the demands of the market and, above all, the customers, who are the best glider pilots in the world. We listen and analyze their needs, introduce them during design, and implement them during production. Soon, it was clear that our customers wanted a retractable electric system for 18m gliders in the future. This is not possible with the Diana 3, so a new project was started.
Especially the fuselage looks different.
The fuselage of the Diana 4 was designed to be aerodynamically perfect by Dr. Krzysztof Kubrynski. He is one of the best in his profession and has designed the aerodynamics for the Diana 2. In addition, the fuselage has an even sleeker silhouette - it is simply beautiful. A comfortable, ergonomic cockpit that achieves the best performance.
Is the wing of the Diana 4 also a fresh design?
Yes, it is. The wing includes the learnings from our champion in the 15-meter class, the Diana 2, and its bigger sister Diana 3.
Schempp Hirth offers two fuselage versions for some of their gliders. What is your approach?
At the moment, work is underway with a universal cockpit. The design assumption - concerning the pilot's silhouette - is that as many as 99% of pilots should fly our Diana 4 in both recreational and high-performance flying without any problems.
The Diana 3 has an FES from LZ design. Is the new Diana 4 engine developed in-house?
Yes. A brand new and Avionic-designed electric self-launch system will be fitted to our new glider.
Do you have some performance data already?
We calculated that the Diana 4 will be able to climb up to 2400 meters. So, after climbing 600 meters after self-launch there will be a range of about 130 km left for coming home. This is the data for the maximum take-off weight of 600 kg. For 425 kg we estimate a climb of 2700 and a range of 150 km.
So the Diana 4 will be able to self-launch at maximum take-off weight? Where are the batteries located?
Yes, it will be able to self-launch at 600 kg. Our batteries are located in the wings.
What is the estimated range of wing loading?
It will be 41 to 59 kg/m².
Well, this should be quite interesting for competition pilots. How is the EASA certification for Diana 4 going?
We are currently working on obtaining a type certificate.
Is the Diana 4 inspired by any other glider?
The new design of the Diana 4 is based on the best aspects of Diana 2 and 3. We modernized and adapted these designs to current trends and requirements of the gliding market. Copying, is not in our nature, as anyone who has seen the Diana 2 can understand.
At the moment, glider prices are increasing rapidly. How much should a glider pilot calculate for a Diana 4?
At the moment, the base price including the electric engine is approximately 185,000 euros plus VAT. We think this pricing is very affordable in comparison to the broader market.
Who is the contact person if you are interested in the new Diana 4 ER?
You can contact us, or one of our agents, on our homepage if you scroll to the bottom.
Other companies have maintenance partners. Are you also interested in such corporations?
We are happy to cooperate with all workshops, we do not discriminate.
We have seen many pictures of Sebastian Kawa at your factory. How is he involved in the project?
Sebastian Kawa has been involved in the development of the Diana 4 from the very beginning. His knowledge is invaluable to the project. He is a technical consultant for the aforementioned project and a test pilot.
Currently, two-seater gliders are experiencing a boom. Will you be entering this segment in the future? You also mentioned on your website, that a 15m Racer is planned.
We are currently focusing on work on the Diana 4 glider. In parallel, we are producing the Diana 2 glider in various versions - from FES-powered to ultralight versions. Once we have delivered these projects, we will reevaluate.
Thank you for the interesting words. Hopefully, we will talk again when Diana 4 ER takes off for the first time.
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