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Boeing’s T-X Takes First Flight

Takes First Flight

Boeing’s T-X trainer candidate loved the skies initially on Tuesday.

During the 55-minute flight, Boeing test pilot Steven Schmidt and Dan Draeger, the company’s chief pilot for Air Force programs, validated the performance from the single-engine, twin-tailed plane jointly produced by Boeing and Swedish aerospace manufacturer Saab.

After the crew administered extensive ground checks, the plane shot to popularity and climbed 10,000 feet in altitude. Schmidt and Draeger conducted handling checks, tested backup systems and flew at speeds of 231 knots before landing, Schmidt told reporters inside a Dec. 20 conference call.

“I’ve been an element of this team since the beginning, and it really was exciting being the first person to train and fly,” Schmidt said. “The aircraft met all expectations. It’s properly designed and will be offering superior handling characteristics. The cockpit is intuitive, spacious and adjustable, so things are within easy reach.”

“It would be a smooth flight as well as a successful test mission,” Draeger, who sat inside instructor’s seat, stated inside a news release. “I had a great all-around view during the entire flight in the instructor’s seat, which can be critical during training.”

The flight was a moment of jubilation for Boeing, which began developing its T-X design with Saab three years ago, said Boeing’s T-X program manager Ted Torgerson. Since then the team worked as a chef through system requirements review, preliminary design review, critical design review, ground tests and finally flying considered one of its two demonstrator planes. The first flight from the second jet is placed for early 2017.

“We went from CDR to first flight in yr. We don’t accomplish that a lot at the Boeing Company,” Torgerson said. “I don’t want to say it has not been done, but also for a manned aircraft to undergo a complete production-ready design, which is as quicly so when efficient as we’ve ever been through it.”

Typically a development program takes 6 to 8 years, said Eddy De la Motte, Saab deputy program manager. “We’ve cut that in two.”

After data in the first flight is analyzed from the engineering team, Schmidt hopes to conduct additional test flights inside next few days, he said.

The Boeing-Saab collaboration could be the last in the four major prime contractors to get flown its offering, heading out just days ahead of the Air Force is placed to discharge its final get proposals,which Torgerson said is expected to be issued around Dec. 30.

Northrop Grumman purportedly flew its clean-sheet design in August, although the company won’t confirm press reports. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, however, are proposing modified versions of foreign trainers already in service. Lockheed and KAI’s T-50A, a variant in the T-50, flew for the first time this June. Meanwhile, Raytheon, which partnered with CAE, Honeywell and Leonardo, began flight testing its T-100 august. That aircraft is based on Leonardo’s M-346.

Aviation Week recently reported that Sierra Nevada Corp. and Turkish Aerospace Industries want to propose their unique aircraft for the T-X competition and have a prototype in development. Sierra Nevada has not taken care of immediately repeated requests for comment.

Despite the late begin flight tests in comparison to the majority of its competitors, Schmidt and Torgerson said they’re confident the Boeing-Saab team are able to expand the flight envelope from the aircraft and capture test data required with the Air Force.

“I think our biggest challenge this is we’re in St. Louis in the winter time,” Schmidt joked. “But apart from that, we have got a pretty clear road to receive the data we require in the time allotted.”

If the RFP is released on Dec. 30, they can have until June 30 to submit its flight performance data towards the Air Force. Its initial proposal will be due three months earlier, on March. 30, Torgerson notes.

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