U.S. aerospace giant Boeing has confirmed that the newest T-X trainer aircraft, developed in collaboration with Saab, completed its first flight under the engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) program.
The first EMD sortie, which was announced by the company on 1 July, involved Boeing T-X (BTX) aircraft N381TX flying out of the company’s St Louis facility in Missouri.
No details were disclosed as to the nature or duration of the flight test, although Boeing’s Chief T-X Test Pilot, Steve ‘Bull’ Schmidt, noted, “[It] went extremely well. She flew just superb [during the] first flight [of the] EMD test programme. [The] first test points went off without a hitch.”
“New Boeing T-X takes to the air and is flying high in support of the U.S. Air Force contract,” said on Twitter, pointing to a begin of EMD flight trials is an important milestone for the program.
With two EMD aircraft so far built (Boeing has been keen to stress that these are not prototypes, in the traditional sense of the word, but fully configured platforms), 71 test flights were flown between December 2016 and December 2018. Since then, Boeing and Saab have been analysing the data ahead of the commencement of EMD flight trials.
Boeing T-X is an all-new advanced pilot training system designed specifically for the U.S. Air Force training mission. It includes trainer aircraft, ground-based training and support – designed together from the ground up.
The T-X aircraft has one engine, twin tails, stadium seating and an advanced cockpit with embedded training. The system also offers state-of-the-art ground-based training and a maintenance-friendly design for long-term supportability.
The BTX features a single General Electric Aviation GE 404 engine, a large-area display (LAD) cockpit, and open-architecture system. The USAF is due to receive 350 aircraft to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon that has been in service since the 1960s.
With the first aircraft set to be delivered to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in 2023, initial operational capability (IOC) is scheduled for 2024. Production at the newly established facility in Indiana will be set at approximately 60 aircraft per year.
T-X will replace the Air Force’s aging T-38 aircraft. Initial operating capability is planned for 2024.
Boeing is now clear to begin placing orders with its suppliers, including Saab. More than 90 percent of Boeing’s offering will be made in America, supporting more than 17,000 jobs in 34 states.
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