Boeing [BA] and partner Saab completed the first flight of their second production-ready T-X aircraft, according to a Boeing statement.
The second T-X aircraft is identical to the first and is designed specifically for the Air Force advanced pilot training requirement. During the one-hour flight, lead T-X test pilot Steve Schmidt and Boeing Test Pilot for Air Force Programs Matt Giese validated key aspects of the aircraft and further demonstrated the design.
Boeing spokeswoman Didi VanNierop said April 25 that the objective of the first flight of the second aircraft was to demonstrate basic functionality of the aircraft systems in flight; basic airworthiness testing, which included cycling the gear. She said the flight demonstrated that both T-X aircraft are identical in flying qualities and handling.
Boeing said the flight of the second T-X aircraft also proved its repeatability in manufacturing. VanNierop said Boeing used the same design, suppliers and manufacturing processes on its first and second jets, which are identical. Subsystem testing, ground testing and now flight test, she said, have all demonstrated consistence of performance. VanNierop said it proves Boeing’s design and approach are solid and ready for production.
VanNierop said the second flight performed remarkably like the first flight of the first aircraft. She said because of Boeing’s confidence in the design, the company completed the flight objectives quickly, including raising and lowering the landing gear several times. No barrel rolls or other high performance maneuvers were performed during the second aircraft’s flight, VanNierop said, as first flight is not intended to perform high-end maneuvers.
VanNierop declined to say the next time T-X would take flight. She said, at this time, Boeing does not intend to make a third production aircraft. The next aircraft Boeing would build, she said, would be in the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase following contract award.
Nothing has changed with Boeing’s ground based training system portion of the program. VanNierop said the ground based trainer has performed well since the beginning and all of the T-X test pilots trained for flight using the complete advanced pilot training system.
There are a number of companies bidding for T-X. In addition to the Boeing-Saab team, Lockheed Martin [LMT]-Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) are teaming while Leonardo and Stavatti Aerospace are also bidding.
Initial operational capability for T-X is scheduled for 2024. VanNierop said Air Force is expected to award the estimated $16 billion contract for an initial 350 aircraft late this year.