Sino Swearingen president and CEO Jack Braly made his first flight in the conforming prototype SJ30-2 in early September from San Antonio International Airport. Braly, who had previously flown the preproduction SJ30-2 before it was retired two years ago, is an accomplished pilot with extensive flight time in Beechjets. He flew the airplane accompanied by Sino Swearingen test pilot Carroll Beeler.
Originally scheduled for two hours, the flight was cut in half by the appearance of low clouds (the SJ30-2 is not yet certified for instrument flight, and its test boom pitot system must be kept free of visible moisture).
“It’s going to be everything we’ve promised,” Braly said as he climbed out of the aircraft after the one-hour flight. “Clearly we’ve got some development work to do, but it handles great and it’s definitely a hot rod when you push the power levers forward.”
Braly pronounced the airplane’s handling characteristics as “very similar to the nonconforming prototype–which is good news.” The previous prototype had been test-flown for almost 400 flight hours, examining flight characteristics at both low and high altitudes throughout the speed range.
One improvement Braly praised was a newly designed landing gear, which is seven inches higher and almost a foot wider on the conforming prototype.
“Its wider stance and increased stiffness provide more stability and better ground handling,” he said, “which is what it was designed to do. The trailing link design made for a very smooth touchdown, even in a 15-knot crosswind. This airplane will help make the pilot look good.”
The $5.1 million entry-level jet is powered by Williams International FJ44-2As developing 2,300 lb of thrust, and is projecting high-speed cruise at 0.80M (460 kt). The aircraft is configured for six passengers plus the pilot and can maintain an 1,800-ft cabin at its 49,000-ft maximum operating altitude. With pilot plus three passengers, the SJ30-2 has an NBAA IFR range of 2,500 nm.
The conforming prototype is the first of three SJ30-2s that will be used in the FAA certification flight-test program. The next two aircraft are scheduled to begin flying early next year, and certification is anticipated before the end of next year, with deliveries beginning in mid-2003.
Production aircraft will be assembled at Sino Swearingen’s Martinsburg, W.Va. plant, and the company will maintain administrative, marketing and engineering operations in San Antonio.