A third super-midsize Continental last month entered flight testing with a 1 hr 53 min flight from Bombardier’s Wichita Flight Test Center. The aircraft is dedicated mostly to avionics testing, including the autopilot, yaw damper, flight management system, EFIS and Eicas. As of December 6, the first Continental had flown 136 hr on 54 flights since August 14.
Part of the certification process of a new aircraft design is completing hundreds of tests to hit thousands of data points for both flight and ground tests. To reduce the time required to complete these tests, OEMs usually dedicate a fleet of aircraft for the certification testing.
Sean Roberts, an experimental test pilot for both military and civilian projects with more than 18,000 flight hours, started the National Test Pilot School (NTPS) in 1980 after receiving requests from the aircraft industry for a school that would address FAA certification requirements.
“Beginning autorotation with left turn.”
“Roger. Autorotate to left.”
After a few moments, during which the MD 600N helicopter plummets toward the ground engaged in a sweeping left turn, the first pilot’s voice comes over the radio. “Recovering.” He recovers at approximately 100 ft over the desert floor.
“Roger. Recover.” This voice belongs to the pilot of the chase aircraft, also an MD helicopter.
In March, Socata appointed Stéphane Jacques as its new chief test pilot. The 44-year-old pilot succeeded Christian Briand, who retired after a 40-year career, 19 of them as a Socata test pilot, logging more than 19,000 flight hours.
A pair of Bell Boeing MV-22 tiltrotor transports have joined the remedial developmental flight-test program that’s hoped to get the cause of tiltrotor operations back on track following a series of fatal accidents and scandalous revelations concerning performance coverups by high-ranking Marine officers. The two new aircraft are part of a gradual ramp-up to a total of seven Ospreys serving the flight-test program now under way at the U.S.
BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has completed four months of test flights in its new Avro RJX85, leaving officials “very confident” of meeting, if not exceeding, the 15- to 20-percent-enhanced fuel burn and other performance-improvement targets set for the 80- to 112-seat quad-jet.
With the Italian government still investigating the cause of the April 22 crash of a prototype Bell/Agusta AB139 helicopter near Monteleone, Rimini, in northern Italy, work toward certification is progressing. Unofficial accounts of the accident investigation point to human factors instead of mechanical failure during a high altitude, low airspeed flight.
Sikorsky’s S-92 medium-twin program has passed another milestone on its way to certification as prototype number four performed two flawless autorotational landings to touchdown recently at the company’s flight development center in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The longer you’ve been around business aviation, the more you’ve witnessed the revolution in the way manufacturers approach the long-term reliability and maintainability of their aircraft. The shrinking maintenance force, combined with the tightening of corporate budgets, is putting the squeeze on OEMs to deliver more capable, reliable and cost-effective aircraft.