Textron AirLand’s prototype Scorpion twin-engine “tactical” jet, which was built by Textron subsidiary Cessna Aircraft, flew for the first time this morning in Wichita. The aircraft, flown by engineering test pilot Dan Hinson and copilot David Sitz, took off from McConnell Air Force Base and conducted “a range of handling maneuvers” for nearly an hour-and-a-half, completing the flight at 10:30 a.m. Central Time. The joint-venture company had delayed the flight for several days because of weather in Wichita.
Last Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, was one of those perfect Northern California late-autumn days, and it was a day off so I took my stepfather Dennis flying. Although he has a private pilot certificate he no longer flies. But every time I visit he asks if I can take him flying. This time, the answer was “Yes,” instead of the usual, “No, because I’m not checked out at any of the local airplane rental companies.”
A Cessna 208B Grand Caravan operated by Tropicair crashed November 25 in the Gulf province of Papua New Guinea killing three of 10 on board. The Caravan pilot was among the seven survivors. The airplane was on a domestic flight from Kikori to Gobe when it crashed into a river near an airstrip, possibly during an emergency-landing attempt.
Brazil’s civil aviation authority, Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC), approved Blackhawk’s XP42A performance upgrade for the Cessna 208A Caravan. ANAC’s certification follows similar approval from the FAA in June that permits the engine upgrade on the Cessna 208A in the U.S. The XP42A mod includes a new 850-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A; Hartzell four-blade propeller; composite cowling; high-efficiency inlet duct; larger oil cooler; and two new exhaust stacks. Blackhawk claims the package increases climb rate by 24 percent and cruise speed by 9 percent.
Textron AirLand aims to fly the first prototype of its Scorpion light attack/ISR jet in the first week of December. The aircraft is currently undergoing final checks, and is scheduled to fly following the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. A joint venture between Textron and AirLand Enterprises, the Scorpion has been secretly under construction at Textron subsidiary Cessna’s Wichita plant. The project began in January 2012, but was not made public until September this year.
While the business aviation world cautiously waits to see if the signs of recovery in the traditional markets of Europe and North America bear fruit, the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are looking elsewhere to satisfy demand for growth. While the Far East and Latin America offer encouragement, it is Africa that offers the best opportunities for increased sales, but the continent also has its own unique set of challenges.
Once again I was reminded that I never stop learning about flying. This time it was a fuel-injected Cessna Skyhawk, which stubbornly refused to start after I landed and taxied to the gas pump to fill it up before putting it away. It was a gorgeous day in Southern California, light winds, incredible visibility and a fun flight out of Santa Monica Airport.
After recently concluding all high-speed certification flights, the FAA has validated the Mach 0.935 maximum operating speed for Cessna’s new Citation X.
Alexander Mikheev has been named CEO of Russian Helicopters. He previously served as deputy CEO of Rosoboronexport, Russia’s weapon export agency.