MIDWEEK UPDATE 25 JUNE 2014
1 Plan your weekend
2 Forthcoming events
3 Memorial service for fallen 41 Squadron pilots
4 The Scorpion two-seat intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and strike aircraft
5 S-97 RAIDER™ Helicopter Powered On for First Time
6 Les Whittlesey's Lockheed 12, NC18906
7 Gripen: premier flight for self-protection system ESTL
8 Production progressing as Honda Aircraft prepares for HondaJet into service
9 X3 high-speed demonstrator: a new home at France's national Air and Space museum
10 Rate Card
5 July: Ulundi airshow KZN Winter Air Tour. Contact John Neilon 082 485 5514 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Gerna Fraser 031 563 9165 e-mail: email@example.com
5 July: SAAF Museum flying training and open days. Contact Capt. Kobus Kapp 012 351 2342 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
11-12 July. Brits Flying Club 60th birthday celebrations. For bookings please contact Johan Booyens at email@example.com or 071 444 0928.
17 to 20 July: SAC Nationals - venue TBA. Contact Annie Boon e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
18 to 20 July: Taildraggers to Nylstroom fly-in. Contact Richard Nicholson Nylstroom Flying Club 082 490 6227
19 & 20 July: Parys Time Trials and flour bombing competition - Golden Oldies & Microlights. Contact Scully Levin E-mail: email@example.com
26 July: Breakfast Fly-In. 29 Zandfontein in Brits, North West. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for co-ordinates
28 July-3 Aug: EAA's annual AirVenture to be held in Oshkosh USA. Camping on the airfield contact Neil Bowden e-mail: email@example.com
2 August: SAAF Museum flying training and open days. Contact Capt. Kobus Kapp 012 351 2342 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
6 -10 August: Race of Champions - Ulundi airfield. Contact Mariska at AirTeam e-mail: Mariska@airteam.co.za
17 August: Grand Rand airshow. Contact Stuart Coetzee 011 827 8884 E-mail: Carolyn@randairport.co.za
Garth Calitz Reporting.
The Department of Defence hosted a memorial service for the three pilots who tragically lost their lives in a Cessna Caravan accident on the 17th June 2014.
Major Tsepo Malia, Capatain Francois Hugo and Captain Marcelino Wembie were participating in an operational training camp in the mountains near Lydenburg when tragedy struck. The aircraft caring the three deceased pilots and two ground crew members crashed in the mountains at approximately 8:00 am. The two ground crew members are recovering in 1 Military Hospital after initially being airlifted to a Nelspruit hospital. The Chief of the Air Force Lt Gen Msimang has appointed a board of inquiry to investigate the cause of this tragic incident.
The very well attended service was held in 28 Squadron hangar at AFB Waterkloof. Col (Rev) Makalima welcomed all the bereaved family members before opening with a hymn and prayer.
LtGen. Msimang addressed all and thanked the families for the patriotism and sacrifice of the deceased members. Gen Msimang promised the families that the cause of the accident will be revealed as soon as possible.
Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Mr E.R.K Maphatsoe addressed the congregation praising the bravery and loyalty to service shown by the three deceased and all others involved in the rescue and recovery mission.
Col(Rev) Makalima delivered a scripture reading and a very moving sermon which hopefully brought some comfort to the families and friends. A very emotional candle lighting ceremony by the families for each of the fallen members individually was followed by a respectful two minutes silence.
Deputy Minister Maphatsoe, General Yengeni chief of the SANDF and General Msimang laid wreaths at the photographs of the each fallen member.
A representative of the families then addressed the congregation thanking everyone for the support during this difficult time.
The SAAF Choir closed the service with a very moving hymn, as the families left the hangar escorted by chaplain staff, who have been with the families since the tragic accident.
The families and invited guests were invited to attend the "Handing over of the Mortal Remains" parade. The three flagged draped coffins were "slow marched" to awaiting hearses accompanied by the SAAF Band. Members of 41 Squadron paid their respects by performing a missing man formation fly past in four Cessna Caravans.
They shall mount up with wings as eagles
Put out a hand and touch the face of God
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
IT WAS A COLD AND CRYSTAL CLEAR morning in December when the Scorpion rolled down the runway at McConnell Air Force Base in central Kansas, gathered speed and took off for the first time. "We were up fast," recalls test pilot Dan Hinson. Despite being "within a couple thousand pounds of our maximum weight," the new twin-engine jet seemed to leap into the sky as if eager to fly. "It's a very powerful airplane," Hinson says. The Scorpion is a two-seat intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)/strike aircraft that its developers, Textron Inc. and AirLand Enterprises, hope will be roaring down runways at Air National Guard bases across the country in the not-too-distant future. It's an aircraft designed for the emerging post-Iraq and Afghanistan, budget-constrained era, they say. It's inexpensive to buy, a bargain to operate and able to perform multiple missions. It was designed, built and flown in less than 24 months using mostly composite materials and commercial off-the-shelf technology, characteristics that Textron and AirLand hope will appeal to Pentagon procurement reformers who have been crying for years for innovative approaches to producing more affordable aircraft.
With defence budgets shrinking, Textron and AirLand officials tout the Scorpion as a cost-conscious multi-tasker that's ideal for the Air Guard. But can the Air Force, which hopes to retire hundreds of planes, or Congress, which is cutting defense budgets, be convinced to buy? The planes are expected to be priced at below $20 million apiece, according to Bill Anderson, the president of the Textron AirLand joint venture, and they'll cost $2,500 to $3,000 an hour to fly, says retired Maj. Gen. Paul Weaver, a former Air Guard director. Weaver serves as a senior advisor on the Scorpion project and is a lobbyist for AirLand Enterprises.
Compare that to the $9,000 plus it costs to operate an A-10, or the $15,000 hourly cost of flying an F-16, Weaver says. "When you look at the number of hours being flown, the savings are incredible." The Scorpion "is cheaper [per hour] than a Predator" remotely piloted vehicle, Weaver says. "But this aircraft can not only do what the Predator can do, but 65 percent of the F-35's mission, too, at less than $20 million per copy."
That's an intriguing sales pitch, but Anderson is quick to note that the Scorpion is not intended to compete with high-performance fighters. Its top speed of 517 mph and its ability to pull six Gs fall far short of the F-16's 1,300- mph speed and 9-G strength. And while the Scorpion's speed and G strength is comparable to the A-10's, its payload is much smaller and it lacks the Warthog's legendary seven-barrel Gatling gun.
The Scorpion was designed to be a low-cost, very capable, multimission aircraft, he says. "It's a concept the Total Air Force needs to examine," says Maj. Michael Edwards, the Colorado adjutant general and vice president for air issues of the Adjutants General Association of the United States (AGAUS). "Depending on how the concept works out," if the Scorpion has the precision weapons and ISR capabilities that Textron AirLand claims, "the aircraft could compare very favourably to the F-16 and the A-10," he says.
"When I look at Colorado with the type of mission we have here for aerospace control alert, you want dash speed to get somewhere quick," Edwards says. "You would definitely prefer an F-16 for getting there quickly. If speed is not quite as important, you might want to use a Scorpion to have continued presence."
The cool thing about the Scorpion is that private industry has come forward with the concept without Air Force funding or backing
Textron AirLand lists six missions for the plane: border security; maritime security; counter narcotics; disaster response; aerospace control against low, slow airborne threats; and irregular warfare support. The plane is intended for use in "U.S. homeland security and permissive threat environment missions," the company says. The Scorpion's ISR capabilities are emphasized. The plane comes with a high-definition infrared and electro-optical camera system that's capable of beaming real-time video to military commanders on the ground, to other aircraft and to emergency responders.
The plane has an 82 cubic-foot internal payload bay that can accommodate 3,000 pounds of surveillance and electronic warfare gear, and its twin jet engines generate plenty of electrical power to run and cool ISR systems, says Whitten Peters, a former Air Force secretary and now advisor and investor in AirLand Enterprises. "A lot of airframes run out of power for modern ISR" equipment and weapons, Peters says.
For armaments, the Scorpion has six hard points on its wings for carrying up to 3,100 pounds of munitions, Textron AirLand says. The plane can accommodate Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, heatseeking air-to-air missiles and a variety of guided and unguided bombs. And the plane can also be fitted with a pod-mounted gun. Thus armed, the Scorpion is ready for close-air support and armed reconnaissance missions in irregular warfare, Textron Air- Land says.
The plane has a straight wing, similar to the A-10s, which provides good control when flying at low speeds. If confronted by low, slow-flying threats, the Scorpion "can fly below 100 knots and still maintain its maneuverability," Anderson says. So in the domestic airspace defense role, it can chase a slow-flying small plane or helicopter. "Fourth-generation fighters have trouble with that," he says. "Today, those things that can dash can't fly slow, and those that can fly slow can't dash."
But the Scorpion can do both, Peters says. It can take off and dash to intercept a threat, and then slow down to remain with it or attack it. Textron AirLand also boasts of the plane's endurance. For disaster- response missions, the plane can sprint to the disaster area and then operate overhead for five hours shooting and transmitting video and serving as a communications node for first responders on the ground. With its infrared and optical cameras, it could search for hours for flood victims, downed aircraft or lost hikers, Peters says.
The plane's endurance and ability to carry a variety of sensors and communications gear also make it ideal for patrolling the U.S. borders, observing drug smugglers and patrolling territorial waters, Textron AirLand says. It can shoot "full-motion video records that meet the legal standards of international courts," the company says.
The Scorpion is 43 feet, six inches long and has a 47-foot, four inch wingspan. It weighs 11,800 pounds empty and 21,250 pounds fully loaded. That makes it quite a bit smaller and a lot lighter than an A-10, which is 53 feet, four inches long, has a 57-foot, six-inch wingspan and weighs 29,000 pounds empty and 51,000 pounds fully fueled and armed. The F-16 is 49 feet, five inches long and has a 32-foot, eight-inch wingspan and weighs 19,700 pounds empty and 37,500 pounds fully loaded. The Scorpion's twin Honeywell TF731 engines each produce about 4,000 pounds of thrust. By comparison, the A-10's two engines each produce about 9,000 pounds of thrust and the F-16's single engine produces 27,000 pounds of thrust.
Scorpion is a two-seat aircraft that can be flown from either seat. "There are full flight controls in the front and in the back," says Hinson, the test pilot. This means one pilot can do most of the flying while the other operates ISR sensors or other equipment. The tandem cockpit arrangement could also prove advantageous for foreign sales, where most customers prefer a two-seat configuration, says Peters.
To keep production costs down and speed development time, Textron AirLand borrowed heavily from Textron's subsidiary, Cessna. Seventy percent of the Scorpion's parts are Cessna's, another 21 percent are commercially available and 9 percent are built solely for the Scorpion, the company says.
"The Defence Department has been talking about bringing commercial best practices [to weapons programs] for years," says Anderson. "Textron did it," taking the Scorpion from an idea on paper to a flyable aircraft in less than two years. "It was a fairly incredible development cycle. We did not spend money for five or 10 years getting to first flight."
"The cool thing about the Scorpion is that private industry has come forward with the concept without Air Force funding or backing, and they got the plane flying, they're doing the testing and they're offering a solution," Edwards says. "I admire Textron AirLand for pushing through with the concept."
Reaction from others in the Air Guard has also been positive, Weaver says. And the Air Force would benefit, too, he says. "We hear all the time, 'Why does the governor of a state need fighter aircraft?' Well, he doesn't. It is the Air Force that needs them," and it needs them in the Air Guard to keep combat power up while pushing operating costs down, he says. And because the Scorpion offers "capabilities specifically made for homeland defence and homeland security, this is a fighter the governor actually does need."
The Scorpion was designed to be a low-cost, very capable, multi-mission aircraft
Budgets may not be the only problem for the Scorpion, according to aircraft industry analyst Richard Aboulafia. With the Scorpion, Textron AirLand is trying to solve "a problem that does not exist." For the attack mission, the A-10 is "far more effective at destroying land targets than the Scorpion would be," and for the ISR mission, the Air Force already has relatively new MC-12Ws, he says.
As an innovative aircraft, the Scorpion "is not a bad idea," Aboulafia says. But for the missions Textron AirLand is aiming at, "it seems a bit of a frugal luxury." There's another possibility. A modified Scorpion might serve as a replacement for the T-38 trainer. But to work as a trainer, the Scorpion would need more powerful engines and a swept wing, Aboulafia says. Both would boost the plane's speed.
The most promising market might be overseas sales.
"Numerous" foreign militaries have already expressed interest in the Scorpion, Weaver says. He said he couldn't identify potential customers while negotiations are underway. Anderson says Textron AirLand is in talks "with two fairly sophisticated air forces" overseas, and "we're beyond initial discussions already."
Textron AirLand notes that there are 68 foreign counties affiliated with the Guard through the State Partnership Program that might be potential buyers. "When we did market analysis early on, we identified over 50 countries" that could need thousands of aircraft worth billions of dollars, Anderson says. The international market "could be 2,000 to 3,000 aircraft over 10 years."
Next-Gen Rotorcraft Moves Closer to First Flight
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp announced it has turned on electrical power for the first time to the S-97 RAIDER™ prototype helicopter, signaling successful installation of the avionics system and a major step toward completing the assembly of the new - and first - light tactical rotorcraft featuring X2 Technology™. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).
The key milestone on the first of two aircraft planned to be built in the RAIDER program took place May 28, 2014, at Sikorsky's Development Flight Centre where the aircraft is being assembled. The successful powering on means that the cockpit multifunction displays and control display unit (CDU) are operational, as are the CDU controlled electronic circuit breakers. The aircraft will undergo electrical power and avionics Acceptance Test Procedures (ATPs) for the next several weeks, to complete the checkout of the remaining avionics, electrical, and flight control systems.
"This is a big milestone for a development program; the aircraft comes to life when power goes on," said S-97 RAIDER Program Manager Mark Hammond. He also noted that several RAIDER suppliers played a critical role in achieving the "power on" milestone, including the Sikorsky Avionics Product Center, Esterline-Korry, Esterline-Mason, United Technologies Aerospace Systems (UTAS), Lockheed Martin, Garmin, Avionics Instruments, BAE, Honeywell, Pacific Scientific, Northrup Grumman, Meggitt, and LMS.
The aircraft is about halfway through the assembly process, with several key components in production and scheduled to be installed in the next few months.
"This is next-generation rotorcraft taking shape, with an aggressive schedule for getting air under the tires of the first RAIDER helicopter before the end of the year," said Mark Miller, vice president of Research & Engineering. "We are making great progress, and in the meantime are keeping our interested customers keenly aware of the exceptional performance that this aircraft will bring. We are really looking forward to showing its value to the U.S. military."
The RAIDER is targeted to fly by the end of 2014. Sikorsky plans to demonstrate the aircraft's capabilities to the U.S. military beginning in 2015.
The S-97 RAIDER helicopter is a revolutionary rotorcraft that will deliver X2 Technology in a new light tactical rotorcraft designed to outmatch conventional military helicopters in speed, manoeuvrability, and high altitude operations. The fly-by-wire controlled helicopter will feature counter-rotating rigid main rotor blades for lift and forward flight, and a pusher propeller for high speed acceleration and deceleration.
The aircraft is about halfway through the assembly process, with several key components in production and scheduled to be installed in the next few months. Photo copyright Sikorsky
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Connecticut, is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture, and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Connecticut, provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.
This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning opportunities for development, production and sale of helicopters. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in government procurement priorities and practices, budget plans, availability of funding and in the type and number of aircraft required; challenges in the design, development, production and support of advanced technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in United Technologies Corporation's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
Worldwide there are about two dozen surviving Lockheed 12s out of the 126 built Photo by Jim Koepnick
It's always great to see a freshly polished Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior on the flight line at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, and some years you'll be lucky to see two. But this year visitors to the World's Greatest Aviation Celebration could see seven of the iconic golden age executive transport airplanes parked together in the Vintage area, and there's a chance as many as eight or nine could show up. That could set some sort of modern day record for the number of Lockheed 12s together at one time, says one of plane's owners trying to make it happen.
"In 2007 we were able to gather three L-12s in one place on the West Coast," said Les Whittlesey of Coto de Caza, California, EAA 409631/Vintage 20553. Whittlesey is the proud owner of NC18906, SN 1277 - an airplane manufactured in 1939 that won a Gold Lindy in 2006. The airplane was also featured in the August 2007 EAA Vintage Airplane magazine.
"But we could never get more than three together at a time," he said. "The last time there were this many together was probably at the factory." Worldwide there are about two dozen surviving Lockheed 12s out of the 126 built in the late 1930s and early 1940s, so being able to assemble this many at one time is quite an achievement.
First owner of Whittlesey's airplane was EL Cord, who used to own Stinson, Lycoming, and the Cord Automobile Company. The airplane served in the lend-lease program with the British out of Hendon, England, in World War II. He acquired the airplane in 2002 and after a three-year restoration won the Lindy, the Paul E. Garber Trophy at Reno in 2006, and the 2007 Sun 'n Fun Antique Grand Champion.
This year visitors to the World's Greatest Aviation Celebration could see seven of the iconic golden age executive transport airplanes parked together in the Vintage area. Photo copyright EAA
The other Lockheed 12s planning to be in Oshkosh this year include:
David Marco, EAA 267503/Vintage 721330, from Atlantic Beach, Florida, owns NC18097, SN 1270, which was built in 1938 and won the 2012 Antique Gold Lindy. The airplane was first owned by Phillips Petroleum Company where it served as a corporate aircraft for a couple of decades.
Peter Ramm, EAA 661969/Vintage 719271, plans to fly in from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, with his CF-LKD, SN 1222, built in 1937. First owner was Varney Transport, which became Continental Airlines and this airplane was one of its first airliners. Was used by the Canadian military during WWII, after which was sold to Texaco and then to Noble Corporation, where it remained through 1966 until it was acquired by C.W. Darden III for $15,000. Ramm became the owner in 2007.
Joe Shepherd, EAA 386618/Vintage 17106, of Fayetteville, Georgia, owns N2072, SN 1208, that was built it 1936 and won the 2007 Antique Outstanding Transport award. Shepherd acquired the airplane in 1988. Along with the 2007 EAA award, it was Grand Champion-Classic at the 2007 AAA/APM Fly-In, Blakesburg, Iowa.
Three other confirmed attendees are Patrick Donovan of Seattle, Washington, with his N14999, SN 1252; Uwanna Perras of Morrisville, Vermont, with N2633, SN 1281, built in 1940; and John O'Keefe's 1940 Lockheed N25628, SN 1286, coming from Winthrop, Washington.
ESTL is an efficient self-protection system for virtually any type of fixed-wing aircraft where ESTL is installable on a mission-to-mission basis. Depending on mission profile, ESTL can be configured for different threat scenarios. ESTL provides covert sustainable pre-emptive dispensing, missile warning, forward firing of flares and cocktail dispensing.
"ESTL offers enhanced survivability in combat and conflict situations. Traditional Countermeasures may encounter difficulties with the latest generation of AAMs and SAMs, but the ESTL concept includes a module of forward firing flares. This, together with the missile approach warning sensors and an optional chaff capability, makes ESTL a powerful shield against the latest missile developments," says Carl-Johan Bergholm, Head of Business Unit Electronic Warfare Systems at Saab.
A standard, AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM, missile interface makes it possible to share ESTL units among the aircraft of an entire fleet. Mass and aerodynamics are on par with the missiles, which substantially simplifies integration and certification.
"This successful first flight is an important step for the ESTL project and we look forward to continuing test flights and increased customer interest in many countries worldwide," says Carl-Johan Bergholm
Honda Aircraft Company's most important goals are achieving Federal Aviation Administration Type Certification and delivering the first customer aircraft. Photo © Hondajet
Honda Aircraft Company announced several achievements and milestones in the development of the HondaJet during a press conference at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland. The company revealed the first production HondaJet. The aircraft is ready for ground tests and features a new paint scheme, a deep pearl green with a gold stripe. The company also shared its progress in preparation for HondaJet entry into service.
"Honda Aircraft Company's most important goals are achieving Federal Aviation Administration Type Certification and delivering the first customer aircraft," said Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino. "Our total effort is focused on reaching these much anticipated milestones in the first quarter of 2015."
First production HondaJet debuts with new Colour
The first production aircraft is in final assembly with the first set of production GE Honda HF120 engines recently delivered to Honda Aircraft. The engines have been installed, and Honda Aircraft will soon begin conducting ground tests on the airplane. Its first flight is anticipated this summer. The aircraft debuts a new exterior paint scheme in a deep pearl green with a gold stripe. With its debut, all five exterior color options are represented in the HondaJet fleet. The deep green finish will be offered in addition to the vibrant silver, red, yellow and blue exterior colours currently available to appeal to a variety of customer preferences.
Production readies for deliveries
HondaJet production continues its steady pace in advance of entry into service with nine aircraft on the final assembly line. Four aircraft have been mated to their wings and empennages, and production is on schedule to have 10 aircraft on the final assembly line in June. This steady build up supports Honda Aircraft Company's objective to have aircraft ready for delivery immediately after type certification is achieved next year.
"The HondaJet production line is maturing with efficient and robust processes in place to build high quality aircraft," said Fujino. "From handheld tablets that deliver worker instructions to an automatic guided cart to pick up and deliver parts, we continue to integrate the latest technology into our production process to create an efficient workflow."
The steady build up supports Honda Aircraft Company's objective to have aircraft ready for delivery immediately after type certification is achieved next year. Photograph copyright Willie Bodenstein
Certification and testing
Following the FAA's issuance of Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) for the HondaJet, the program has begun testing with FAA pilot participation. Several certification tests by FAA pilots were conducted under this final phase. Examples are:
- Stall speed, stall characteristics and stall warning system: Tests were conducted under various flight conditions. During testing, the stall warning system (stick shaker attached to the yoke) and stall protection system (stick pusher that provides automatic stall recovery) were evaluated. Cockpit indications for airspeed, altitude and ambient temperature were also validated.
- Wheels, tires and brake control system tests: Normal anti-skid brake control systems were evaluated in both wet and dry runway conditions. Emergency brake system testing also demonstrated aircraft braking capability during degraded system operations.
- Flap actuation system and speed brake operation throughout the flight envelope: Testing demonstrated aircraft flap and speed brake operation at limit speeds and maximum load factor.
- Hydraulic system control tests were conducted during normal, abnormal and degraded operations: The hydraulic system was demonstrated at the maximum operating altitude and after extended periods of high-altitude cold soaking.
- In-flight fire suppression system: This testing was conducted at critical flight conditions for both speed and temperature.
Honda Aircraft Company's most important goals are achieving Federal Aviation Administration Type Certification and delivering the first customer aircraft. Photo copyright Willie Bodenstein
FAA Full-Scale Fatigue Testing: The ground structural test program has completed more than 2,000 cycles so far in advance of entry into service. This is equivalent to more than five years of use for typical business jet operators. Testing examined the airframe's fatigue strength under simulated in-flight operations derived from theoretical load spectra and mission profiles.
The tests evaluated the effects of vertical and lateral manoeuvres; vertical and lateral gust; landing; taxi; Ground-Air-Ground (GAG) and fuselage pressure cycle on the aircraft. This testing was conducted at Honda Aircraft Company's R&D facility in Greensboro, N.C., using a sophisticated structural test system that can simultaneously operate 73 hydraulic actuators and cabin pressurization in a closed loop digital control system using force, pressure or displacement as the feedback parameters.
Major industry supplier to participate in the HondaJet program
Honda Aircraft Company also announced at EBACE that Fokker Aerostructures will supply the empennage structure for the HondaJet. Fokker was selected based on its expertise in the manufacturing of tail sections for business jets with a global supply chain network.
Headquartered in Papendrecht, the Netherlands, Fokker Technologies operates facilities in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Romania, Turkey, Singapore and China. The company provides a range of integrated aerospace systems and services to top commercial and business aviation manufacturers worldwide.
The ground structural test program has completed more than 2,000 cycles so far in advance of entry into service. This is equivalent to more than five years of use for typical business jet operators. Photo copyright Willie Bodenstein
The HondaJet ownership experience: flight and maintenance training
Honda Aircraft is putting significant effort and investment into pilot and maintenance training for customers. Working with FlightSafety International, Honda Aircraft is currently developing flight and maintenance training curriculums with maintenance training classes scheduled to begin later this year in Greensboro, N.C. The first flight simulator for flight training is complete and software integration is underway. Flight training with this simulator will include type rating and recurrent pilot training programs for both single and multi-crew operations. Training will be provided at Honda Aircraft Company's world headquarters and will start before entry into service.
Continued company growth - more than 1,000 people working at Honda aircraft
Honda Aircraft marked a significant milestone earlier this year with its 1,000th team member joining the company. The company's growing workforce represents more than 43 countries and reflects the aviation industry's top talent in engineering, manufacturing, sales and service.
"Honda Aircraft Company, along with our worldwide network of dealers and suppliers, are working together to support a seamless transition to customers," said Fujino. "Our goal is to have everything ready before the first delivery. We are committed through our network to deliver the best ownership experience from day one.
The X3will be exhibited in the musée de l'Air et de l'Espace's hangar facilities at Paris-Le Bourget airport, being strategically located with other high-speed legends - Europe's supersonic Concorde jetliners.
"We welcome this illustrious addition to France's leading aviation museum, where our collection includes other historic rotorcraft from Airbus Helicopters' lineage - like the S.A. 3210-01 Super Frelon, which 50 years earlier set a world speed record of 350 km/hr," explained Catherine Maunoury, CEO of the musée de l'Air et de l'Espace and twice world aerobatics champion. "The X3 continues a tradition of excellence at Airbus Helicopters, building on decades of innovation, research and development."
Airbus Helicopters pursued the X3 development as part of self-funded company efforts to evolve rotorcraft that offer new ways to perform missions, fly faster and farther, and reduce operating and maintenance costs. The X3, known as a hybrid helicopter, demonstrated the company's high-speed, long-range, Hybrid Helicopter (H3) concept.
"It is appropriate that the X3 is joining other renowned aircraft at the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace that have helped shape the aviation industry, especially since from its conception, it showed Airbus Helicopters' entrepreneurial drive to deliver a viable demonstrator to serve our customers' high-speed requirements," said Airbus Helicopters Executive Vice President Global Business & Services, Dominique Maudet.
From its maiden take-off in September 2010 to its retirement in 2013, the X3 fully validated Airbus Helicopters' hybrid concept, using a pair of turboshaft engines to power both a five-blade helicopter main rotor and two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings.
X3 high-speed demonstrator: a new home at France's national Air and Space museum. Photo © Anthony Pecchi - 2013
During more than 155 hours logged by the aircraft in 199 flights, milestones achieved included a level flight speed of 255 knots (472 km/hr) on June 7, 2013 - surpassing previous high speeds reached by a helicopter. While exploring the full flight envelope in cruise, climb, at altitude and during descent, the X3 validated this high-speed concept's qualities - including outstanding stability, intuitive piloting characteristics, as well as low vibration levels without the need for anti-vibration systems.
The X3 also served as an ambassador of innovation during a demo tour in the U.S. in the summer of 2012 to demonstrate this advanced high-speed transportation system's unique operational capabilities for both civil and military operators. The final stop at Washington D.C., where the X3 landed on the helipad of the Pentagon, marked a symbolic moment in the X3's frontier-pushing history. Three months later, the X3 was in the spotlight at the ILA Berlin air show where it participated in flight demonstrations and gave European aficionados an up-close look at its unique characteristics.
Airbus Helicopters foresees a wide range of potential applications for a hybrid helicopter configuration that may be developed from the X3 concept, offering an advanced, cost-effective vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) transportation system with speeds of a turboprop-powered aircraft and the full-flight capabilities of a helicopter. Its applications could include long-distance search and rescue (SAR) operations, coast guard missions, border patrol flights, passenger transport and off-shore airlift, along with inter-city shuttle services.
The combination of higher cruise speeds and excellent VTOL performance also is well-suited for military missions, such as special forces operations, troop transport, combat SAR and medical evacuation. The X3 concept is particularly well suited for missions requiring long transit flights at high speeds, while retaining full vertical lift and hover capabilities - all at a very affordable cost.
The X3 resulted from a rapid-paced program that utilized one of Airbus Helicopters' Dauphin helicopters as the airframe, providing a test platform with a maximum take-off weight of 5,200 kg. In addition to the more symbolic aspect of achieving record velocities for a rotorcraft, the X3's flight evaluations enabled Airbus Helicopters to further explore the behaviour of main rotors at high speeds, while also assessing the effectiveness in drag optimization.
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