31st March 2017 has been quite a momentous day for the aviation industry! Three major aircraft manufacturers – Airbus, Antonov & Boeing – were involved in major milestones with the maiden flights of their latest aircraft. Let’s take an indepth look at the day’s events!
The latest member of European giant Airbus’ A320 family, the A319neo, made its maiden flight from the manufacturer’s Hamburg Finkenwerder facility in Germany. Prototype A319-151N(WL) D-AVWA (MSN 6464) departed this morning at 11:13 local time (09:13 UTC), powered by two CFM International LEAP-1A high bypass turbofans.
The resulting test flight was 4 hours and 55 minutes long, before the aircraft landed at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, France.
During the maiden flight, the smallest member of the A320neo family was commanded by test pilots Michel Gagneux and Eckard Hausser. They were assisted by test-flight engineer Jean Michel Pin while two flight other engineers, Sylvie Loisel-Labaste and David O’nions directed the flight from their test station.
The flight crew tested the general handling of the aircraft and its systems during the test flight, one of many that Airbus will carry out to test the aircraft in a variety of situations.
Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov successfully carried out the maiden flight of its latest aircraft, the twin turboprop military transport An-132D. The improved version of the Antonov An-32 has been jointly developed by Saudi Arabia and Ukraine.
The prototype aircraft UR-EXK was rolled out on 20 December 2016 at the manufacturer’s Kiev facility with the first flight taking place at Gostomel “Antonov” Airport.
Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A engines have been installed on the An-32D, the same powerplants installed on the Bombardier Q400 turboprop. The An-132 will also come equipped with Honeywell avionics, Liebherr air management system and Dowty propellers.
The multi role aircraft is capable of carrying up to 9.2 tons of cargo to a ceiling height of 28,000ft, with a max speed of 500km/h. Its possible uses include medical evacuations, fire-fighting, skydiving, cargo transportation and reconnaissance missions.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has observed the flight, hailed the development of the country’s aircraft-manufacturing industry.
“I feel pride for my compatriots, for thousands of workers of the Antonov plant and other Ukrainian enterprises, who are making efforts to put the An-132 in mass production.”
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner
American manufacturer Boeing also made headlines yesterday with the maiden flight of prototype Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner N528ZC (MSN 60256). The longest member of the Dreamliner family departed Boeing’s North Charleston facility in South Carolina at 9:38 local time (13:38 UTC) before landing 5 hours later at 14:35 local time (18:35 UTC).
A large crowd of onlookers joined over 6,000 Boeing employees to watch the -10 Dreamliner take to the skies for the first time.
Boeing stretched the previous Dreamliner variant, the 787-9, by 5.49m and added semi-levered landing gear to the 787-10 to avoid tailstrikes on takeoff. The powerplants have also been upgraded, with the 787-10 featuring two Rolls Royce Trent 1000-TEN turbo fans, each capable of providing 75,000lbs of thrust.
Despite these changes, the 787-10 still shares 95% part commonality with the 787-9 variant.
During the 5 hour flight, experimental test pilots and flight engineers tested the handling of the aircraft, it’s performance and onboard systems which are provided by Honeywell Aerospace amongst others.
Boeing will assemble the 787-10 exclusively in North Charleston. Assembly for the 787-8 and 787-9 is split between North Charleston and Everett, Washington.
The 787-10 will now enter a months-long flight test campaign to achieve certification and will enter service with Singapore Airlines in 2018. The airline congratulated Boeing on their success
“Singapore Airlines is proud that we will be the first operator of the Boeing 787-10, and we look forward to receiving our first aircraft in 2018.”
“These modern, fuel-efficient aircraft will be operated on medium-haul routes, providing us with new growth opportunities, while also offering our customers more comfort with all-new cabin products that are currently under development.”