A laser-nosed Hawker Siddeley Harrier aboard the anti-submarine carrier HMS Hermes during Sea Harrier proving trials in the English Channel which took place during the first two weeks of February.
The first flight of NASA’s Boeing 747/Shuttle Orbiter composite took place from the Dryden Flight Research Center, California, on February 18, 1977. The 584,000lb combination took off from the Rogers Dry Lake runway after a 6,000ft roll at 8.30 a.m. local time, climbed to 16,000ft and flew a race-track course over the Mojave Desert for 2hr at a maximum speed of 250kt. A series of gentle manoeuvres were made checking behaviour at circuit speeds and investigating flutter response. At present, the Orbiter’s engines are faired to reduce buffet. Five free-flight drops of the Orbiter are scheduled to take place between July 22 and October 15.
Bedford-based Harrier T2 XW175, another of the four Harriers used in the trials.
First flight of the Ahrens AR-404 commuter and light freight aircraft have taken place at Oxnard, California, with test pilot Herman "Fish” Salmon at the controls. Powered by four Allison 250s, the prototype AR-404 will be ferried to Puerto Rico after 10hr flying, where the type is to be developed. The main under-carriage units retract into the stub wings.
The McDonnell Douglas YC-15 Advanced Medium STOL Transport (AMST) first prototype 72-1875 takes off from Long Beach Municipal Airport on February 16, 1977, its first flight fitted with a new U.S.-French General Electric/SNECMA high-performance CFM-56 turbofan in the port outer position. The CFM-56 is of 2 1/2 ft greater diameter than the JT8D-17s carried in the other nacelles, and generates 6,000lb more thrust.
Nihon University’s Stork B established a new world record for man-powered aircraft when student Takashi Kato made a flight of 2,094m at Shimofusa naval air base, near Tokyo.
The forward section of the specially modified centreline fuel tank on two-seat Jaguar XW566 contains a Thomson-CSF Agave radar. It is planned to fit nose radar to export Jaguars, and several suitable systems are undergoing comparative tests.