Air International 1997-01
Upgraded Romanian Air Force MiG-21MF Lancer 6607, the first in air-to-air configuration, gets airborne for its first flight from Aerostar’s Bacau factory airfield on November 6, 1996.
Naval Weapons Test Squadron QF-4N 153011/‘144’ from NAS Point Mugu, California, undertakes test firing of an MA-31 target missile, developed from the Russian Zvezda Kh-31 (AS-17 Krypton) air-to-surface missile, which has been developed as part of the USN’s supersonic sea-skimming target programme under a contract awarded to McDonnell Douglas (with Zvezda as subcontractor) in May 1995.
Although wearing AFPLA markings, the apparently factory-fresh NAMC A-5C in the foreground is the export version of the Fantan which is already in Pakistan Air Force service and has also been ordered by Bangladesh and Myanmar. Behind is the F-8IIM, the latest upgraded version of the SAC F-8 Finback, which first flew on April 19, 1996 and was making its public debut.
HAMC Y-12 IV B-537L represented the latest version of this 18/19-passenger STOL transport. Revised features include uprated 507kW (680shp) Pratt & Whitney PT6A-27 turboprops, modified wingtips and main undercarriage, plus increased maximum take-off weight and maximum payload. The Y-12 IV achieved US FAA FAR Part 23 certification on March 26, 1995.
Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64A Apache 85-25471 ends its delivery flight as it touches down at Gilze Rijen air base on November 13, 1996 after a flight from Illesheim in company with the other 11 former US Army examples being delivered to the KLu. As they are only on lease, the helicopters have retained their US Army serials but carry Koninklijke Luchtmacht titles on the fuselage sides aft of the stub wings.
Although wearing AFPLA markings, the apparently factory-fresh NAMC A-5C in the foreground is the export version of the Fantan which is already in Pakistan Air Force service and has also been ordered by Bangladesh and Myanmar. Behind is the F-8IIM, the latest upgraded version of the SAC F-8 Finback, which first flew on April 19, 1996 and was making its public debut.
The F-8IIM prototype makes a high-level flypast during the show in clean configuration. In the static display it carried a full array of representative weaponry on the underwing hardpoints, including the R-27R (AA-10 Alamo) air-to-air missile.
Denel Group’s Combined Infra-Red Suppression and Tail rotor Elimination System (CIRSTEL), fitted to SAAF Alouette III 618, seen during ground running trials. Test flying is expected to commence during 1997 and the technology will be applied to a new helicopter which Denel plan to develop.
Undoubtedly one of the sleekest aircraft at NBAA was Aero Vodochody L-39CT NX39TR being marketed by Sundance Aviation Inc. It is one of two L-39CTs bought new from the Aero Vodochody 1996 production line and equipped with a complete Collins Proline avionics suite, extended range tip tanks, increased nose baggage area and a Progress AI-25 turbofan having a time before overhaul of 1,000 hours.
Clearly visible in this view of the CAC F-7MG during its flying display is the double delta wing planform. This latest variant of the F-7 series was making its public debut at the show.
Seen here nearing completion in the production facilities at Arsenyev is the prototype two-seat Kamov Ka-52 Alligator, 061, which subsequently made its public debut at Lyubersy, near Moscow, on November 19, 1996 and then made its international debut at the Aero India ’96 show Bangalore the following month.
Airbus A320-214 N624AJ (c/n 624) is the first of four CFM56-5B4-powered examples for Air Jamaica under a contract signed in December 1995 and was delivered in December 1996.
Following relaxation of the UN arms embargo in the region, the Slovenian Air Force has had its three PC-9s upgraded by Pilatus at Stans with underwing hardpoints to enable carriage of armaments or underwing drop tanks. Seen here is L9-52 (formerly S5-DPT) which, along with the other two, has now gained a military serial and camouflage scheme to replace the previous high-visibility colours.
GAIC exhibited FT-7P c/n TP0919 in the static park. The FT-7P tandem, two-seat fighter trainer was developed for Pakistan from the basic export FT-7 and features a new fire control system, HUD and air data computer, four underwing hardpoints, improved cockpit layout and increased fuel load giving a 25% increase in operational range. The latest FT-7P variant has been stretched by 600 mm (1ft 11 1/2in) enabling accomodation of more fuel and an internal gun.
Wearing a white VIP scheme, Fokker 50 U-06 seen here on December 3, 1996 at its Eindhoven base had arrived to join 334 Squadron on November 29 as the first of two for the unit. The second, U-05, arrived on December 6.
Gulfstream V.
Making its NBAA debut was Gulfstream GV N501 GV (c/n 502). Although this particular aircraft had only about 7 1/2 hours total flying time, it is one of the most tested of the five GVs in the certification programme, having previously been subjected to 16 weeks of rigorous ground-based structural testing.
VisionAire Vantage prototype N247VA during its maiden flight from Mojave, California on November 16, 1996. Note the nose-mounted pitot probe (for flight test purposes only) and the absence of undercarriage fairings.
Framed by storm clouds, the prototype Bombardier Global Express C-FBGX (c/n 9001) arrived at Orlando Executive Airport to make its public debut on November 17, 1996. Since making its maiden flight on October 13, the Global Express has amassed some 38 hours during 15 flights.
Although only the nose undercarriage has commonality with other Learjet models, the Learjet 45 retains the unmistakable family profile. First flown on October 7,1995, there are six aircraft now flying in the certification programme which have logged a total of some 700 hours. The aircraft exhibited, N456LJ, is the first Learjet 45 scheduled for customer delivery and the first to be displayed in public with a complete executive interior.
After completing a year of market research Bell Helicopter Textron and Boeing Helicopters have concluded that the time is right to proceed with a six to nine passenger civil tilt-rotor aircraft. Designated the Bell-Boeing 609, orders and deposits are expected within the next few months and the aircraft is predicted to have a market for up to 1,000 over the next 20 years.
Previously unknown in AFPLA service, this Eurocopter AS 350B Ecureuil came as something of a surprise - it is not known if any other examples are operated.
Prototype PZL Swidnik SW-4 600103 seen during it first public flight on October 29, 1996, which, correcting the previous report, was actually its third flight, it having made two preliminary test flights three days earlier on October 26 away from the public gaze due to concerns that everything should go smoothly when it was flown for the press. The flying example is actually the second prototype, the rotor blade problems with the first example having kept it grounded as a static testbed.
Sino Swearingen’s proof-of-concept SJ30-2 made its first two flights on November 8, 1996, accumulating 1 hour 42 minutes’ flying time. A modification of the Swearingen SJ30, certification costs are estimated to be in excess of $150 million, well within the resources of the joint partner company Sino-Aerospace.
Adding a touch of glamour and nostalgia to the show was Sandy McTaggart’s Frakes Turbo Mallard C-FUOT. Built in 1948 as a radial-engined Grumman Mallard, C-FUOT was converted with PT6A-34 turboprop engines in 1972 and acquired by Sandy McTaggart ten years ago, since when it has alternated between the Bahamas (his current home) and Scotland (his birthplace). Unfortunately, due to failing health McTaggart is unable to continue flying it and is looking for anew owner - any reader got $2 million to spare?
By the time the Hawker Horizon was unveiled by Raytheon President Roy Norris on November 19, 1996, it had already attracted orders from three customers who had been given a preview on the previous night. Scheduled to make its first flight in late 1999, the Horizon is a ‘super mid-size’ jet designed to fill the niche between the Hawker 800XP and Canadair Challenger.