Deliveries of the first Boeing F-15SA Eagles to the Royal Saudi Air Force are impending, the IDEX Show Daily has learned, following the solution of an unspecified problem with the aircraft’s all-new digital fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system.
The first of three production F-15SAs being used as prototypes made its maiden flight at St Louis on 20 February 2013, beginning what was expected to be an 18-month flight test effort that was scheduled to end in the summer of 2014. Beyond brief announcements of the rollout and first flight, Boeing (Stand 02-A20) has always declined to make any comment on the F-15SA programme, but there have been reports of unspecified problems.
An 18-month flight test programme was an unusually lengthy effort for a variant of an existing aircraft type, though it was explained that this was necessary because the F-15SA’s FBW system had to be cleared and recertified across the entire F-15 flight envelope.
After the first week of April, all flight testing was put on hold due to engineering issues with the digital FBW system. Testing resumed in October, prior to the planned transfer of flight test activities to the Palmdale/Edwards complex in California on 1 November 2013.
“The flight test programme is now proceeding at break-neck speed, and deliveries are awaiting the imminent conclusion of the flight test programme,” a Boeing spokesman told the Show Daily.