Air Platforms

Boeing begins EMD flight trials for T-X trainer

02 July 2019

Shown here at Boeing's St Louis facility in Missouri, the BTX trainer flew the first EMD sortie on 1 July. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Boeing has begun engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) flight trials of the T-X trainer aircraft it has developed with partner Saab for the US Air Force (USAF).

The first EMD sortie, which was announced by the company on 1 July, involved Boeing T-X (BTX) aircraft N381TX flying out of the company's St Louis facility in Missouri.

No details were disclosed as to the nature or duration of the flight test, although Boeing's Chief T-X Test Pilot, Steve 'Bull' Schmidt, noted, "[It] went extremely well. She flew just superb [during the] first flight [of the] EMD test programme. [The] first test points went off without a hitch."

With two EMD aircraft so far built (Boeing has been keen to stress that these are not prototypes, in the traditional sense of the word, but fully configured platforms), 71 test flights were flown between December 2016 and December 2018. Since then, Boeing and Saab have been analysing the data ahead of the commencement of EMD flight trials.

The BTX features a single General Electric Aviation GE 404 engine, a large-area display (LAD) cockpit, and open-architecture system. The USAF is due to receive 350 aircraft to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon that has been in service since the 1960s.

With the first aircraft set to be delivered to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in 2023, initial operational capability (IOC) is scheduled for 2024. Production at the newly established facility in Indiana will be set at approximately 60 aircraft per year.

Speaking to Jane's and other defence media in June, Boeing explained that the BTX has been built specifically for the USAF requirement, with Ted Torgerson, programme head for the T-X Advanced Pilot Training Program (ATP), noting; "It is a flexible open-architecture system that will do the things it needs to do as the air force determines its future pilot training requirements.

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