Jet Makers Accelerate Testing

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Sino Swearingen Replaces Lost Test Aircraft...

Actions speak louder than rumors and if there was any question Sino Swearingen would survive the tragic loss of its chief test pilot and an aircraft, the company appears to have answered it with an even more determined development effort. The San Antonio, Texas, firm announced this week that a replacement SJ30-2 test aircraft for the one lost last April 26 had its maiden flight Oct. 17. The April 26 crash, during high-speed flutter testing, killed pilot Carroll Beeler. The NTSB hasn't ruled on a probable cause, although the preliminary report says the pilot was unable to correct an uncommanded roll to the right during flutter testing. The new plane will resume the aerodynamics, stability/controls and performance flight-test program that was being carried out at the time of the crash. Another conforming model is undergoing systems and engine testing and a third example will be added in a few months for autopilot, interior and function/reliability testing. With the addition of the second test plane, Sino Swearingen intends to accelerate the test program to seven days a week with night flights and IFR as it moves closer to certification. "With the expeditious launch of this FAA test aircraft into the certification program the team has accomplished another milestone," said CEO Dr. Carl Chen. Test pilot Bob Kromer said the new airplane handled well during its one-hour first flight, which included tests of all basic systems as well as assessment of takeoff and landing characteristics. The planned certification date hasn't been released but the company said an announcement will be coming soon.