Honeywell Aerospace has retired its Convair 580 test aircraft after 67 years of service, 103,000 landings and 67,000 total flight hours, according to a company announcement on Thursday. Data gathered using the aircraft, N580HW, helped engineers create Honeywell’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System, and IntuVue RDR-4000 Weather Radar System. The company says testing of the IntuVue RDR-4000 included “flying the Convair under and directly into thunderstorms over the Everglades and off the coast of Florida” while EGPWS testing involved flying “directly toward mountainous terrain to test that the warning signals in the EGPWS were activating when the aircraft was too close to dangerous terrain features.”
“You have to have confidence in your aircraft to be around mountains, thunderstorms and volcanos, because you’re flying so close to terrain, you’ll experience a lot of turbulence. Thankfully, the Convair is a heavy-duty aircraft and has very reliable engines,” said Honeywell Aerospace chief test pilot Randy Moore. “I always thought of it like a 1952 Chevy pickup. That’s what the Convair was like.” Moore has flown the company’s 580 since 2004.
Honeywell’s Convair 580 has a long and well-documented history. Certified on January 15, 1952, as a Convair 340, it spent many years carrying passengers for United Airlines. After being sold to Frontier in 1966, it was converted to a 580. The aircraft was acquired by AlliedSignal in 1992 and became part of Honeywell’s fleet when the companies merged in 2000. It will be retired to a planned aviation museum in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.