The very new Textron AirLand (LLC) Scorpion tactical light fighter completed the first 50 hours of flight testing on 9 April 2014, almost four months after the start of in December 2013. During 26 seperate flights, the test crew has collected some fun data to share and has published video footage of a low-speed interception.
The objective of recent flights, conducted from Wichita in Kansas, has been to gather data about the aircraft’s performance at various speeds, altitudes and climb rates, as well as to assess the responsiveness of Scorpion’s avionics, flight controls and landing system. The results so far include reaching 30,000 feet and reaching 310 knots or Mach 0.72, plus pushing 3.7 positive and 0.5 negative G’s on this flight level. The maximum airspeed tested has been 430 knots. Stall speed is lower than 90 knots.
Moreover single-engine climbs were performed, as well as single engine shutdowns and restarts in flight. Another nice highlight was an aircraft interception of a Cessna 182, to demonstrate flight characteristics during such a mission with low speeds (see video below).
Textron, the mother-company of Cessna and Beechcraft, and AirLand have only used proven technologies on the Scorpion, reducing the development time of the aircraft and trying to prevent unreliability issues.
Test pilot Dan Hinson: “The flight control systems are powered by dual hydraulic systems based on the Citation X business jet, and have performed flawlessly. In the event of a loss of both hydraulic systems, the airplane can be flown in manual reversion.”
Scorpion’s chief engineer Dale Tutt adds: “The avionics systems are also non-developmental and performing well. The system is not highly integrated to maintain affordable life cycle costs, so the Scorpion testing team is able to easily make changes to the system without causing problems in other areas. We routinely make software updates to the avionics system in days, not months.”
Textron AirLand hopes to complete 300 to 400 test hours this year, with about 150 flights including to and from destinations outside the United States.
Source: Textron / AirLand
Footage of the Scorpion light combat aircraft performing an aerial interception of a Cessna 182