Alenia Aeronautica has revealed it has provided two additional C-27Js to help complete US Federal Aviation Administration certification trials for the US Army's Joint Cargo Aircraft configuration on time in mid-2010.
Alenia delivered the first two C-27Js to the army before the end of October 2008, and both were immediately inducted into the FAA certification process.
Since then Global Military Aircraft Systems, Alenia's joint venture with JCA prime contractor L-3 Communications, has dispatched a GMAS-owned C-27J to the US to joint the tests, says Giuseppe Giordo, chief executive of Alenia North America and co-chief operating officer of parent company Finmeccanica. A fourth C-27J based in Italy is also participating in the airworthiness flight tests.
The certification trials are aimed mostly at validating the C-27J's European airworthiness certificate, but must also address specific changes in the JCA configuration. These include US military-specific communications and self-defence systems installed aboard the JCA fleet.
But certification tasks also include checking out the JCA flight control software, which has been the subject of an ownership change.
Alenia's original partner and avionics integrator for the C-27J, Lockheed Martin, dropped out of the JCA bid in 2004, allowing L-3 to become Alenia's prime contractor. After contract award, Alenia acquired Lockheed's rights to the mission computer software, which have been copied over for the JCA configuration, Giordo says.
The fate of the JCA fleet remains the subject of great dispute in the USA. The programme's fiscal year 2010 budget request proposes to shift control of the C-27J from the US Army to the US Air Force and slash the minimum quantity purchased from 78 to 38.
Despite the cuts, Giordo says the USAF's assumption of JCA authority offers a potentially lucrative opportunity to the L-3/Alenia team.