The first L-3 Communications and Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartan destined for the US Army's Joint Cargo Aircraft programme has entered a seven- to eight-week flight-test period after passing the first flight milestone on 16 June.
Conducted in poor weather conditions from Alenia's flight-test centre at Turin Caselle airport, the debut sortie lasted 40min, in the course of which the aircraft underwent functional checks.
The aircraft will now perform a test campaign of about 70 flight hours and 180 ground-test hours, mostly in Italy. In mid-August, the C-27J will be transferred to the USA for avionics and systems integration at L-3's Waco, Texas facilities.
© Alenia Aeronautica
The transport will be customised according to US Army and US Air Force requirements, but it was not immediately clear last week when the aircraft will obtain US Federal Aviation Administration certification before first delivery, as required by the army.
The first C-27J JCA should be delivered to the service on 25 September under the terms of a $2.04 billion contract for up to 78 aircraft.
The army is buying 54 aircraft, while the USAF plans to order 24.
First flight came the week after Alenia acknowledged that talks with former partner Boeing had broken down. The US manufacturer stops short of confirming Alenia's pronouncement, and says only that the business case for its involvement in the programme has not been closed.
Boeing's planned role had been to assemble the aircraft in Jacksonville, Florida from 2010. That task will now fall to Alenia, although the Italian company acknowledges it is open to talks with other potential partners for the US assembly role.