BAE Systems' new Avro RJX four-engined regional jet has finally made its maiden flight after several months slippage through subcontractor delays, thought to involve the integrated power plant system (IPPS). The RJX-85 took off from Woodford on 28 April and remained airborne for 2h 54min, reaching an altitude of 20,000ft (6,100m).
RJX project pilot Alan Foster says: "The first flight went as planned. All tests were easily completed, which bodes well for the rest of the programme. The main change to the existing range of Avro's is the adoption of the new Honeywell AS900 engine."
According to David West, the company's director product marketing, the RJX-85 will undertake the bulk of performance testing. The first phase will be in the UK, before tests are moved to the Americas in third quarter of 2001 for three months of hot-and-cold trials. The second aircraft, an RJX-100, is to fly in late July, and the first production RJX-100 in October. The latter will be used mainly to test cabin noise, electro-magnetic capability and evaluate handling.
Certification is expected during the first quarter of 2002, and initial delivery to launch customer British European will be in April. British European has placed a firm order for 12 RJX-100s and eight options. The first RJX-85 will be delivered soon after to Druk Air, the national airline of the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, which has signed for two. British Airways subsidiary CityFlyer Express has options for six RJX-100s.