One week after a shake-up, L-3 Communications and Alenia Aeronautica on 17 June announced completing the maiden flight for the first C-27J produced for the US Army/US Air Force combined order for 78 Joint Cargo Aircraft.
The first flight milestone - conducted from the Italian manufacturer's facility near Turin - comes more than three months before the first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to the army.
The service awarded the contract to the C-27J team last October, overcoming a failed protest by the losing Raytheon/EADS North America team offering EADS Casa's C-295. James Burkhardt, L-3 vice president of JCA, says the event "demonstrates our ability to deliver JCA to the warfighter".
© Alenia Aeronautica
L-3 also re-affirmed that the team's progress on JCA will not be damaged by the breakdown of negotiations between Alenia and former team member Boeing. "We are confident that this recent announcement will have no effect on our ability to fully meet the JCA program requirements," said Bob Drewes, president of the L-3 Integrated Systems Group.
Boeing had signed up with the L-3/Alenia JCA team in 2006, offering to assemble the C-27J in Jacksonville, Florida, after 2010. But its role was never finalised and negotiatiaions appear to have recently broken down. Alenia says it has "moved on" after talks dragged out for more than two years. Boeing, on the other hand, does not confirm that the negotiations have ended, saying: “We have been talking with Finmeccanica on JCA for some time, but until now have been unable to close the business case.”