Flight-testing of the Schweizer Aircraft RU-38A Twin Condor is set to resume in May now that the US Coast Guard (USCG) has renegotiated its $5.3 million contract with the US aircraft maker.

The twin-engine surveillance aircraft project was put in limbo for nearly a year when one of two operational USCG RG-8A Condors due to be modernised by Schweizer Aircraft crashed off the coast of Puerto Rico early in 1996 after suffering an engine problem. The two crew members were rescued after bailing out.

When work was suspended, Schweizer Aircraft was developing solutions for minor design flaws discovered during flight-testing of the prototype RU-38A, the first RG-8A returned to Schweizer.

It was discovered that the horizontal stabiliser needed redesigning and that the rear engine required improved inlet ducts to increase cooling performance.

The USCG, meanwhile, asked that the twin-boom aircraft's Teledyne Continental GIO-550 air-cooled piston engines, mounted in a tandem configuration with the pusher engine aft of the cockpit, be turbocharged to increase aircraft performance.

As originally envisioned, the USCG was to take delivery of three RU-38As. After ten months of discussion, the USCG in December 1996 reduced the planned purchase to two aircraft.

Source: Flight International