Sino Swearingen back on track after static test success

Sino Swearingen expects to announce later this month its planned certification target for the SJ30-2 business aircraft following the successful completion of static load tests on the wing structure late last year.

Although no official target date has so far been released by Sino Swearingen, Flight International understands the plan is to aim for certification in the third quarter of 2005. The certification schedule was hit by the crash of a test aircraft in April 2003, but the company now says "aircraft serial number four made its first flight in October and has joined number three which has been flying like crazy. In a short while we will be adding number five."

Aircraft three is now the base certification aircraft for systems and engine tests, while number four is the lead aerodynamics, stability and control and performance test aircraft. Aircraft number five will undertake autopilot, interior and functional and reliability tests and is more of a "fit and form" airframe, says the company.

The test just completed at the company's static test jig site in San Antonio, Texas took the airframe to ultimate loads up to 150% above those passed in earlier limit load tests. The conventionally constructed SJ30-2 twinjet is a seven-seat light business jet aimed at relatively high cruise speeds up to Mach 0.83. Sino Swearingen adds that a scale model is also being shipped to the UK in the next few weeks for high speed tests in a transonic windtunnel.

The exact reasons for the high-speed tests remain unclear, particularly at this late stage, and the company says it is for "verification" of high Mach behaviour rather than to correct any problems. The accident in April, however, occurred when the first production prototype was engaged in high-speed tests at around Mach 0.9. "We just really want to see how fast it can go, and some of the tests will be conducted above Mach 1," says the company.

Despite the extremely protracted development of the SJ30, which first flew in its original form in 1991, Sino Swearingen says it booked orders for a "remarkable" number of new orders at the recent NBAA show in Orlando. Exact sales figures are due to be released by the company later in the first quarter, and are believed to exceed 100 firm commitments.

Source: Flight International