The second prototype of the tri-national MRCA made its first flight today at BAC Military Aircraft Division's Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire.
The second prototype of the tri-national MRCA made its first flight today at BAC Military Aircraft Division's Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire. The duration of the flight was 60 minutes and the aircraft was flown by Paul Millett, the Military Aircraft Division's Chief Test Pilot (who flew the first prototype at Manching in Germany, during August), with Pietro Trevisan, Aeritalia's MRCA Project Pilot, in the second seat.
During the fight, the flight envelope cleared by the first prototype was covered. This included manoeuvrability, sweeping the wings over their full range, engine handling throughout the envelope, attaining maximum cleared speed and operating the high lift devices and the aircraft systems. Before landing, the aircraft made some low passes over the aerodrome during which it swept its wings.
After the flight, Paul Millett had this to say" "The aircraft is a delight to fly, just like the first prototype I flew at Manching."
So far, three pilots have flown the first MRCA prototype - Paul Millett, Nils Meister, MBB's MRCA Project Pilot and Hans Rammensee, MBB's Chief Test Pilot.
A/C/ 02 will establish as quickly as possible the levels of similarity to A/C 01, which first flew on August 14th at Manching in Germany, and check the flight flutter test equipment with a view to expanding the flight envelope to full performance as soon as possible in respect of both airframe and engine.
A/C 03, also to be flown at Warton, is the first dual-control trainer prototype, while 04, 07 (both to fly at Manching) and 03 (to fly at Warton) will evaluate the MRCA's avionics equipment. A/C 05, the first of two prototypes to fly at Caselle in Italy, will be mainly concerned with the flight test envelope clearance when carrying external stores. A/C 09 will join this work at Caselle and undertake further armament testing. A/C 06 (to fly at Warton) will be used for additional handling trials with external stores and for armament testing, including the Mauser gun.
The joint work of the prototypes will lead to an assessment of the performance of the aircraft as a complete weapons system.
British Prime Minister Praises MRCA
In a TV interview on October 7th, the British Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson, said the MRCA was "one of the wonder birds of aviation and that's agreed to not only by us, but by our partners abroad." He added "I believe it's cheaper and better for us than any other alternative 'plane." He concluded "MRCA is going on and we are very proud of it."
A UK Ministry of Defence statement published last month stated that the "basic unit cost of the common version of the MRCA is GBP 3.4 million using the price basis of September 1973. This figure includes provision, as assessed by Governments, for possible modifications during production and other contingencies."
This figure is about half that of comparable American aircraft and 70% of that of allegedly comparable European projects.
Biographical Note on Pilots:
Paul Millett: Chief Test Pilot, Military Aircraft Division, BAC.
Mr. Millett plotted the first prototype MRCA on its maiden flight on 14th August at Manching in Germany and on several of its subsequent flights.
After 16 years as a pilot in the Royal Navy, seven of which were spent as a test pilot, he joined BAC in 1968 and was appointed chief test pilot in 1970. He has flown over 100 different types of aircraft including the Handley Page H.P.115 slender delta, the Bristol T.188 stainless steel, high-speed research aircraft, the Short S.B.5 high-sweep-back research aircraft, and the Jaguar.
Pietro Trevisan: MRCA Project Pilot, Aeritalia.
Signor Trevisan has already flown a number f times in the second seat of the first prototype.
After 15 years service in the Italian Air Force, including 6 years as a test pilot, he joined Fiat Aviation in 1962. He was appointed Aeritalia's project pilot in 1973. He has flown 70 types of aircraft, including the F-100, G-91 and variants G.222 and F.104.