Ga., May 10 -- The man who flies it calls Lockheed's TriStar "the easiest plane to fly I've been in.
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Background: Ga., May 10 -- The man who flies it calls Lockheed's TriStar "the easiest plane to fly I've been in. It almost flies by itself and sometimes does." That's with the automatic landing system which, "functioned perfectly the first time we used it."
Hank Dees--project pilot for the new trijet, aeronautical engineering graduate, former Air Force fighter pilot, and engineering pilot for Lockheed since 1955--told a technical audience today--the National Air Transportation meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers--that exceptional results have been obtained so far in flight testing the TriStar.
He said that early test results indicate that the TriStar will be as economical to operate as predicted. He said "Aerodynamic drag is one of the most critical measurements of a flight test program because it largely determines performance," and in the L-1011, "drag at high speeds is well within desired margins."
Dees said flight testing of two TriStar aircraft now has reached the 150-hour mark in more than 50 flights. A third test aircraft will fly later this month.
Describing the TriStar's automatic landing system, which will permit routine landings when visibility is limited by rain, snow or fog, Dees said, "the first time we used it, the aircraft flew itself to a perfect landing without the crew touching the controls."
The veteran test pilot said the L-1011's Rolls-Royce RB.211 engines "have taken everything we've thrown at them. We've had no overheating in cross wind and tail wind tests on the ground and no sign of engine stall during rapid acceleration or deceleration and high climb angles."
Dees said TriStar performance has been tested almost to the limits of speed, weight and altitude. The TriStar has now flown at 404,570 pounds gross takeoff weight, speeds up to Mach .87 and altitudes to 35,000 feet.
He said handling qualities of the aircraft were as good or better than predicted, crediting aerodynamic design refinements achieved during 20,000 hours of wind tunnel testing.
Stability and control are good, stall characteristics are good and low-speed handling is excellent, Dees said.
He had praise for the airplane's "flying tail," a system for the operation of the horizontal stabilizer and elevator that provides the pilot with direct pitch control.
In summing up results of the test program, the Lockheed pilot said, "We've had our share of adjustments to equipment and some redesign work,.....But nothing has come up yet.....as a serious design problem with either the systems or the airframe.
"Up to now the TriStar looks like a very successful and straight-up design."