Testbed aircraft


Sapphire turbojet engine fitted to an Avro 691 Lancastrian testbed (outer position), June 1954

A testbed aircraft is an aeroplane, helicopter or other kind of aircraft intended for flight research or testing the aircraft concepts or on-board equipment. These could be specially designed or modified from serial production aircraft.[1][2]

Use of testbed aircraft

McDonnell Douglas MD-81 testbed with experimental GE36 propfan engine
Yak-40-based testbed aircraft with a hybrid powerplant

For example, in development of new aircraft engines, these are fitted to a testbed aircraft for flight testing, before certification. For this adaptation it is required, among other changes, that new instrumentation wiring and equipment, fuel system and piping, as well as structural modifications of wing.[3][4]

The Folland Fo.108 (nicknamed the "Folland Frightful") was a dedicated engine testbed aircraft of the 1940s. The aircraft had a mid fuselage cabin for test instrumentation and observers. Twelve were built and provided to British aero-engine companies. A large number of aircraft-testbeds have been produced and tested since 1941 in the USSR and Russia by the Gromov Flight Research Institute.[2][5]

AlliedSignal,[6] Honeywell Aerospace[7] and Pratt & Whitney[8] and other aerospace companies used Boeing jetliners as flying testbed aircraft.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Свищёв, Георгий, ed. (1994). Авиация : Энциклопедия [Aviation : Encyclopedia] (in Russian). Москва: Большая российская энциклопедия : TsAGI. p. 735.
  2. ^ a b Hamel, Peter G., ed. (2017). In-flight simulators and fly-by-wire/light demonstrators : a historical account of international aeronautical research. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. p. 345. ISBN 9783319539973.
  3. ^ Guy Norris (7 June 2013). "GE's new 747 flying testbed colors". Aviation Week. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Lancaster Test Bed Images". Avro Lancaster. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  5. ^ Жихарев, Вячеслав (6 March 2001). "Опытно-конструкторское производство ЛИИ имени М.М. Громова" [Gromov Flight Research Institute Experimental Production Division]. Вестник авиации и космонавтики (in Russian). Москва: Редакция журнала. pp. 72–83.
  6. ^ "AlliedSignal powers up AS900 turbofan". Flight Global. 18 August 1999. Archived from the original on 30 January 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Boeing 757 test-bed plane showcases Honeywell R&D capabilities in Dubai". The National Business. 6 August 2016. Archived from the original on 2 August 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Inside Pratt's new flying testbed". Aviation Week. 8 May 2012. Archived from the original on 16 January 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Tempest Fighter To Wield Flying 'Excalibur' Lab For Digital Dominance". Breaking Defense. 2021-09-15. Retrieved 2021-09-18.