Two more Beechcraft T-6C advanced trainers have transited Australian skies on their ferry flights on their way to the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
The aircraft, build numbers 4 and 5 of 11 the RNZAF have on order, arrived in Darwin from Bali on October 5 and, after overnighting in Brisbane, paid a visit to the BAE Systems Australia-run ADF Basic Flying Training School at Tamworth on October 7. The aircraft are nearing the end of their epic ferry flight from Wichita in Kansas to Ohakea near Auckland, which has travelled via Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the UK, Italy, Greece, Jordan, the UAE, India, Indonesia, and Singapore.
Beechcraft Chief Pilot JD O’Malley said the aircraft have had no technical issues en route. He said after arriving in New Zealand, these aircraft and the two which were delivered in late August will complete a series of final acceptance flights before being formally handed over to the RNZAF on October 31. Aircraft number 3 has been retained in Wichita for further trials and will be delivered at the end of the batch.
The 11 T-6Cs were ordered in January, and the first two were delivered barely seven months later. All 11 are scheduled to have been delivered by the end of March 2015, by which time RNZAF training on the aircraft will have commenced.
The T-6C forms the basis of the joint BAE Systems Australia, CAE and Beechcraft bid for Australia’s AIR5428 pilot training system project, a decision on which should have been made by Christmas.
The configuration of the aircraft being bid for AIR 5428 is almost identical to the Kiwi T-6C except for a Basic Product Upgrade (BPU) currently in development which will incorporate ADS-B, an enhanced cockpit voice recorder, the ability to fly inverted for 60 seconds, an operating environment capability of up to 50 degrees C, and other improvements.
For the ferry flight the aircraft have been fitted with underwing auxiliary fuel tanks giving a ferry range of about 1,600km, although most planned legs have been about 1100km in length.
Further deliveries to NZ are expected in November, while Beechcraft hopes to bring the final pair of RNZAF T-6s to the 2015 Avalon Air Show from February 24 to March 1 next year.