PIONEER TEST FLIGHT
Alpi Aviation UK pilot Nigel Willson on the flight test process for our P300 Hawk.
It's a privilege to fly an aircraft that has never been airborne before, especially one that has a build standard and finish as this P300 Hawk G-OALP, prepared for flight by Alpi Aviation UK.
Test flying is always an activity that requires preparation and forethought, not just by the pilot, but by all concerned.
We’re in the middle of flight testing this aircraft at Earls Colne airfield in Essex - It's an all-singing-all-dancing version including retractable undercarriage, and an upgraded power plant installation - Rotax 912iS with conventional Constant Speed Unit driving a two-blade Avtek variable pitch propeller.
But we know you’re all interested so here’s a little bit of insight into progress so far.
The maiden flight did not disappoint - This P300 Hawk is a well-balanced aircraft that flew straight and level without the need for any “tweaking” whatsoever.
Controls are light and responsive and the aircraft really is a delight to fly.
Subsequent test flights proved the well behaved characteristics of this aircraft continue to the corners of the flight envelope with very useful flap and gear limit speeds that are easily attainable.
However, this is a slippery aircraft when needed, and eager to please the pilot with speed when required!
Performance flight testing is about to be undertaken on the next flight, one of many items included on the bespoke schedule that I prepared in readiness for the flight test process.
Have we had any problems? Well, yes, of course but no show-stoppers, and nowhere near as many as experienced on test flights of other aircraft types!
But with swift responses from Alpi Aviation UK to my request for more information or corrective action to be taken, the flight test programme is well along the path to completion, with the full LAA Flight Test Schedule due shortly.