On 27 February, Boeing has progressed flight trials of the T-7A Red Hawk jet trainer out of its St Louis facility in Missouri, with an in-flight engine restart. Restarting a military jet’s engine in flight is a critical safety feature that can only be demonstrated by doing something a flight crew rarely wants to do: shutting off the engine in flight. That’s all the more daunting in a single-engine aircraft. Yet, a Boeing T-7A trainer crew recently did it, at 20,000 feet above an Illinois test area, then flew the plane for 48 seconds before restarting the GE F404 engine and landing back at Boeing’s St. Louis site.
“Engine air start testing requires a large amount of preparation, planning and teamwork,” said T-7A Chief Pilot Steve Schmidt. “It’s a test of all the subsystems built for backup in the event a pilot would have to shut the engine down in an emergency and power it back up again.” Schmidt performed the test with fellow Boeing Pilot William Berryman. The test was the latest success for a program that’s meeting all its critical development milestones. The company expects to deliver the first T-7A Red Hawk to the U.S. Air Force in 2023.
The test of the single-engined aircraft that the company has developed with Saab saw the General Electric F404 powerplant shutdown for 48 seconds at 20,000 ft, before being restarted. As noted by Boeing, this is a critical safety feature in the event that a pilot has to shut the engine down in an emergency and power it back-up again. The General Electric F414 is an American afterburning turbofan engine in the 22,000-pound (98 kN) thrust class produced by GE Aviation. The F414 originated from GE’s widely used F404 turbofan, enlarged and improved for use in the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
In September 2018, the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $9.2 billion contract to supply T-7A Red Hawk aircraft and training simulators to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon.. Designed by Boeing and Saab, the T-7A has already accumulated more than 175 hours of flight time in more than 160 developmental test flights. The Boeing/Saab T-7 Red Hawk, originally known as the Boeing T-X, is an American/Swedish advanced jet trainer developed by Boeing Defense, Space & Security in partnership with Saab Group.