By Deb Smith
For Colorado-based Aviation Technology Group, Friday, September 30, began with a glorious sunrise over Centennial Airport (APA) and ended with a champagne toast. Everything that happened in between was nothing short of aviation history for those close to ATG’s Javelin project.
At 7:50 a.m., Robert “Fusch” Fuschino, vice president of operations and chief test pilot, rolled down runway 17L, pulled the stick back and for the next 35 minutes flew the Javelin prototype on its maiden flight over eastern Colorado. Accompanied by a chase plane complete with videographer, the prototype took to the skies with an initial climb rate of 2,800 feet per minute. During the flight, the landing gear remained down and the flaps deployed at 10 degrees.
With a maximum airspeed of 180 knots, the Javelin quickly reached its target altitude of 12,000 feet, where Fuschino put the plane through a series of tests to evaluate handling qualities and engine stability, along with evaluation of approach and landing flight characteristics. Bank angles were limited to 20 degrees.
The sleek fighter-style jet is the culmination of more than five years of intensive research and development, as well as tens of millions of dollars in investments. By the time it took flight, it had also completed a rigid series of wind tunnel tests and ground analysis programs.
But as just about anybody in the aviation industry knows–especially test pilots–it’s hard to call a flight a complete success until you’re back on terra firma. The Javelin didn’t disappoint a soul. With easy grace, Fuschino made a perfect landing using a normal visual flight rule straight-in type approach and taxied up to a cheering crowd of well-wishers and ATG employees.
As the canopy opened, Javelin crew chief Scott Rothe and ATG Chairman George Bye were among the first to congratulate a sweaty, smiling Fuschino.
“ATG has achieved a great milestone today,” said Bye. “The Javelin prototype’s first flight marks the beginning of more expansive airborne tests. We will now begin the process of correlating the Javelin prototype’s performance against predicted engineering values.”
The plane, designed similar to a mini fighter jet, will be marketed in both a civilian and military model. It has a top speed of 600 mph, an anticipated ceiling of 45,000 feet, a wingspan of 23 feet and is approximately 36 feet long. Two Williams FJ33-4 engines power it.
“It was a beautiful flight; the Javelin accomplished each of its test points without any difficulties,” said Fuschino. “The Javelin handled well on all axes and was very predictable and smooth. The FADEC-controlled engines were exceptionally responsive.”
The benchmark flight now puts the Javelin one step closer to FAA certification.
“The assembly and ground testing of the Javelin prototype has been a tremendous effort and I’m very proud of the team. This accomplishment is a major milestone for the program,” said ATG President Charlie Johnson.
ATG also hopes the successful flight will stir further investment opportunities. Unlike many civil programs, the Javelin prototype incorporates military ejection seats. This configuration will allow for evaluation of the Javelin Mk-20 military performance capabilities. Israel Aircraft Industries, Ltd. is ATG’s partner in the development and marketing of the military trainer derivatives of the Javelin.
“We’re extremely pleased by the successful first flight of the Javelin,” said Moshe Keret, president and CEO of Israel Aircraft Industries. “This event confirms IAI’s confidence in the program. We see the Javelin military trainer as a new and innovative product that is optimally suited for a variety of advanced military training and support requirements.”
Avi Maor, international marketing manager for IAI’s Lahav Division, commented, “The 5th generation Javelin military trainer provides the answer to the modern requirements for fighter pilots–a combination of high performance necessary to train appropriate flying skills, and advanced avionic systems to teach the cognitive skills required for modern fighter systems and information management.”
The Javelin prototype will be used to evaluate aircraft performance, handling qualities and selected system installations. The results of this testing will be assessed and changes made as necessary for incorporation into the FAA-certified production and military trainer versions of the aircraft.
Incorporated in 2000 and dedicated to the design, development and production of the Javelin Mk-10 two-place executive jet and the Mk-20 military jet trainer, ATG has been one of the fastest growing companies in Centennial. ATG currently employs more than 100 workers and has expanded its headquarters at Centennial Airport. The company recently announced that it has selected Colorado’s Front Range Airport as the location for its new manufacturing facility. The move is expected to create close to 150 new jobs and perhaps as many as 500 in the years to come.
The Javelin has generated a lot of interest in the past 18 months and ATG has received more than 100 deposits for the very light jet. Initial customer deliveries of the FAA-certified Javelin are slated for sometime in 2007.
For more information, visit [http://www.avtechgroup.com].