With Boeing’s completion of the Indian Air Force’s first C-17 heavy-lift aircraft in early January 2013, the 418th Flight Test Squadron became the first squadron to fly India’s newest acquisition in order to begin testing it at Edwards.
The 418th FLTS flew the C-17, known as IN1, during a ferry flight from the Boeing factory in Long Beach, Calif., to Edwards Jan. 22.
“We are very excited because this is the first foreign military sale C-17 tested by the 418th FLTS at Edwards. The Indian government requested an independent evaluation to show they are getting the best; most currently fielded C-17 available and the C-17 Integrated Test Team at the 418th Flight Test Squadron will do just that,” said Shelly Huie, 412th TW C-17 ITT project manager.
During the aircraft’s duration at Edwards, the test team will consist of discipline engineers, flight test engineers, test pilots, load masters, logistics professionals, program managers, and maintainers from within the Global Reach Combined Test Force.
“Most of the team for this test has been working together for years on various programs, so the teamwork is already well-developed – which is another great benefit the customer will receive by testing the aircraft here at Edwards,” said Maj. Cory Naddy, 418th FLTS C-17 assistant director operations. “Specifically, for the India program, this team has been working over the last few months to hammer out the specific requirements of each test point.”
In the next few weeks, the 418th FLTS side of the GRCTF will set about reviewing and approving flight and ground test cards.
“During this time, our maintainers, including Boeing support, will be working to modify the aircraft with instrumentation required to gather the data we need to complete the test. Following that modification, the aircraft will start ground and flight test. In this phase of the program, our C-17 flight test engineers, test pilots, loadmasters and discipline engineers will be working closely together to execute the approved test plan,” Naddy said.
“Interestingly, there will be portions of the flight test phase that will require us to pull in other crewmembers and support from other aircraft to execute certain test points. All of these test points will require squadron leadership supervision and involvement. So, to put it simply, dedicated and in-depth teamwork from the entire GRCTF team will be necessary to get the India program to a satisfactory completion on the timeline projected,” added Naddy.
According to Huie, IN1 is expected to be here for about two months to undergo aircraft inspection and routine flight testing.
“The testing has the potential to extend into mid-April, if needed; but the team expects most testing to be completed by mid-March,” said Naddy. “Since this is the first foreign military sale C-17 tested by the 418th FLTS, it has introduced some new dynamics to our testing here and we hope that we will get to see other FMS programs roll through the GRCTF in the future.”
The GRCTF at Edwards is the premiere test force for heavy aircraft, including KC-46, KC-10, and KC-135 tankers, C-17 and C-130 tactical airlift and C-5 strategic airlift. GRCTF personnel have been testing C-17 aircraft, components, and modifications for deployment to the operational mobility force since 1991.
Boeing plans to make 10 C-17s for the Indian Air Force.