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Major milestone for ADF's CT-4B training aircraft

Celebrating 250,000 hours of flight for CT-4B Airtrainer's."

The CT-4B training aircraft, favoured by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) at its Tamworth flying school, has just achieved a very special milestone. As reported by Australian Defence Magazine (ADM), the CT-4B has seen a combined 250,000 hours of flying since 1999.

With a standard of 15,500 hours flight per year, BAE Systems Australia runs the tri-service instruction of military pilots with the agile aerobatic aircraft. To commemorate the anniversary, a look into the plane's history will allow a better understanding of why it has been a favourite in armed defence training these past 17 years.

BAE Systems Australia runs the tri-service instruction of military pilots with the agile aerobatic aircraft CT-4.

The story behind the Plastic Parrot

Originating in 1960s Australia, the design and construction of the CT-4 model shifted to New Zealand during the early 1970s after the rights of production were bought by kiwi company Aero Engine Services Ltd (AESL). Due to the T6/24 Airtourer failing requirements set by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), in addition to the decision by AESL management to adapt the Victa Aircruiser to become aerobatic, production of the aircraft meant major structural changes. These adaptations were predominantly associated with G loading capacity for aerobatic activities, with superficial edits such as seating arrangement shifts.

In 1972, the maiden flight of the first CT-4 Airtrainer successfully met RAAF conditions leading to the production of 87 models in the '70s. 1973 saw AESL merge with Air Parts (NZ) Ltd., through which New Zealand Aerospace Industries Ltd. (NZAIL) was established.

Every detail is considered before adapting an aircraft model.Every detail is considered before adapting an aircraft model.

Following this, a series of orders were made from the RAAF, Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) for CT-4A models. At this stage, production ceased due to lack of orders, only to be reinstated by a RNZAF order of six aircraft in 1978 before going quiet again. 

1990 brought about the selling of the majority of CT-4A Airtrainers by the RAAF as basic training became civilianised, causing yet another influx in manufacturing. After BAE Systems Australia received the contract to train the ADF's pilots, the RTAF sent yet another CT-4 Airtrainer order. At this stage, the CT-4E design was hoped to acquire a U.S. Air Force job that, however, failed, causing (again) the cease of production.

Manufacture for Airtrainers went silent after this, until the RNZAF leased 13 CT-4Es off Pacific Aerospace (PAC) in 1996, which caused the recommencement of aircraft production. Succeeding this, the RTAF ordered CT-4Es before the turn of the millennium, followed by a request for two CT-4E models by the Defence Science and Technology Agency in Singapore, 2002.

The CT-4 aircraft is recognised for its light and easy handling.

Differences between CT-4 Airtrainer models

Having seven different model variations -  CT-4A through to G - the aircraft is equipped with a single engine and recognised for its light and easy handling. Simply speaking, each air carrier version is an adapted form of the previous model.

As the first of its kind, the CT-4 uses a Teledyne Continental IO-360-D engine with an output power of 210 horsepower. All subsequent models saw enhancements in horsepower and engine quality - with exception of the CT-4D, which was proposed but never eventuated. More advancements included the fitting of air condition systems, glass cockpit avionics and Garmin G1000 glass cockpits.

Specifications of the CT-4 aircraft

Weighing only 770 kilograms, the super-light Airtrainer is not only ideal for learners, hence being used in ADF pilot training, but can also take a maximum landing weight of 1,180 kg. CT-4 aircraft also boast a range of 963 kilometres, providing trainees with a comfortable capacity to practise their maverick manoeuvres at 144 knots. Cruising and diving speed can be enjoyed at 150 and 45 knots respectively. 

Team effort has helped the ADF pilot training reach its milestone.Team effort has helped the ADF pilot training reach its milestone.

A major milestone for everyone involved

In an interview with the ADM, Air Commodore Geoff Harland, points to the joint achievement of this milestone. BAE Systems, AirFlite and ADF Basic Flying Training School at Tamworth have collaborated over the past 20 years, which, according to Cmdr. Harland, has enabled the current level of pilot training excellence. The commander also highlights the importance of continued partnership in the training process of Australia's pilots to ensure capacity is used to its full potential.

As the Air Force adapts to developing technology and capacity expectations, major technological advancements will be undertaken throughout the entire body. Through implementations like Plan Jericho, there will be a shift in thinking and adapting to the information age, which will further add need for the quality training of pilots.

Maintaining the high quality of training and keeping up with future trends deserves recognition as team efforts have brought the Air Force to what is sure to be one of many milestones yet.

Interconnect Systems has a comprehensive background in aerospace and defence engineering, being an industry leader for more than 20 years. It provides electrical interconnect products and solutions, including cable and wire harness manufacture. For more information on the best backshells and cable harness solutions, contact Interconnect Systems today on 1800 812 214 FREE.

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