Boeing shuts down and restarts T-7A trainer engine in flight
In a graphic display of self-confidence, Boeing deliberately shut down and restarted the engine on one of its T-7A Red Hawk trainer jets as part of a major safety test. At an altitude of 20,000 ft (6,096 m) over a test area in Illinois, T-7A Chief Pilot Steve Schmidt and Boeing Pilot William Berryman switched off the aircraft's GE F404 engine for 48 seconds before restarting it and returning to Boeing's St. Louis facility.
If you want to find something that a jet fighter pilot really doesn't want to experience, having the engine shut down is probably pretty high on the list. It is possible to restart an engine in flight, assuming that there isn't a mechanical fault, but even then it isn't easy.
A flameout under the wrong conditions can result in the pilot learning very quickly what happens after pulling the lever on the ejector seat. Therefore, it's a small wonder that Boeing regards the recent test as a critical development milestone.
Overall, Boeing says the T-7A has clocked up 175 hours of flying time on over 160 test flights. It's slated to be delivered to the US Air Force in 2023, the T-7A Red Hawk is being developed by Boeing and Saab under a US$9.2 billion dollar contract for an initial order of 351 aircraft and 46 simulators, plus ground equipment, to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of five-decades old T-38 trainers.
The T-7A has twin tails for greater maneuverability and a high angle of attack, stadium seating, and an advanced cockpit with embedded training systems. It can also blend with state-of-the-art ground-based training and boasts a number of features for fast and easy maintenance.
"Engine air start testing requires a large amount of preparation, planning, and teamwork," says 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."