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SIXTH C-17 TRANSPORT DELIVERED TO U.S. AIR FORCE; JOINS FLIGHT TEST FLEET

 SIXTH C-17 TRANSPORT DELIVERED TO U.S. AIR FORCE;
 JOINS FLIGHT TEST FLEET
 LONG BEACH, Calif., Sept. 8/ PRNewswire/ -- The third production U.S. Air Force/McDonnell Douglas C-17 airlifter took off yesterday on its inaugural flight to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Called P-3, it is the fourth aircraft to join the flight test program and the sixth C-17 delivered in less than one year.
 On its maiden flight, P-3 completed a 1.5 hour test mission en route to its new base. The new C-17 joins the combined Air Force/McDonnell Douglas (NYSE: MD) test force at Edwards, where, initially, it will be flown to evaluate various aircraft systems. Later missions will include deploying to different regions to test the aircraft's performance in tropic, arctic and adverse weather conditions.
 "P-3 is the sixth C-17 delivered to the Air Force in less than one year," said David O. Swain, executive vice president of McDonnell Douglas' transport aircraft unit. "This delivery caps a year of remarkable performance by the C-17 team, both on the production line and in the flight test program."
 Within the past 12 months, T-1, the first test aircraft, was joined by three production C-17s in the flight test program. In addition, two "non-flying" C-17s were completed. Limit-load structural ground testing on the static article is already under way at Long Beach. Durability tests, designed to subject the airframe to two lifetimes, will begin this fall.
 More than 470 flight test hours have been flown by the four aircraft in the flight test program, including a fleet average of more than 85 hours per month during July and August. "In our first year of flight test we've set the best performance record for large aircraft in recent Air Force flight test history," Swain said. "We've accomplished aerial refuelings, we've opened the ramp and cargo door in flight, and we've had short field landings and takeoffs. The C-17 performs beautifully.
 "We've also seen significant improvements on the assembly line. Our production rate has reached six aircraft per year and the cost of quality is improving 20 percent from ship to ship. We have also continued to reduce overhead costs," he said.
 To date, the four aircraft now in the flight test program have a combined total of 474.5 flight test hours. T-1 has flown 102 missions for 330.9 flight hours, P-1 has recorded 14 missions for 52.3 flight hours; and P-2 has flown 22 missions for 89.8 hours.
 The fourth and fifth production aircraft are scheduled to be delivered this fall for testing. The first C-17 scheduled for direct delivery to the Air Mobility Command, P-6, recently completed major join -- where the nose, wing, fuselage, and aft and tail sections were aligned and connected in a large tooling structure.
 The C-17 is designed to fulfill airlift needs well into the next century. It can carry large combat equipment and troops or humanitarian aid across international distances directly to forward, austere airfields anywhere in the world.
 The Air Force plans to acquire 120 C-17s, with the first full squadron operational by the end of 1994.
 -0- 9/8/92 R
 /CONTACT: Jim Ramsey of McDonnell Douglas Transport Aircraft, 310-522-2567/
 (MD) CO: McDonnell Douglas Transport Aircraft ST: California IN: ARO SU:


EH -- LA035 -- 7270 09/08/92 18:47 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 8, 1992
Words:554
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