WICHITA, Kansas – Beechcraft celebrated a special first Tuesday morning.
The first production of the AT-6 took to the skies in its inaugural flight.
“This is a big day in the life of the company. New products are always exciting to fly,” said Bill Boisture, Beechcraft CEO.
The light attack aircraft, painted with the flying tiger shark-mouth, is designed to be a compact but maneuverable air defense system.
“It’s one of the few fixed wing aircraft to fire hell fires, and the first fixed wing to fire laser guided rockets,” said Dr. Lionel Alford, Beechcraft test pilot.
It is a price US allies can afford.
“That demands a flexible lower cost solution for most of the militaries across the world. Add the combination of the AT-6 and the special mission King Air gives them a tremendous capability at a very affordable price,” said Boisture.
That is the new focus of Beechcraft.
After losing the Air Force contract for a light attack aircraft to Embraer of Brazil, the company won a big order for King Air earlier this month that paired with the inaugural flight are launching the company on quite a comeback from bankruptcy.
“It is a fantastic airplane to fly. We call it carefree because you just set up the airplane. You are ready to go. It tells you if something is wrong with it. It flies beautifully,” saidAlford.
Beechcraft is now touting the 1,600 hours already logged on its AT-6 test aircraft as it tries to market the aircraft to other countries.