Scaled Composites Completes First Flight of Secretive Experimental

Scaled Composites’ Model 401 flew its first test flight this week. Scaled Composites

Mojave, California-based Scaled Composites, which was founded by famed aircraft engineering visionary Burt Rutan who retired in 2011, this week conducted the first flight of an experimental airplane named Model 401. The airplane was designed for a “proprietary customer.” The proof-of-concept features sharper angles than we’re used to seeing on the wings and vertical tail sections and one goal of the experimental design is to help modernize and reduce the cost of manufacturing techniques. The customer commissioned two of these airplanes.

While Scaled Composite, now owned by Northrop Grumman, remains very secretive about the project, the company shared a few details. The wingspan and length of the airplane are identical at 38 feet. The max endurance is three hours, the max takeoff weight is 8,000 pounds, and the useful load 4,000 pounds.

The Model 401 is powered by a Pratt & Whitney JTD-15D-5D jet engine producing 3,045 pounds of thrust, powering the small airplane as high as 30,000 feet, up to speeds of Mach 0.6.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.
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