AVORD AIR BASE: First upgraded EMB 121 Xingu aircraft for the French military makes its maiden flight

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EADS Socata last month announced the first flight of an avionics-upgraded Embraer EMB 121 Xingu of the French Military Air Transport Flight School, based in Avord.

The 1-hour, 15-minute flight validated the system improvements implemented during a 15-month intensive avionics modernization program led by EADS Socata for the French armed forces in-service Xingu fleet.

This avionics upgrade provides the twin-engine Xingu training/transport aircraft with a glass cockpit environment that meets today’s air traffic environment. Its configuration is built around two Sagem Avionics 10-inch ICDS-10 displays for primary flight information and one ICDS-10 multifunction display for engine instrumentation.

Completing the new avionics suite are the Garmin GNS 430 navigation/communications system, a Garmin SL30 communication and navigation set with 8.33 kHz spacing, and a Garmin GTX 330D Mode S transponder with antenna diversity.

The improvement package also will include mission preparation software.

EADS Socata’s flight test program with the upgraded EMB 121 will last three months, and is to involve the rework of a second Xingu from the French Navy to complete the contract’s first installment. A successful conclusion of this work will lead to the start-up of a second contract phase – scheduled through several additional installments, with the supply of avionics kits for retrofit of the French Armed Forces – remaining 39 EMB 121 Xingus.

In service since 1982 with the French Air Force and the French Navy, the EMB 121 Xingu is operated by the Military Air Transport school based in Avord to train transport and patrol aircraft crews from France and certain participating countries. They serve also as liaison aircraft within the French Navy.

« This maiden flight successfully concludes the first installment of this major avionics retrofit program, » stated Raphaël Maître, EADS Socata’s Vice President of Customer Service. « It highlights our know-how in this field, and underscores our ability to offer military customers high-quality service in accordance with program specifications and budgetary envelope. »

Special thanks to FRONTIER INDIA DEFENCE & STRATEGIC NEWS