Pakistan Air Force test pilots, Squadron Leader Muhammad Ehsan ul Haq and Squadron Leader Rashid Habib flew two sorties of 30 minutes each in the skies of Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province, China. It signifies an important day in the history of aviation in Pakistan as on this day two PAF test pilots flew the newly manufactured single-seat JF-17 ‘Thunder’ prototype-1 aircraft for the first time. During flight, the pilots evaluated the flight performance of the aircraft in different phases of flight. After landing, both the pilots reported that they were extremely happy with the excellent performance of the aircraft in all phases of its flight.
With these flights, the Pakistani pilots have joined the chosen team of ‘Thunder’ test pilots, which already includes the Chinese test pilots. Therefore, from now on, PAF pilots will regularly participate in the test-flights of JF-17 aircraft alongside their Chinese counter parts to complete the ‘flight test and evaluation’ phase of JF-17 aircraft.
The Proto type JF-17 aircraft, after its maiden flight in September last year, is being subjected to exhaustive ground and air-tests. These tests are conducted on all the newly manufactured aeroplanes before they are certified for the regular serial production. The ‘flight testing’ of new aircraft is a highly complex process which involves days of planning by a team of pilots and engineers. Before flight, special sensors are installed on the aircraft, which do not only monitor the flight performance of the aircraft and the performance of its various sub-systems during flight, but they also transmit this data to a ground station. With the help of this data, the team of ‘flight test engineers and pilots’ sitting in the ground-test-station monitors the flight of the aircraft and carries out a thorough analysis with the help of highly advanced computers, before the next flight. It may be reported that two of the PAF’s test- engineers are already involved in the complete flight-testing phase of the aircraft.
Test flight of the JF-17 ‘THUNDER’ aircraft by PAF pilots in China also signifies the fraternity of Sino-Pak relations since it is for the first time in the history of Chinese aviation that two foreign pilots have flown a prototype aircraft in that country.