The first of three 777-9 test aircraft made its first flight from Everett, Washington, to nearby Boeing Field on Jan. 25. The third General Electric GE9X-powered aircraft joined the test program in August. First delivery is planned for 2022.
The long-range, large-cabin G700 business jet made its first flight from Savannah, Georgia, on Feb. 14. A fifth aircraft joined the test program in November. Developed from the G650, Gulfstream’s new flagship is scheduled to enter service in 2022 with a range of at least 7,500 nm at Mach 0.85.
Longview Aviation Services
The first Canadair CL-215 amphibian upgraded to the CL-415EAF Enhanced Aerial Firefighter by Canada’s Longview Aviation Services, sister company Viking Air and Cascade Aerospace made its first flight from Abbotsford, British Columbia, on March 10. The upgrade includes turbine engines and a digital cockpit.
Dornier Seawings Seastar
Dornier Seawings’ flew the prototype New Generation Seastar amphibious aircraft for the first time on March 28 from Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. An update of the original Seastar flown in 1984, the aircraft has a digital cockpit, improved propellers and upgraded systems.
Cessna 408 SkyCourier
Textron Aviation’s SkyCourier twin-turboprop utility aircraft made its first flight from Beech Field in Wichita on May 17. All three test aircraft, one in 6,000-lb.-payload cargo configuration and two 19-passenger variants, are flying, with deliveries planned to begin in 2021.
MagniX flew a Cessna 208 Caravan modified to electric propulsion on May 29 from AeroTEC’s test center at Moses Lake, Washington, with a 560-kW Magni500 electric motor replacing the aircraft’s Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop. The battery-powered eCaravan is planned to enter service in 2022.
The AT-5 “Brave Eagle” advanced jet trainer, developed by Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC), made its first flight on June 10 from Ching Chuan Kang Air Base. Evolved from the F-CK-1 indigenous fighter design, the supersonic trainer is to enter production in 2023.
Beta Technologies Alia
Beta airlifted its Alia electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft by helicopter across Lake Champlain from Vermont to New York’s Plattsburgh International Airport on June 12 to begin flight testing. Initial flights of the winged lift-plus-cruise vehicle have been in fixed-wing mode.
Stratos Aircraft flew the all-composite Stratos 716X for the first time on July 10 at Redmond, Oregon. A six-seat very-light jet powered by a single Pratt & Whitney JT15D-5 turbofan, the 400-kt. (460 mph) 716X is being offered as an experiment kit while Stratos works to certify the aircraft.
The ATR 72-600F, a purpose-built large regional freighter, made its first flight from Toulouse on Sept. 16. With a 9,000-kg (19,800-lb.) maximum payload and large cargo door. The aircraft is scheduled to enter service with FedEx Express early in 2021.
The year may have been dominated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on aviation and aerospace, but 2020 also proved to be a surprisingly busy year for first flights.
Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.