DB-3 testbed aeroplane of TsAGI for laminar wing profiles research (1940)
Sapphire turbojet engine fitted to an Avro 691 Lancastrian testbed (outer position), June 1954

A testbed aircraft is an aeroplane, helicopter or other kind of aircraft intended for flight research or testing the aircraft concepts or on-board equipment. These could be specially designed or modified from serial production aircraft.[1][2]

Use of testbed aircraft

McDonnell Douglas MD-81 testbed with experimental GE36 propfan engine
Yak-40-based testbed aircraft with a hybrid powerplant

For example, in development of new aircraft engines, these are fitted to a testbed aircraft for flight testing, before certification. New instruments wiring and equipment, a fuel system and piping, structural alterations to the wings, and other adjustments are needed for this adaptation.[3][4]

The Folland Fo.108 (nicknamed the "Folland Frightful") was a dedicated engine testbed aircraft in service from 1940. The aircraft had a mid-fuselage cabin for test instrumentation and observers. Twelve were built and provided to British aero-engine companies. A large number of aircraft-testbeds have been produced and tested since 1941 in the USSR and Russia by the Gromov Flight Research Institute.[2][5]

AlliedSignal,[6] Honeywell Aerospace,[7] Pratt & Whitney,[8] and other aerospace companies used Boeing jetliners as flying testbed aircraft.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Свищёв, Георгий, ed. (1994). Авиация : Энциклопедия [Aviation : Encyclopedia] (in Russian). Москва: Большая российская энциклопедия : TsAGI. p. 735.
  2. ^ a b Hamel, Peter G., ed. (2017). In-flight simulators and fly-by-wire/light demonstrators : a historical account of international aeronautical research. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. p. 345. ISBN 9783319539973.
  3. ^ Guy Norris (7 June 2013). "GE's new 747 flying testbed colors". Aviation Week. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Lancaster Test Bed Images". Avro Lancaster. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  5. ^ Жихарев, Вячеслав (6 March 2001). "Опытно-конструкторское производство ЛИИ имени М.М. Громова" [Gromov Flight Research Institute Experimental Production Division]. Вестник авиации и космонавтики (in Russian). Москва: Редакция журнала. pp. 72–83.
  6. ^ "AlliedSignal powers up AS900 turbofan". Flight Global. 18 August 1999. Archived from the original on 30 January 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Boeing 757 test-bed plane showcases Honeywell R&D capabilities in Dubai". The National Business. 6 August 2016. Archived from the original on 2 August 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Inside Pratt's new flying testbed". Aviation Week. 8 May 2012. Archived from the original on 16 January 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Tempest Fighter To Wield Flying 'Excalibur' Lab For Digital Dominance". Breaking Defense. 2021-09-15. Retrieved 2021-09-18.