Flying the Brazilian Hotrod

By David Brown

Chief Test Pilot Gilberto Pedrosa Schittini, the author and Embraer Flight Test Engineer Mauro Mezzacappa at SJ Dos Campos (David Brown)In my logbooks, I have a number of memorable aircraft. One such was Embraer’s Proof of Concept (POC) Super Tucano for the JPATS program. Engineering prototype PP-ZTW, the EMB 312.161, had a checkered career, starting life as a standard Tucano with a 750HP PT6A-25C. It had later been modified with a Garrett TPE-331 turboprop of 950 SHP as a prototype for the Shorts Tucano. Now for the JPATS competition for the U.S. Military, which specified a maximum speed in excess of that attainable by the RAF version, Embraer had decided to bite the bullet and shoehorn a monster 1,600 SHP PT6A-67R into the Tucano. This stretched the nose by more than a foot and required a deeper inlet under the nose. This stupendous SHP was transmitted to the air through a five-bladed Hartzell propeller.  With the longer nose and increased solidity of the five-bladed propeller up front, directional stability was degraded, so a three-foot plug was incorporated into the rear fuselage, and a pair of ventral fins added under the rear fuselage. The Genealogy of this aircraft was pretty unique. When I flew this aircraft, there was a quartet of manufacturers’ nameplates under the port horizontal, representing the four different standards of the aircraft.

As befits a much-modified flight test aircraft, the cockpit was mainly standard Tucano with round gauges rather than the glass cockpit that would come along with the JPATS prototype aircraft (I was to fly this one later) and the aircraft had a Brazilian registration PT-ZTW for demonstration purposes. Some systems had been upgraded while others remained standard Tucano. PP-ZTW did have a single-power lever to control the engine, Martin-Baker Mk 10 zero-zero ejection seats, OBOGS to produce oxygen and to eliminate the constant need for refilling oxygen bottles and a new air conditioning system fed by an inlet behind the canopy. But it was not pressurized.

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