Ten years ago, the world’s first series production Eurofighter took off on its first flight from Cassidian’s Military Air Systems Centre, in Manching. The aircraft bearing the marking GT001 (GT stands for German Trainer) was delivered to the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) School of Engineering No.1 in Kaufbeuren just a few days later, where it has since been used to train ground personnel.
The former Cassidian test pilot, Heinz Spoelgen, and his professional colleague, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hierl, from the Bundeswehr Technical Centre (WTD) 61, located in Manching, described the flight at that time as a highlight of their flying careers. “After taking part in a large number of tests on Eurofighter prototypes and series production aircraft equipped with test instrumentation, it was a big challenge for us to get our hands on the first aircraft destined for the Luftwaffe,” Spoelgen emphasised. “The 41-minute flight in the two-seater aircraft completely met our expectations and proceeded without any complications,” Lt Col Hierl added.
One day later, on 14 February 2003, the first British and Italian series production Eurofighter aircraft also took off on their first flights from BAE Systems in Warton and Alenia Aermacchi in Turin. The Spanish ST001 followed on 17 February from Cassidian in Getafe.