Although primarily a small corporate transport, Aerospatiale designed the Corvette to fulfil a variety or roles, including commuter airliner, aerial photography, airline pilot training, air ambulance, air taxi, express freight and navigation aid calibration work.
The Corvette was a commercial failure, and was Aerospatiale's only venture into the executive jet market. The first prototype SN-600 first flew on July 16 1970, but only completed 270 hours of test and development flying before it crashed on March 23 the following year. This aircraft was powered by 9.8kN (2200lb) JT15D-1s.
The subsequent production version, the SN-601, had more powerful JT15D-4 turbofans and a stretched fuselage compared to the prototype. The first SN-601, or Corvette 100, made its maiden flight on December 20 1972. The second SN-601 Corvette (the first to full production standard) flew on March 7 1973, and a third on January 12 1974.
French civil certification for the Corvette was granted on May 28 1974. Customer deliveries, delayed by strikes at engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada (then UACL) began the following September.
Production of the Corvette continued until 1977. The initial production schedule called for 20 aircraft to be delivered in 1974 and production of six a month for 1975 and thereafter. However this proved an overly optimistic assessment of potential sales and only 40 were built (including development aircraft). Plans for a 2.08m (6ft 7in) stretched 18 seat Corvette 200 were also dropped.
Many early Corvette customers were French regional airlines (such as Air Alpes and Air Alsace), with others sold to corporate operators in Europe. Outside Europe however the type generated little sales interest in the face of very strong competition. Many of the Corvettes built remain in service today.
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