Prior to purchasing the manufacturing and development rights for the French Fournier RF-6B two seat aerobatic basic trainer in 1981, Slingsby specialised in sailplane construction and composite materials, but now concentrates much of its efforts on its successful T-67 Firefly.
The Firefly is a development of the Fournier RF-6B. The RF-6B first flew in March 1974, and Fournier built 45 RF-6B-100s powered by 75kW (100hp) Rolls Royce Continental O-200 flat fours through to the early 1980s. In 1980 Fournier flew a more powerful development of the RF-6B, the 87kW (116hp) Lycoming O-235 powered RF-6B-120. It was this aircraft that formed the basis for Slingsby's T-67 Firefly.
Slingsby initially built nine T-67As, which were basically RF-6B-120s, before placing into production its own development of the type, the T-67B. The T-67B was the result of a fairly thorough redevelopment of the T-67A. The main difference was that the T-67B was made almost entirely from glassfibre reinforced plastics (GFRPs), Slingsby drawing on its very extensive experience in that field. The benefits of GFRP include better resistance to fatigue, less weight and less drag.
The definitive civil version of the Firefly is the T-67C. The T-67C is similar to the T-67B except for its more powerful 120kW (160hp) Textron Lycoming O-320 engine. Variants of the T-67C are the T-67C-1 with standard fuselage fuel tankage and one piece canopy, the T-67C-2 with a two piece canopy, and the T-67C-3 with wing tanks and three piece canopy. Many T-67Cs have been sold to flying schools and academies (including KLM) while others are in military service.
The military Firefly is the T-67M, which first flew in December 1982. The first model was the T-67M-160 with a 119kW (160hp) Textron Lycoming AEIO-320-D1B engine. With the introduction of wing fuel tanks and two-piece canopy, the designation was changed to T-67M Mk2. The next variant was the T-67M-200 with a 149kW (200hp) AEIO-360-A1E which made the first flight on May 16 1985. The final variant was the T-67M-260 (powered by a 195kW (260hp) AEIO-540) first flown in May 1991.
Many T-67M are used for military initial pilot training and screening, and 113 T-67M-260s were delivered to the US Air Force as the T-3A Firefly, while some are used by civilian flight schools for airline and military training (the latter under government contract). T-67Ms have aerobatic capable engines and two blade constant speed propellers, among other changes, compared with the T-67C.
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