Maiden flight of local jet aircraft celebrated


TAIPEI — Taiwan celebrated yesterday the 30th anniversary of the maiden flight of its self-designed, self-manufactured jet trainer.

In attendance at the Taichung complex of Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC), were Vice Minister of Economics Lin Sheng-chung, Taichung City Mayor Jason Hu, AIDC Chairman Shung Yeou-kuang and representatives from the Air Force.

The event started with a film looking back at the difficulties encountered and overcome during three decades of the trainer’s development.

“Without the AIDC, there would be no aerospace industry in Taiwan,” Lin said.

In 1975, the Air Force asked the Aero Industry Development Center, the company’s predecessor, to research and develop a new trainer to replace aging T-33 trainers, AIDC explained.

Sixty-three AT-3 trainers were made, the company said, of which two were prototypes. The first rolled out on July 17, 1980, and made its maiden flight on Sept. 16, 1980.

Development and manufacture of the plane was significant in the history of Taiwan’s aviation industry, AIDC said, noting that it signaled Taiwan’s transition to the era of jet planes from that of propeller-driven aircraft.

Due to the experience gained by developing the AT-3 trainers, Taiwan was later able to develop its first indigenous defense fighters: a supersonic, twin-engine plane similar to the F-16 but slightly smaller and with a slightly shorter range.