Slingsby T-67 Firefly

Slingsby T-67 Firefly

infobox Aircraft
name = RF-6, T-67 Firefly
type = Sports plane
manufacturer = Fournier, Slingsby Aviation

caption =Slingsby T67M-260 Firefly of the British Defence Elementary Flying Training School
designer =
first flight = 12 March avyear|1974
introduction =
retired =
status =
primary user = Royal Air Force
more users =
produced =
number built = > 250
unit cost =
developed from =
variants with their own articles =Sportavia RS-180
The Slingsby T-67 Firefly, originally produced as the Fournier RF-6, is a two-seat aerobatic training aircraft, built by Slingsby Aviation in Kirkbymoorside, Yorkshire, England.cite web | title = Slingsby T-67 Firefly | url = | publisher = Delta Aviation | accessdate = May 8 | accessyear = 2006] It got a bad reputation in the United States after three fatal crashes during USAF training operations.


The RF-6 was designed by Réné Fournier and first flew on 12 March 1974. An all-wooden construction, it featured a high aspect-ratio wing echoing his earlier motorglider designs. Fournier set up his own factory at Nitray to manufacture the design, but after only around 40 had been built, the exercise proved financially unviable, and he was forced to close down production. A four-seat version was under development by Sportavia as the RF-6C, but this demonstrated serious stability problems that eventually led to an almost complete redesign as the Sportavia RS-180.

In 1981, Fournier sold the development rights of the RF-6B to Slingsby, who called it the 'Firefly'. The earliest examples were virtually identical to the Fournier-built aircraft, but the design was soon revised to replace the wooden structure with one of composite material. Over 250 aircraft have been built mainly as a basic military trainer. Although operated successfully in the United Kingdom and Canada, the program would end in disaster in the United States because of fatal crashes, and problems with engine failures. The type was meant to not only replace the Cessna T-41 introductory trainer, but meet the Enhanced Flight Screening Program (EFSP) requirements. The US Air Force has no replacement for this type as it no longer provides training to non-fliers. The aircraft were eventually declared in excess of need in the early 2000s.

lingsby Fireflies in popular culture

A white Firefly (actually one of at least three) decorated with multicoloured spots is the aircraft owned by 'Auntie Mabel' in the BBC children's series Come Outside.


;RF-6B:Main Fournier production series with Rolls-Royce-built Continental O-200 engine (43 built)

;RF-6B/120:RF-6B with Lycoming O-235 engine (1 built)

;RF-6C:Four-seat version of RF-6B built by Sportavia with Lycoming O-320 engine (4 built)

;T-67A Firefly:Slingsby-built RF-6B (9 built)

;T-67B Firefly:The T-67B was the first of the Slingsby designed aircraft, the main difference was the use of glassfibre reinforced plastic.

;T-67C Firefly:The T-67C was a variant with a 160 hp (120 kW) Lycoming engine.

;T-67M Firefly/T-3A Firefly:The T-67M is the military variant, including the T-67M260 with a more powerful 260 hp (194 kW) engine. 113 T-67M260s were delivered to the United States Air Force as the T-3A Firefly.


Military operators

*Bahrain Air Force;BLZ
*Belize Air Force;CAN
*Canadian ForcesThe Firefly was used as a basic military training aircraft in Canada. The Canadian Fireflies entered service in 1992 replacing the CT 134 Musketeer. They were, in turn, replaced in 2006 by the German-made Grob G-120 when the contract ended. The aircraft were owned and operated by Bombardier Aerospace under contract to the Canadian Forces. Unlike the USAF experience, there were no serious operational or maintenance issues with the Fireflies in Canadian military service.;flag|Hong Kong|colonial
*Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force;JOR
*Royal Jordanian Air Force;NLD:
*Dutch pilot selection centre:The Firefly is used by the Dutch air force during pilot selection at TTC in Seppe.;UK
*Royal Air ForceThe Firefly is also used as a basic military trainer in the United Kingdom. The aircraft are owned and operated under contract by a civilian company on behalf of the military. In the UK it was under a scheme known as "Contractor Owned Contractor Operated" (CoCo).;USA
*United States Air ForceThe largest Firefly operator was the USAF where it was given the designation T-3A Firefly. The Firefly was selected in 1992 to replace the T-41 aircraft for the command's Enhanced Flight Screening Program, which would include aerobatic maneuvers. From 1993 to 1995, 113 aircraft were purchased and delivered to Hondo, Texas, and the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado. The Air Education and Training Command commander stood down the entire T-3A fleet in July 1997 as a result of uncommanded engine stoppages during flight and ground operations. A major factor driving the decision were the three T-3 Class A mishaps in 1995, 1996 and 1997. Three Air Force Academy cadets and three instructors were killed in T-3A crashes attributed to spin recovery procedures and engine malfunctions. The British-built planes had been purchased for $32 million, and $10 million was spent on fixes to make them airworthy after grounding. "The Air Force found the cost of getting the aircraft or any of the aircraft's components in airworthy condition for resale was prohibitive" and "In September 1999, the chief of staff of the Air Force approved termination of the T-3A EFSP, and AETC declared all T-3A aircraft excess to the command's needs. In 2000, the CSAF requested a new mission be found for the T-3A; however, a study completed in 2002 did not recommend a follow-on mission." [] "The remaining T-3A aircraft were then stored without maintenance at the Air Force Academy and the Hondo Airport. In the 2002 to 2003 timeframe, the 53 aircraft at the Air Force Academy were disassembled, crated and trucked to Hondo." [] On September 9, 2006, it was announced the remaining 53 (114 were originally purchased) disassembled T-3 aircraft, which had been declared in excess need for over 6 years, would be scrapped. [] .

Civil operators

;flagicon|Hong Kong / flag|Hong Kong|colonial
*Hong Kong Government Flying Service - retired all aircraft after 1996.;flagicon|Hong Kong / flag|Hong Kong|colonial
*Hong Kong Aviation Club - Used to train aerobatics to pilots.;flagicon|Turkey Turkey
*Turkish Aeronautical Association (Türk Hava Kurumu) - Used to give basic flight training to ATPL trainees. (T-67 M200)

pecifications (T3A)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
ref=Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directorycite book |last=Taylor|first=M J H (editor) | title = Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000 Edition | year = 1999 | publisher = Brassey's | isbn = 1 85753 245 7 ]
length main= 24 ft 10 in
length alt= 7.55 m
span main= 34 ft 9 in
span alt= 10.69 m
height main= 7 ft 9 in
height alt= 2.36 m
area main= 136 ft²
area alt= 12.6 m²
airfoil= NACA 23015/23013 (root/tip)
empty weight main= 1,750 lb
empty weight alt= 794 kg
loaded weight main= lb
loaded weight alt= kg
useful load main= lb
useful load alt= kg
max takeoff weight main= 2,550 lb
max takeoff weight alt= 1,157 kg
more general=
engine (prop)=Textron Lycoming AEIO-540-D
type of prop= 6-cylinder horizontally-opposed engine
number of props=1
power main= 260 hp
power alt= 194 kW
power original=
max speed main= 152 knots
max speed alt= 175mph, 281 km/h
cruise speed main= 140 knots
cruise speed alt= 161 mph, 259 km/h
never exceed speed main= 195 knots
never exceed speed alt= 224mph, 361 km/h
stall speed main= 54 knots
stall speed alt= 62 mph, 100 km/h
stall speed more= (with flaps)
range main= 407 nm
range alt= 468 mi, 753 km
ceiling main= 19,000 ft [cite web |url=|title= T3A Firefly|accessdate=2007-04-10 |format= |work= ]
ceiling alt= 5,790 m
climb rate main= 1,380 ft/min
climb rate alt= 7 m/s
loading main= lb/ft²
loading alt= kg/m²
power/mass main= hp/lb
power/mass alt= W/kg
more performance=

ee also

similar aircraft=
see also=
* T-41 basic trainer


* [,,-6069292,00.html "Air Force Scrapping Troubled Plane"] Retrieved Sept. 9, 2006
* [ AF link: Officials announce T-3A Firefly final disposition] with public domain picture.

External links

* [ Official Canadian Forces T-67 Firefly page]

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