|TRAINER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / France / Aerospatiale|
In September 1978 first details were given of the Aerospatiale TB-30 piston-engined trainer, designed in collaboration with the Armee de l'Air to meet a new need for a light trainer able to weed out pupils before starting basic flying training on the: jet Air Fouga-Potez Magister.
Like several other air forces this move is a response to rising costs, and the TB-30, subsequently renamed Epsilon, is a simple and robust tandem two-seater whose design has been steadily refined by the Aerospatiale aircraft division over a period of several years. Features include a metal airframe with a life in the military training role of not less than 10,000 hours, a cockpit resembling that of a jet combat aircraft, and equipment for full basic flying training, including aerobatic, instrument, night, formation, navigation, combat manoeuvres and VFR/IFR navigation. Later it is probable that liaison (four-seat) and tactical attack versions will be marketed.
The first of two prototypes flew on 22 December 1977, but the programme was then delayed by the need to redesign the wingtips, lower the tail-plane and add a ventral fin to cure highspeed pitch and yaw instability.
The French air force requires between 100 and 150 Epsilons, deliveries beginning in 1982 from SOCATA, the Aerospatiale subsidiary at Tarbes. An order for 18 was received from the Portuguese air force, these being assembled locally by OGMA.