Rockwell Collins donates unique test aircraft to museum


Rockwell Collins has donated the Sabreliner 50 test aircraft to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. This Sabreliner 50 jet helped shape modern avionics, including weather radar and traffic collision avoidance.

                    Rockwell Sabreliner 50
Rockwell Collins recently donated and delivered its North American Sabreliner 50 flight-test aircraft to Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. The museum is home to many historic commercial and military aircraft, including the famous Howard Hughes H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose”.

Rockwell Collins’ 1964 Sabreliner Model 50, acquired by the company in 1976 and based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was used for many significant flight-test projects that helped shape modern commercial and military avionics. The aircraft is the only Sabreliner 50 ever built and was developed as a civil business jet from the US Military Sabre T-39 aircraft.

The aircraft was flown approximately 8,000 hours with more than 5,000 landings.

“For any pilot, the process of grounding an aircraft is emotional, especially knowing, in this case, what Rockwell Collins’ Sabre contributed to the aviation industry,” said Ivan McBride, director, Flight Operations for Rockwell Collins. “At the same time, we’re delighted that it will continue to live in a wonderful environment like Evergreen that is dedicated to educating, promoting and preserving aviation history.”

The aircraft had many modifications done during its flying career, including its unique-looking, custom-made interchangeable large nose radome to house airborne weather radar. The radar technology developed for Rockwell Collins’ MultiScan Threat Detection System, including forward-looking wind shear and turbulence detection was developed on the aircarft. These systems are now flying on more than 5,000 aircraft around the world.

The Sabreliner 50 helped develop the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II), which is required on most commercial and business aircraft today. Also, enhanced vision systems were developed for aiding flight crews in low-visibility conditions near the ground.

Future flight testing of Rockwell Collins’ avionics systems and solutions will be transitioned to other aircraft in its fleet, primarily its Bombardier Challenger 601.