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Learfan Development and First Flight


Mr. Dennis Newton (AF)
First Flight Pilot 
AIAA Awards & Recognition Banquet


UT Arlington


University Center - Bluebonnet Room




More Info to Follow



The Lear Fan2100 was a turboprop business aircraft designed in the 1970s with first flight completed by Mr. Newton on “32” December 1980. The Lear Fan was designed by Bill Lear, but not completed before his death in 1978. It was planned for production to be carried out in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in a new factory built with money from the British Government in an effort to boost employment. The aircraft had a pressurized cabin and was designed for a service ceiling of 41,000 ft. It could accommodate two pilots and seven passengers, or one pilot and eight passengers. It featured a pusher configuration in which two engines powered a single constant-speed three- or four-bladed propeller at the rear of the aircraft. A purpose-built gearbox allowed two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B turboshaft engines to supply power via two independent driveshafts. The intent of the design was to provide the safety of multi-engine reliability, combined with single-engine handling in case of failure of one of the engines. The aircraft was made of lightweight composite materials instead of the more common aluminum alloy. Another distinctive feature was the Y-shaped empennage. Two stabilizers pointed upward at an angle, similar to those on a V-tail aircraft, and a short vertical stabilizer pointed downward. However, unlike conventional V-tails, there was no pitch/yaw control mixing on the Lear Fan. The downward-pointing rudder also served to protect the propeller from ground strikes during takeoff and landing.


Mr. Dennis Newton (AF)

Currently active as an FAA Designated Engineering Representative Flight Test Pilot.   BS in Engineering and MS in Meteorology, both from Penn State.  ATP type rated in eight jet and four turboprop airplanes and Instructor rated in single-and multi-engine airplanes and gliders. Chief Engineering Test Pilot at Lear Fan, followed by 4 years as Flight Test Pilot with the FAA and 14 years at Boeing as both an Instructor Pilot and DER Flight Test Pilot.  Retired from Boeing in 2003, then 8 years as contract instructor pilot on the 777 and 787. Author of the book, Severe Weather Flying, now in its 4th edition, and many technical papers and aviation magazine articles. Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and Associate Fellow of SETP and AIAA.  2005 Recipient of Losey Atmospheric Sciences Award from AIAA and  2009 Recipient of FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award.