The RFB Fantrainer (or Fan Trainer) is a two-seat flight training aircraft which uses a mid-mounted ducted fan propulsion system. Developed and manufactured by German aircraft company Rhein-Flugzeugbau GmbH (RFB), it has been used by the Luftwaffe and Royal Thai Air Force.
First flown on October 27, 1977, Germany selected it as the winner of a competition to the Luftwaffe’s Basic Trainer Requirement, having beat both the Pilatus PC-7 and Beechcraft Mentor. However, no orders were forthcoming from Germany as it had committed to buying American fighters (F4 Phantom and F-104 Starfighter) which included a deal for pilot training in the United States. At one point, German flag carrier Lufthansa also reportedly took an interest in the aircraft, noting its jet-like handling. Pilots have confirmed the type to be relatively fuel-efficient and capable of providing a true “jet feel” for a reasonable price. The Royal Thai Air Force operates the FT400 and FT600 versions, using it train ab initio pilots who then went on to fly the Northrop F-5E fighter aircraft.
Powered by a Allison 250 C30 turboshaft, 480 kW (650 shp), it could reach speeds of 260 mph with a service ceiling of 25,000 feet.