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Saab Safir aircraft history, performance and specifications

This trainer started out as a civilian general aviation aircraft for 3 persons and their luggage. 323 were produced, serving with six air forces and several civilian customers. 99 served with the Swedish air force between 1947 and 1992. Production ended in 1966.

The main customers were the Swedish, Ethiopian, Norwegian, Finnish, Tunisian and Austrian air forces. (One also ended up as a test aircraft with the Japanese air force.) Apart from that, they were also sold to civilian operators, the main ones being the Netherlands's state air transport school, the Indonesian state civilian flying school, Lufthansa and Air France.

Design was started in 1944, when the end of the war was in sight, and Saab felt the need for civilian products. It was given the designation Saab 91 and named Safir (Sapphire). Chief designer was A J Andersson, who had worked for Bücker where he designed the Jungmann, Jungmeister, Student and Bestman trainers. So it's not just a coincidence that the Safir is similar to the Bestman.

One reason it was given a nose gear was to make the aircraft safer by giving better vision on the ground and make landing easier.
The gear was retractable and the action spring balanced so the manual actuation didn't require a lot of force.
All control surfaces and the wing to the rear of the main spar was fabric covered, the rest of the aircraft metal covered.

The prototype first flew in Nov 1945, fitted with a 120 hp Gipsy Major engine.


Span        10.60 m
Length       7.85 m
Height       2.20 m
Wing area   13.60 m2
Max altitude 4600 m
Range         940 km
Take off run  180 m
Empty weight  580 kg
Max weight    995 kg
Engine        147 hp Gipsy Major X
Max speed     265 km/h
Cruise speed  235 km/h