Boeing and Eurocopter To Build a Bigger Chinook?
Boeing and Eurocopter have agreed to cooperate on a future transport helicopter (FTH) and at the ILA Berlin Air Show both companies displayed a tandem-rotor concept that resembles an enlarged CH-47 Chinook. The fuselage would be 66 feet long and 12 feet wide, enabling the internal carriage of armored vehicles. Both France and Germany have requirements for a next-generation heavy-lift helicopter, and a NATO staff target is being developed. The German Army operates a large fleet of CH-53G heavy-lift helicopters, and Eurocopter previously explored cooperation with Sikorsky, which is designing the CH-53K model to replace the U.S. Marine Corps' CH-53D/E fleet. But although it is a complete redesign, the CH-53K cabin is only 12 inches wider than that of the predecessor CH-53s. Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling said that there is a transatlantic consensus that a FTH should not carry underslung loads in a threat environment. However, the U.S. Marine Corps is quite happy with the emerging, triple-engine CH-53K, according to requirements officer Major Jeff Davis, who briefed journalists on the program at Berlin. The first of the all-new GE38-1B engines is doing well in ground tests; the first flight is scheduled for fiscal year 2013. Initial operating capability with four machines would follow five years later. “We're watching the European FTH requirement,” he added. A Sikorsky spokesman told AIN that his company had offered Germany three options for the FTH, based on the CH-53K. “The German preference seems to fluctuate between an off-the-shelf solution and an all-new design,” he added.