Eurocopter EC 175 Quietly Makes First Flight
The Eurocopter EC 175 medium twin helicopter made its first flight on Friday at the company’s headquarters in Marignane, France, according to a source close to Eurocopter. Another source–a Eurocopter official–told AIN that the first flight was the culmination of almost one month of ground tests. The manufacturer will stage an official “maiden flight” on Thursday next week. The program milestone is thus taking place on schedule, as it had been planned for “late in 2009” since the middle of last year. Eurocopter recently disclosed the EC 175’s radius of action offshore–270 nm at ISA+20–and a top cruise speed of about 135 knots. The company also announced the main gearbox’s capability to fly for 30 minutes after total loss of oil. Targeted primarily at the offshore oil market, the EC 175 offers 16 passenger seats and competes with the AgustaWestland AW139. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67E-powered rotorcraft is a 50-50 joint program with China’s Avicopter, where it is known as the Z15. EASA certification is pegged for 2011.