AgustaWestland announced it has successfully completed flight testing of the new-generation BERP IV main rotor blades on the AW-101 (née EH-101). They will enter service early this year on the British Royal Air Force fleet of AW-101 Merlins. The blades are offered as an option on new helicopters or available for retrofit.
The maiden flight of the US101 took place at Westland’s plant at Yeovil, England, last month. The configuration was the same as that proposed by Team US101 for the Presidential Helicopter Replacement (VXX) program.
Breaking into a market that has traditionally favored U.S.-made products, British defense systems builder GKN has aced a $1.5 billion helicopter deal with the Japanese navy. GKN’s 13-helicopter order comes just weeks after Sikorsky voluntarily withdrew its S-92 from the same competition.
The recently EASA-certified Eurocopter EC 225 Super Puma has a new anti-vibration system that brings more performance, simplicity and lightness to the helicopter. Othertechnological innovations on themedium-twin helicopter include a new autopilot–with an engine-failure mode–and a new cockpit, which the company describes as providing a more intuitive man-machine interface.
The AgustaWestland/Bell/Lockheed Martin VH-71 made its first flight July 3 in Yeovil, UK. The 40-minute flight reached speeds of 135 knots and was reportedly uneventful, but there are likely challenges ahead for the program. The U.S. Navy is developing the VH-71 as a replacement for the 30-year-old Sikorsky VH-3Ds and somewhat newer N-60 “Whitehawks” that transport the President and other high-ranking government officials.
Boeing is confident that its HH-47 rotorcraft will be reconfirmed as the winner of the
potential $10 billion U.S. Air Force combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) competition. But even without adding the 141 helicopters required for CSAR, the evergreen Chinook looks set for at least two more decades of production for the U.S. Army and international customers.
Reducing vibration and noise is key to the goal of gaining public acceptance of the rotorcraft as a routine mode of transport. A Boeing team has now successfully made use of advanced materials to develop and test a new helicopter rotor that could go a long way toward unlocking the vehicle’s potential.
The long-anticipated decision as to which helicopter would next carry the U.S. President was always going to leave one contender reaping the spoils and the other licking its wounds. In the end, it came down to a decision to go with the Lockheed Martin US101, a helicopter largely of British and Italian design.
The award of the U.S. Presidential VXX contract a few days before Heli-Expo was a hot topic in the Anaheim Convention Center last month. The decision went to the Lockheed Martin US-101, a helicopter with British and Italian roots, and came as a surprise to the many observers who assumed that Connecticut-based Sikorsky had the inside track with its newer S-92.
Major helicopter manufacturers here in Paris are eagerly awaiting the expected release next month of a U.S. Air Force request for proposal (RFP) for a combat search-and-rescue helicopter to replace some 100 aging Sikorsky HH-60Gs. The RFP is expected to request 141 personnel recovery vehicles (PRVs) at a value of about $10 billion, with initial entry into service in 2011.