Marenco SKYe Helicopter First Flight Slips to 2013

 - November 20, 2012, 2:50 PM

Fledgling helicopter manufacturer Marenco Swisshelicopter has moved the first flight of its SKYe SH09 light-single helicopter prototype slightly to the right. Initially planned by the end of this year, the maiden sortie is now expected in the first half of next year.

“In 2011, we decided to build a conforming prototype–as opposed to an experimental aircraft–and this is a longer process,” Mathias Senes, the director of strategy for the startup Swiss helicopter manufacturer, told AIN. The new schedule, which will be firmed up in the “coming weeks,” will call for completing the final assembly, ground tests and first flight between January and June.

Some critical tests have already been conducted, such as fatigue trials on rotor blade spars. Both the main and tail rotors will have carbon-fiber spars. At present, 55 design engineers are working on the project in Switzerland, Germany and South Africa.

Eventually, three prototypes of the eight-seat helicopter will be built for the flight-test program, with EASA certification estimated in late 2014. Asked about funding, Senes said the company’s shareholders, including a private equity fund and CEO Martin Stucki, are fully backing the program.