SKYe SH09 First Flight Augurs Well for Sales

 - March 2, 2015, 9:02 AM
The Marenco SKYe SH09 made its first flight in October in Molis, Switzerland. (Photo: Marenco)

Marenco Swisshelicopter (Booth 3718) has announced the first sale of its single-engine SKYe SH09 in Africa, to Henley Air. The letter of intent from the South African operator brings the manufacturer’s order book to a total of 60 units. Based at Johannesburg's Rand Airport, Henley Air's activities range from passenger transport to utility and training.

The first flight of the SKYe SH09 took place on Oct. 2, 2014 in Molis, Switzerland. With chief test pilot Dwayne Williams at the controls, the helicopter performed five hover flights, accumulating 20 minutes in the air. The preliminary flying and handling characteristics of the aircraft have thus been confirmed, according to the company.

Since then, however, Marenco has been remarkably silent on the ongoing development of the new helicopter. It did not officially announce any other flights, although AIN learned that a second hover flight took place in November. Early in February, chief commercial officer Mathias Sénès said weather had limited the number of flights, especially as the helicopter's doors have been removed in this early phase of tests. He would not disclose any other details.

Marenco Swisshelicopter, a start-up company, has targeted EASA certification of its clean-sheet-design for late 2015, and the company views the Airbus Helicopters AS350 Ecureuil as its main competitor. The SKYe SH09 is powered by a Honeywell HTS-900-2 turboshaft. With a 5,842-pound mtow, it will be able to carry one pilot and seven passengers, which positions it at the higher end of the single-engine helicopter market. The sling load capability is 3,300 pounds.

The project, an offshoot of the machine-tool specialist company, was unveiled in 2011 and the prototype was displayed at Heli-Expo last year.