Turkish Aerospace Industries has performed the first flight of the indigenously designed T625 multi-role helicopter. Having completed pre-flight ground tests four days earlier, the aircraft performed its first hovering flight at the company’s Ankara facility on September 6. The first of three T625 prototypes being built by Turkish Aerospace, the helicopter flew for 20 minutes, with pilots assessing general handling, transmission, and rotor systems. The company reported that the helicopter performed as expected.
Development of the six-tonne T625 was announced in 2011 and began in earnest in 2013 with an aim of providing a utility helicopter that could replace the 86 aging Bell UH-1s that currently serve with the Turkish army, as well as equip government agencies such as the health service, forestry department, rescue units and police. The helicopter is also intended for civilian use and is to be approved initially by the SHGM (Turkey’s directorate general of civil aviation), followed by EASA. Certification is planned for 2020, with production slated for the following year. A partial mock-up made the type’s international public debut in 2017 at the Paris Air Show.
Currently, the T625 is powered by a pair of LHTEC CTS800 engines, but in the future it is intended to be powered by the TS1400 powerplant being developed by Tusas Engine Industries (TEI). The 1,400-shp engine is also expected to power the T129 Atak attack helicopter, which is also currently powered by a CTS800 version. Employing the joint U.S./UK engine in the T129 has been raised as a potential barrier to delivering the attack helicopter to Pakistan if the U.S. refuses an export license as a result of the current diplomatic spat between Ankara and Washington.
Aside from its engines and some components from European suppliers, the T625 is of Turkish provenance, with a modern avionics and visionics suite integrated by Aselsan. The helicopter offers high performance in hot-and-high conditions and has been designed to operate in harsh geographical terrain. Maximum speed is 165 knots and range is 400 nm. Although the cabin can be outfitted for duties such as VIP transportation and air ambulance, the baseline version has seats for 12 passengers, plus two crew.