A Leonardo AW101 completed high-altitude performance testing last week in Buena Vista (KAEJ) and Leadville, Colorado (KLXV). The tests were conducted as part of a performance improvement program to raise engine power and main gearbox torque rating to 117 percent.
The high-altitude testing was used to confirm the three-engine helicopter’s ability to recover and land safely in the event of engine failure. Buena Vista is situated at an altitude of 7,950 feet while Leadville is North America's highest-elevation public-use airport at an altitude of 9,934 feet. Leonardo said, “Power consumption testing future-proofed the aircraft for impending certification requirements.”
The test helicopter was shipped to Baltimore, where it was reassembled and then flown 1,600 nm to Colorado. After testing, it was ferried back to Leonardo Yeovil, UK via Canada, Greenland, Iceland, and Scotland. It will be delivered to its customer, the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security by year’s end.
Leonardo's AW101 has a maximum takeoff weight of 32,187 pounds and is in service with a variety of militaries worldwide including the Canadian armed forces, whose variant is known as the CH-149 Cormorant.