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Thursday October 8, 2000

Last H-1 chic hops beyond the nest, all 5 test aircraft now flying

PATUXENT RIVER, Maryland, USA ( US Naval Air Systems Command Press release ) - The last H-1 upgrade program test aircraft to make a first flight took its first leap out of the nest here Oct. 4 when it flew a 1.5-hour shakedown flight.

Flown by Marine Corps Maj. Steve Girard and Bell Helicopter test pilot Gregg Shimp, both members of the H-1 Integrated Test Team here, the AH-1Z, known as Z2, will begin flying temperature and cooling data points once the shakedown flights are complete.

"We flew the aircraft up to 100 knots and it performed extremely well, which is a tribute to the entire crew working on the aircraft," Girard said.

With Z2 having now flown, all five production representative aircraft are actively flying test flights in support of the upgrade program. Z2's first flight followed that of Z3 because Z2 has more extensive instrumentation that required more assembly time to install.

While most of the test flights have been flown by mixed crews (Bell and Marine Corps test pilots) from the H-1 Integrated Test Team here, Z2 is slated to fly within an envelope established by Z1, according to Girard. Thus, an all Marine Corps crew will typically be at Z2's controls.

To date, the H-1 ITT has approximately 480 hours of flight test time accumulated in both the UH-1Y and AH-1Z test aircraft. Additionally, the UH-1Y and AH-1Z static test articles have logged more than 33,000 hours of test time -placing the program in a unique position among pre-production aircraft in static test.

The H-1 Upgrade Program here is upgrading the Marine Corps' aging fleet of combat utility and attack helicopters by remanufacturing UH-1N Hueys and AH-1W Super Cobras to share a common drive train, rotor head, tail boom, avionics, software and controls for 84 percent commonality between the two aircraft.

Over the 30-year expected lifespan of the aircraft, this commonality is projected to save the Marine Corps approximately $3 Billion in operating and support costs.

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