Bell Helicopter, December 07, 2000 - ARLINGTON, Texas, USA - The Marine Corps' newest attack helicopter, the AH-1Z , successfully made its first flight today at the Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., Arlington, Texas facility.
"Today's first flight marks a major milestone for the AH-1Z and for the entire H-1 Upgrade program team," said Navy Capt. Tom Curtis, H-1 program manager (PMA-276, USMC Attack and Light Utility Helicopter Programs). "Z1's first flight represents the culmination of four years of initial development work and begins an entirely new phase for the H-1 team."
Z1 lifted off the ground at 11:42 am EST. The first flight lasted 15 minutes and consisted of initial hover handling qualities and basic low hover work. Monty Nelson, Bell Helicopter's H-1 Program Chief Test Pilot, was in the back seat of the aircraft. LtCol Keith "Chief" Danel, US Marine Corps Government Integrated Test Team Lead, was in the front seat.
Z1 is scheduled to be flown to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. in March 2001 as the next step in a 30-month flight-test program totaling approximately 1,300 hours to validate the AH-1Z's and UH-1Y's flying qualities and performance. The next two AH-1Zs (Z2 and Z3) and the first two UH-1Ys (Y1 and Y2) will follow within the year.
Both government and contractor personnel will fly and maintain these new helicopters during an integrated developmental test program.
Since the AH-1Z and UH-1Y are fielded, deployed, flown and fought together, linking the test points allows early identification and correction of any problems found during the test program. The flight test program should be completed by summer 2003.