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North Oil and Gas Platform Landing Success for EH101


GKN-Westland, November 22, 1999 - Yeovil, UK - A medium-lift Anglo-Italian EH101 helicopter has successfully completed a series of landings on a North Sea platform, 160 miles off the Scottish coast. This important milestone in the EH101 intensive flight operations programme was achieved in typical winter North Sea weather with winds of up to 40 knots and snow squalls.

The pre-production civil passenger variant of the multi-role EH101, designated PP8, completed the 160 mile trip from Aberdeen's Dyce Airport to BG International Armada platform in just 55 minutes.

Piloted by Bristow's Tim Noble and David Bird with aircrewman Paul Newman, the aircraft made a number of landings on the installation, the first of their kind by the 35-passenger helicopter. The Armada platform is currently serviced by Super Puma helicopters, but the landing deck on the platform proved no problem for the larger EH101.

PP8 and its counterpart PP9, the civil utility variant, are currently based in Aberdeen as part of a 6,000 hour intensive flight operations programme, flying simulated sorties to demonstrate the reliability and maintainability performance that can be expected during civil and military service.

Since arriving in Aberdeen just over 12 months ago the two aircraft have recorded a total of 800 missions and 2,000 hours of flying in all weathers, including the harsh winter conditions of 1998/1999.

Commenting on the significance of the flight to the Armada platform, Captain Noble said: "This is something we have been really looking forward to ever since we started working on the Scottish trials in September last year. With around 40 knots (46mph) of northerly wind and snow squalls both en route and offshore, the weather was typical of early winter northern North Sea offshore conditions.

"To most people in the oil industry the EH101 is perceived to be a much larger aircraft than the Super Puma and Sikorsky S-61 North Sea workhorses because of its greater passenger capacity. However these landings have proved that the aircraft could land and take off quite comfortably from most installations in the northern part of the UK and Norwegian sectors."

Aviation journalist Jim Ferguson, who was a passenger on the first flight to the platform, underlined the importance of the flight. "The combination of a remarkably smooth flight regime and a large cabin gives the EH101 a significant advantage as the offshore industry approaches the new millennium. In my 30 years covering Scottish support helicopter activities this has to be one of the most interesting developments."

The successful landings on the Armada platform are the latest in a series of high profile milestones for the EH101, developed by GKN Westland Helicopters of the UK and Agusta of Italy. In addition to the aircraft taking part in various aviation events in the UK and Scandinavia, the EH101 was flown across the Atlantic to Canada to attend the 1999 Nova Scotia International Airshow. The aircraft performed superbly in a wide variety of weather conditions achieving high levels of serviceability rates right through the month-long programme.

Specifically designed for offshore support work in a worldwide range of operational conditions, the EH101 is also intended for city centre to city centre operations. Its 35 passenger airliner-style cabin and extended range allows it to operate multi-installation flights, minimising personnel transportation costs. This advantage is likely to be of growing significance in the wake of oil industry mergers which may lead to the requirement for such a multi-installation capability.

The EH101 is in full production in both Italy and the UK with close to 100 aircraft ordered or delivered. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police took delivery of the first civil EH101 in March 1999, while 15 EH101 Cormorants have been ordered by Canada for their demanding long-range search and rescue service.

The EH101 is a long range, medium lift helicopter ideal for military, civil, humanitarian and disaster relief operations. Developed by Agusta of Italy, a Finmeccanica Company and GKN Westland Helicopters of the UK, EH101 brings together military utility, naval and civil variants in a single integrated programme.

The three-engine EH101 is designed to operate in adverse conditions including extremes of temperature, high humidity, icing and dusty environments. Its three engines substantially improve margins of safety, particularly at take-off and landing where it can tolerate the loss of an engine without loss of pilot authority. It can achieve in excess of 1000km mission range on standard fuel tanks and can carry more than 16 fully equipped troops at 280km/h (150 knots) or in excess of 4000kg of internal or external stores. Strategic deployment can be achieved by in-flight refuelling.

PP8 and PP9, the rear-ramped version of EH101, are currently involved in a 6000 flying hour intensive flight operations programme. The have been operating from Aberdeen since September 1998. The primary aim of the programme is to demonstrate the reliability and maintainability of EH101 and to prove the time between overhauls of major components. The first phase in Brindisi, Southern Italy, lasted two years and to date well over 1,000 sorties have been flown and a total of some 4,000 flying hours completed.

EH101 is in full production in both Italy and the UK and has now entered service with the British Royal Navy. It will be delivered to the Armed Forces of Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom over the next two years in tactical troop transport, anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, airborne early warning and commando configurations.

GKN Westland Helicopters Ltd is a subsidiary of GKN plc, the international automotive industrial services and aerospace group. Based in Yeovil, UK, it employs some 4,500 people and has an order book that stands close to £4 billion ($6.2 billion). GKN plc has annual sales of some £3.7 billion ($5.8 billion) and its operations are located in more than 40 countries around the world employing 54,000 people in its subsidiaries and associated companies.

Agusta, a Finmeccanica Company, employs some 5,200 people and has an order book that stands at more than $2.2 billion. Finmeccanica has some 60,000 employees and annual sales of some $8.105 billion, 65% of which came from exports. The defence and aerospace sectors account for about 50% of this turnover.


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