NEWS | AgustaWestland eh.101

Transatlantic First for EH101

GKN-Westland, September 09, 1999 - Yeovil, UK - PP9, the pre-production civil utility variant of the Anglo-Italian EH101 helicopter, made its first transatlantic crossing last week. Leaving its Aberdeen, Scotland, base on August 30, the aircraft made its landfall in Iqualuit, in the territory of Nunavut, North West Canada, two days later on September 1.

Total flying time was under 18 hours for the 2,500 mile flight which was undertaken at a steady 150 knots and at heights ranging from 300 to 10,000 feet. No special preparations were made to the aircraft which flew on standard tanks and in temperatures which fell as low as -17 degrees centigrade. Fuel stops were made at Vagar in the Faeroes, Reykjavic, Iceland, and Kulusuk, Narssarssuaq and Godthab in Greenland.

The aircraft was captained by GKN Westland deputy chief test pilot Jerry Tracy, with Bristow Helicopter's Tim Noble as co-pilot and a senior Agusta team comprising of Fiorenzo Mussi, Paolo Garlaschelli, Angelo Sansoterra, Angelo Zorzella, and Sergio Tosi. The team was delighted with the aircraft's performance during the flight. "The aircraft performed flawlessly," Jerry Tracy said. "The whole flight was uneventful from a pilot's point of view, although the scenery - and in some parts of the journey, the weather - was somewhat more dramatic than a typical day's flying over the South West of England."

Jerry Tracy went on to explain, "We were on or ahead of schedule throughout the trip and the most remarkable thing about the journey was that it was so unremarkable. The current EH101 fleet has accumulated a total of more than 10,000 flying hours so far and this aircraft is flying regularly for five or six hours a day in Aberdeen. We are achieving levels of reliability and maintainability far higher than older in-service helicopters and PP9 demonstrated the same levels of reliability during this flight."

Once in Canada, the aircraft made its way via Kuujjuaq, Goose Bay and Gander to Shearwater in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where it will fly and be on display for the Nova Scotia International Airshow on September 10-12.

PP9 is one of two aircraft that are undertaking a 6,000 flying hour intensive flight operations programme to prove the reliability and maintainability of the aircraft through a series of simulated military and civil flight sorties. Typically the aircraft fly for six hours a day, six days a week, and PP9 will continue with this programme whilst in Canada, visiting Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa in the process, before making the return flight to the UK at the end of the month.

Whilst carrying less fuel and with a lower avionic specification, the civil utility PP9 is similar to the EH101 Cormorant, fifteen of which have been ordered by the Canadian Armed Forces to replace their fleet of CH-113 Labradors in search and rescue service throughout Canada. The Cormorants are being built at Agusta's Vergiate, Italy, assembly facility and once completed will self-ferry to Canada. This transatlantic crossing will provide useful route proving information for the first of those flights which takes place early in 2001.

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.

PP9, the rear-ramped version of EH101, is one of two aircraft currently involved in a 6000 flying hour intensive flight operations programme. They 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.

The intensive flight operations programme began in 1996 and is flown by commercial pilots provided under contract by Bristow Helicopters. The aircraft typically fly for six hours a day, six days a week and are supported by a ground crew of some 30 engineers, data trackers and maintenance controllers

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, aerospace and defence group. Based in Yeovil, UK, it employs some 4,000 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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