AgustaWestland, September 27, 2006 - UK / Italy - The first flight of a high performance variant of the AgustaWestland EH101 fitted with new technology British Experimental Rotor Programme (BERP) IV main rotor blades, more powerful CT7-8E engines and a new integrated cockpit display system took place at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility yesterday. Following an initial flight in the morning the aircraft performed a second flight later in the day operating at speeds up to 135 knots and performing a range of manoeuvres with all results as predicted.
Speaking after the successful initial flights Alan Johnston, AgustaWestland’s Managing Director of Military Programmes said “This event brings together the technology that will give the next variants of the EH101 even greater mission performance. The additional capability these improvements will bring, especially increased payload in demanding hot and high environments, will be of great benefit to our customers who are experiencing ever increasing operational demands.”
The BERP IV Technology Demonstration Programme (TDP), which is jointly funded by the UK Ministry of Defence and AgustaWestland, was launched with seven key objectives comprising reduced first cost, reduced life cycle costs, reduced rotor vibration at high and low speeds, improved hover and forward flight performance, improved damage tolerance, increased erosion resistance and reduced signatures. The TDP is delivering the technology for the next generation of advanced composite rotor blades which will deliver significant improvements in whole life costs and operational capability of future helicopters including variants of the EH101.
The more powerful General Electric CT7-8E engines, rated at 2,527 shp (1884 kW) each for take-off, provide 12 percent more power than previous CT7-family engines, increasing the EH101’s payload by at least 2,000 pounds while operating on hot days at high altitudes. Following an extensive flight test programme, utilising a US101 test aircraft, development flying for the CT7-8E engines is nearing completion.
The new fully integrated flight and mission cockpit display system utilizes five 10 in x 8 in LCD main displays that give EH101 pilots 70 percent more display area enhancing their management of flight, system and mission data. The same large area displays are being introduced into the Royal Navy’s EH101 Merlin MCSP aircraft and the UK MoD Future Lynx fleet.