VH-71 Presidential Helicopter Test Aircraft Completes Maiden Flight
AgustaWestland is pleased to announce the VH-71 helicopter made its maiden flight at AgustaWestlandâ€™s facility in Yeovil, UK, on July 3, marking a significant milestone in the development of the United States’ Presidential aircraft. The new “Marine One” will be the worldâ€™s most technologically advanced helicopter that will safely and reliably transport the president and vice president of the United States, heads of state and other official parties both at home and abroad with mobile â€œOval Office in the skyâ€ capabilities. The designated Test Vehicle #2 (TV2), built under contract to the U.S. Navy, was assembled and prepared at an AgustaWestland facility. It is the first test aircraft built specifically for the VH-71 Presidential Helicopters Program. During the 40-minute flight, AgustaWestland chief test pilot Don Maclaine and senior test pilot Dick Trueman performed general aircraft handling checks, tested flight characteristics at varying speeds up to 135 knots, and evaluated the on-board avionics systems. Initial Operational Capability of the Presidential helicopter is scheduled for late 2009.
Alan Johnston, Managing Director, AgustaWestland speaking after the first flight said â€œThe first flight of TV2 is a significant event in the VH-71 programme and the whole team are to be congratulated on achieving this important milestone. The programme is proceeding at a rapid pace with production of the remaining test vehicles and the Increment One aircraft already well advanced and we all look forward to seeing the aircraft enter service in 2009.â€ Before TV2 is delivered to the test facility in Patuxent River, MD this fall for structural testing, the aircraft will complete initial shake-down flying and embark on flight trails to test the integrated avionics systems and aircraft systems. The VH-71 industry team will build a fleet of â€œMarine Oneâ€ helicopters in two increments. Four test aircraft and five pilot production VH-71 aircraft comprising the Increment 1 phase are to be delivered through 2009. Increment 1 will answer the urgent need for an air system with enhanced performance. Increment 2 will see a significant increase in aircraft performance, and will feature technical enhancements designed to give command and control capability while in flight.Â
Aircraft final assembly will be by Bell Helicopter in Texas with missionization by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in NY. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration â€“ Owego is the prime contractor and systems integrator for the Navyâ€™s VH-71 Presidential Helicopter Replacement program with overall responsibility for the program and aircraft system. The VH-71 is based on AgustaWestlandâ€™s successful EH101 multimission helicopter. Since 1997, over 130 EH101s have been delivered worldwide and are operated by the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, Italian Navy, Canadian forces, and the Governments of Denmark, Portugal and Japan. To date, the EH101 fleet has accumulated over 120,000 hours of worldwide operations in harsh operating environments including desert, maritime, arctic, and mountainous areas.