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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Custom-Built VH-71 Test Bird Flies

MILITARY/VIP

A new test aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps VH-71 presidential helicopter program flew July 3 at AgustaWestland’s facility in Yeovil, England.

Test Vehicle 2 (TV-2) — shown above, with a patch of what AgustaWestland said is thermal insulation below and behind the starboard engine — is the first aircraft built specifically for the program. Flight testing to date has been done with two AgustaWestland EH101s — Civil 01, owned by the manufacturer, and Test Vehicle 1, on loan from the Italian navy. On TV-2’s first flight, AgustaWestland Chief Test Pilot Don Maclaine and Senior Test Pilot Dick Trueman performed general handling checks, tested flight characteristics up to 135 kt, and evaluated avionics. After an initial shake-down and testing of the integrated avionics systems and aircraft systems, TV-2 is to be delivered to the Lockheed Martin test facility at NAS Patuxent River, Md. this year for structural testing. Lockheed Martin is lead contractor on the VH-71, which is to go into service by October 2009.

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