Tag Archives: United States

First civilian tilt-rotor entering production with AgustaWestland

The AgustaWestland AW609 tilt-rotor aircraft will enter production, the Italian-Anglo manufacturer announced on 3 March 2015.

The company has expanded the AW609 program to include the AgustaWestland Philadelphia, USA, facility through its designation as the first final assembly line for the only civil tilt-rotor in development to date. A second final assembly line is expected to be established at AgustaWestland’s Vergiate facility in Italy at a later date.

AgustaWestland currently has two prototypes undergoing flight testing with a third in final assembly. The first prototype aircraft will continue flying at the AgustaWestland facility in Arlington, Texas in parallel with FAA Certification support work at AgustaWestland’s Philadelphia facility. The fourth prototype will be assembled in Philadelphia in 2016.

Full integration of the AW609 program into AgustaWestland Philadelphia’s operations is expected by third quarter 2015, and will include facility expansions as required to accommodate the AW609 TiltRotor engineering, certification, and aircraft assembly activities.

The AW609, the first tilt-rotor aircraft developed for the civilian market (Image © AgustaWestland)
The AW609, the first tilt-rotor aircraft developed for the civilian market (Image © AgustaWestland)

Lately AgustaWestland has increased the maximum take-off weight up to 18,000 lbs (8,165 kg) thanks to engine upgrades, landing gear modifications and optimized flight control techniques. These test results validate a sizeable increase in useful load that provides users with the capability to fly 500 nautical miles point-to-point with a full load of nine passengers in two hours.

To further enhance mission capabilities underwing auxiliary fuel tanks are being developed to increase range and endurance and ensure that the additional take-off performance may be built into a wide array of mission profiles. These will permit the aircraft to boost its maximum range to 1,100 nm (2,038 km) and allow users to transport six passengers over a range of 800 nm (1,482 km) in a little over three hours. The cabin door is also being enlarged on all variants to improve access, in particular for search-and-rescue (SAR) and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) operations.

The AW609 aircraft have so far logged nearly 1,200 hours. Nearly 60 aircraft have been ordered to date for a variety of roles and missions, including offshore transportation, emergency medical services and patient transfer, search and rescue, VIP, and law-enforcement operations.

Source: AgustaWestland
Featured image (top): The AW609, the first tilt-rotor aircraft developed for the civilian market (Image © AgustaWestland)

More cash to US Army AH-64E purchase

The Full Rate Lot 5 production of 35 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters is about to conclude. With completion date 31 July 2015 in sight, Boeing was awarded an additional 591,2 million US dollars to the earlier contract, on 19 February 2015.

Boeing is producing the newest version of the attack helicopter in Mesa, Arizona. The aircraft manufacturer hopes for a lot more than just the 35 it is currently working on. Both Boeing and the US Army confirmed last month they were talking about a new agreement for a whopping 240 AH-64Es, to be procured through fiscal years 2017 to 2021, for an estimated 4 billion dollars.

Last year the Apache Guardian was fielded in a real-war theatre for the first time, when 12 AH-64Es deployed together with 10 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks and 15 Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors with the 229th Aviation Regiment out of Joint Base Lewis McCord in Washington state to Afghanistan. Flying mainly out of Kandahar the Apache Guardians clocked about 11,000 flight hours.

Compared to earlier versions of the Apache, the Echo model has full digital cockpit avionics, a more powerful engine that also makes the chopper go faster (155 knots vs 125 on the D-model), rotor blades that can sustain damage better, a larger range and a longer in-the-air time.

The US Army will convert 634 AH-64D to the AH-64E standard, and get 56 new build Echos in the next decade. The AH-64E is in use by / ordered by Indonesia (8), the Republic of China Army (Taiwan, 29), the Republic of Korea Army (South Korea; 36) and the Royal Saudi Land Forces (unknown number).

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An AH-64E Apache Guardian from 1st Armed Reconnaissance Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade and a Mi-35 Attack Helicopter from 31st Squadron, Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat, take off for a flight together during a training mission in Semarang, Indonesia on 9 September 2014. Part of Garuda Shield 2014. Indonesia has ordered 8 AH-64Es to complement its Hind fleet (Image © 25th Combat Aviation Brigade / US Army)

1* Meet the new old US presidential ride

What do you do when you are responsible for the transport of the president of the United States, you just like this certain new flashy chopper, but crap what a nasty tender rules you have to respect? Then you just write the paperwork in a way that only your little bladed treasure will make it to within the fences of your beautiful mansion estate.

Now you have a garden party to look forward to. Write Meet my old new friend on your invitation card and whoops there it is: the old new Sikorsky presidential helicopter on the White House lawn.

The head-of-state of the world’s most powerful democracy and the unfortunate drowning man off the Irish Coast will in a few years share the same experience. Both will be ferried through the air by the VH-92 Superhawk helicopter.

As far as we know the Irish Republic had a proper competitive shopping run first, but it’s a whole different story on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The always freshly washed, shiny green-and-white presidential ride will not change brand nor colour. All due to clever clerks, some admirable lobby work by Sikorsky fans and quite likely a great deal of ol’ boys network politics by the Pentagon. The S-team outsmarted not only the house keepers at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, but scared off the competition as well.

,,After a comprehensive analysis of the final request of proposal, we determined that we were unable to compete effectively given the current requirements and the evaluation methodology defined in the document”, stated the spokesperson of AgustaWestland. The European company was earlier poised to offer its VH101 Merlin in co-operation with American Northrop Grumman.

The full-American Bell and Boeing companies dropped out too stating ,,problems with the structure of the competitive program”. No VH-47 Chinook or presidential VV-22 Osprey. The only remaining bidder: Sikorsky with the VH-92 Superhawk.

But what happened to the earlier star of the presidential helicopter show: the Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel helicopter based on the AW101 that already seemed to have won the show to replace the ageing VH-3D Sea King? It was shot down by the Pentagon despite the White House commitment in 2009 to produce five operational VH-71As, making Lockheed Martin change sides to the Sikorsky team.

Litterly bits and pieces of the once future US commander-in-chief VH-71 helicopter fleet are now in use by the Royal Canadian Air Force, where they help maintaining the RCAF’s 15 CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopters. The US presidential spare parts are now to protect and to serve the unfortunate drowning man off the Canadian coast.

© 2013 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

The Sikorsky S-92 Superhawk of the Garda Cósta na hÉireann (Image © Irish Coast Guard)
The Sikorsky S-92 Superhawk of the Garda Cósta na hÉireann (Image © Irish Coast Guard)

Touchdown for UK’s Lightning II No. 3

The third new Lightning II fighter for the UK touches down at Eglin AFB (Image © Lockheed Martin)
The third new Lightning II fighter for the UK touches down at Eglin AFB (Image © Lockheed Martin)
The UK’s third new Lightning II fighter jet (F-35B) arrived at Eglin AFB in Florida in June to start pilot and maintainer training, reports the press department of manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

USMC Lt. Col. Roger Hardy piloted the aircraft known as BK-3 (ZM137) on its 90-minute ferry flight from the F-35 production plant at NAS Fort Worth JRB.

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th Generation fighter, combining stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information and network-enabled operations.

Once delivered in several years from now the Lightning II will be deployed aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carriers. Therefore the B-version of the F-35 has special Short Take-off and Vertical Landing abilities. The US Marine Corps aims to have their F-35Bs at Initial Operational Capability in 2015.

The UK’s Lightnings are produced by Lockheed Martin in co-operation with Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Martin-Baker, SELEX, Cobham, Ultra Electronics, UTC Actuation Systems and Rolls-Royce.

Source: Lockheed Martin

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