Agusta Westland Says It Was A Success
Agusta Westland says it successfully completed the maiden flight
of the Japanese EH101, after just 44-weeks of assembly at Agusta
Westland's Yeovil facility in the UK. The helicopter, designated
KHI-01, is the first of 14 aircraft ordered by the Japanese Defense
Agency to meet its Transportation, Airborne Anti Mine Counter
Measures (AMCM) and Antarctic survey requirements.
Assembly of the aircraft at Yeovil was successfully completed in
just 44 weeks, a record timescale for a 'first of type' EH101. Alan
Johnston, Westland Helicopters Managing Director said: "Since
contract award 16 months ago we have achieved all our major program
milestones on schedule and we are delighted that the first flight
has now taken place."
Deputy Chief Test Pilot Andy Strachan, who took the controls for
the 30-minute flight said: "The aircraft performed exactly as
expected. We flew a standard initial test schedule including
aircraft system checks and aircraft/engine handling as well as
forward flight to 120 knots and low speed maneuvers."
Following an acceptance phase in the UK, the first aircraft will
support KHI Pilot training prior to being shipped to Japan later
this year. The aircraft will then undergo completion work by
Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), which will include the
installation of radio equipment, defensive aids suite and other
AgustaWestland and KHI signed a licence and purchase agreement
in 2003 to produce and support the Japanese EH101s. KHI has
established manufacturing, test flight and support facilities at
its Gifu works in Japan. Fourteen utility RTM322 powered,
rear-ramped variants of the EH101 have been ordered to replace the
Japan Maritime Self Defence Force's (JMSDF) fleet of Sikorsky
MH-53Es and S-61s.
AgustaWestland will prepare aircraft kits for the remaining 13
aircraft in the UK with final assembly taking place in Japan. The
KHI build line is due to receive the first two aircraft in the last
quarter of 2005 with delivery of the first aircraft to the JDA in
2006. KHI personnel have worked closely with AgustaWestland in the
UK over the last year, undergoing on-the-job training and assembly
familiarisation. Two pilots from KHI will start a four-month
flight-training program in February at Yeovil.
On January 28th, the USNavy selected the US101, an American
variant of the EH101, for a new fleet of "Marine One" helicopters
for the President of the United States. The 101 was selected based
on its proven capabilities, superior cabin space and excellent
The EH101 has also won competitions against its nearest
competitor in Denmark, Portugal and Japan highlighting its clear
advantage in capability and value for money. Many critical systems
are duplicated or triplicated, giving the EH101 a large level of
system redundancy and safety margin, something which is especially
important when operating in hostile environments.