Regardless of the year or manufacturer, Heli-Expo booths that really seem to turn heads typically involve the unveiling of new helicopter designs or variants. This year, the new kind on the block was the SKYe SH09 single-engine turbine from Marenco Swisshelicopter. The SH09 will feature a carbon fiber airframe from Switzerland’s OCP, avionics from Sagem and Honeywell’s HTS900 engine.
According to Commercial Director Mathias Senes, the company launched development of the helicopter in 2009. “We’re targeting that the aircraft will be ready within five years, so we’re looking at 2015, 2016. That will integrate the certification,” he says, adding that Swiss aviation authorities, EASA and FAA will be involved in the approvals process.
“We’ve gone from a clean sheet of paper, and this is not a facelift aircraft,” Mathias continues. “It’s not a redesign of a 1970s aircraft. Not that it’s bad to have a 1970s aircraft—that brings a lot of benefits, but it limits your development. … At the end of the day, we did not have those restrictions.”
Senes notes that the Honeywell HTS900 “will help us with prototyping and the first flight, but we are aware that the market in five years’ time will be expecting that we offer the dual choice of engines, so we’re also talking to large engine suppliers like Pratt & Whitney—which has a very good response from the market—or Turbomeca.”
Describing the SKYe SH09 as a “vertical takeoff platform,” Senes says that the helicopter is intended for numerous markets, including EMS, firefighting, electronic news gathering, surveillance, tourism “and passenger transport, whether in high-density or VIP. Utility is really a target—firefighting, as I said, is a really strong market for the sake of turbine.” Senes described a “fantastic reception” during the show, “not only from end users, but also from the operators and a very surprising and positive industrial support—where strong industrial players have come and opened their mind to us, and their possible ambition to cooperate with us.” That response also translated to a letter of intent from a private operator based in Germany. (From April 2011 Rotorcraft Report)
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