Kopter Group’s third prototype SH09 developmental helicopter has received clearance to begin flight testing in Switzerland.
The so-called P3 aircraft, designed in Switzerland and assembled at the Kopter facility at Mollis airfield, incorporates several improvements and modifications based on testing of prototypes 1 and 2.
P3 flew from Mollis airfield for 40 minutes and successfully completed its first flight test schedule, which included a series of maneuvers aimed at obtaining preliminary flight data, validating test design features and evaluating flight qualities, the company said Nov. 26.
“P3 demonstrated excellent handling characteristics today, I expect Kopter to make rapid progress in development of the SH09,” Kopter Chief Test Pilot Richard Trueman said after the flight.
Kopter’s Chief Technical Officer and Head of Flight Operations Michele Riccobono was on board P3 with Adam Reynolds, the company’s chief flight test engineer.
“I am very pleased with P3, the Kopter design team have developed this latest SH09 to bring forward Kopter development and certification activity over the coming months. With P3, we have a key tool for this task,” Riccobono said.
P3 will continue the development of the SH09 by performing an intensive flight test campaign in Sicily. Meanwhile, Kopter will finalize the preparation of the next prototype, the pre-series No. 4 (PS4), which will join P3 in 2019 to undertake flight testing in Sicily.
“I am proud of the Kopter team and its ability to develop the next generation single engine rotorcraft,” said Kopter CEO Andreas Lowenstein. “With P3 we are set on the path towards delivery to our customers." He added, “We have seen a tremendous response from the market for the SH09, which offers the highest standards of safety, mission capability and cost efficiency, which our customers are asking for."
Kopter has about 65 SH09 aircraft under either firm contracts or letters of intent to buy that will turn into commitments once certification is reached, Loewenstein told a few reporters Oct. 15 before the Helitech International conference in Amsterdam. Orders announced at the conference bring that total to 70.
The company is seeing enough demand for its developmental SH09 multirole helicopter that company officials are planning to build hundreds of them annually within four years of gaining certification.
First flight of the SH09 should occur before the end of the month and certification by EASA is "imminent," the company said at Helitech, where it also announced firm orders for four more aircraft. Production and deliveries will begin as soon after certification as possible.