Finmeccanica announced today that the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s first of 16 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters successfully performed its maiden flight on 21 March at its Helicopter Division Yeovil factory in the UK.
The successful on-schedule maiden flight marks a major milestone and the start of the flight test programme that will lead to initial aircraft deliveries to the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MoJ) in 2017. Aircraft deliveries will continue through to 2020.
“I am very pleased that Finmeccanica has reached this important milestone in the SAR helicopter project and thereby making good progress for the replacement of the aging Sea King helicopter with the new state-of-the-art AW101 by 2020,” says the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Mr. Anders Anundsen. “I would furthermore like to bring my sincere gratitude to the dedicated and hardworking team at the company who have made this first flight possible in time.”
In December 2013. the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security signed a contract for 16 AW101 helicopters plus support and training, to meet the Norwegian All Weather SAR Helicopter (NAWSARH) requirement based on a new generation aircraft. Each aircraft is provided with an advanced SAR equipment package including a multi-panel AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) surveillance radar system from Finmeccanica Airborne & Space Systems Division, built at the company's Edinburgh centre of excellence, that provides 360° coverage. The large cabin doors and rear ramp provide easy access for personnel, survivors and equipment into the 27 m3 cabin which has stand-up head room throughout.
Finmeccanica’s Helicopter Division will provide initial support and training services, including spares at each of the aircraft operating bases and aircrew training. It will then provide performance based logistic support to deliver approximately 90,000 flying hours across the fleet of 16 helicopters over the initial 15 year period of operation. In support of pilot training, a full flight simulator will be available in Norway in advance of the delivery of the first aircraft.