Swiss helicopter developer Kopter has performed the maiden sortie of its latest AW09 prototype – the first to be fitted with the Safran Helicopter Engines Arriel 2K powerplant.

Taking place on 16 March at the Mollis facility of the Leonardo Helicopters-owned firm, the flight lasted around 20min.

AW09 PS4 first flight (1)

Source: Kopter

Aircraft PS4 incorporates several changes over previous prototypes

Manouevres performed with the light-single included low-altitude hovers, spot turns, forward and sideways flights at speeds of up to 20kt (37km/h), along with several take-offs and landings.

Kopter in January dropped the AW09’s original Honeywell HTS900 engine in favour of the Arriel 2K.

AW09 PS4 first flight (3)

Source: Kopter

Maiden sortie lasted around 20min

The latest prototype – designated aircraft pre-serial (PS) 4 – will be used for the bulk of test flights as the airframer attempts to secure certification for the AW09 in 2024. A further test asset, aircraft PS5, will arrive later this year.

In addition to the new engine, aircraft PS4 incorporates other improvements validated on earlier prototypes.

Leonardo Helicopters acquired Kopter in April 2020 for $185 million.