Swiss helicopter start-up Marenco announced the Skye SH09 single-engined will enter service with at least two launch customers in 2019.

Alpinlift Helikopter has converted a letter of intent for two SH09s into firm orders, joining Air Zermatt as the second of several planned launched customers for the 3t-class single, says newly-appointed chief executive Andreas Lowenstein.

Marenco is still searching for more operators to join a launch group for the all-composite SH09, which features a Safran-developed flight deck and a Honeywell HTS900 turboshaft engine, Lowenstein says.

Alpinlift and Air Zermatt operate amidst the mountainous terrain in Switzerland, making them ideal operators to test the aircraft’s reliability.

“If we satisfy them we are satisfied the aircraft is mature for normal operations,” Lowenstein says.

After making major changes to the rotor system with the second flying prototype, Marenco is making only small changes as the third prototype advances through final assembly.

“We are stabilizing the configuration,” he says. “At one point you have to freeze development. We’re almost there. We made some improvements but not to the rotor system.”

The company still expects to complete certification at the end of 2018, with deliveries to customers following the next year.