Marenco Swisshelicopter aims to begin in the coming weeks a series of flight tests to confirm the never exceed speed (Vne) of its SKYe SH09 light single.

Chief executive Martin Stucki says “what we would like to achieve” is a Vne “in the region of” of 150-160kt (278-296km/h, while maximum cruise is targeted for 135kt “but it looks like we might reach 140kt or even more”, he says.

“135kt we think is maybe a little bit conservative, but that is the minimum we would like to achieve.”

Test flights have been continuing through the summer with its second prototype SH09, and a third aircraft, closer to the production standard, is to arrive in the early part of 2017.

European certification is likely to be achieved in 2018, although “if everything goes unbelievably well we think that 2017 could be possible” says Stucki.

Construction began in August of the final assembly facility for the type in the Swiss town of Mollis. The helicopters will initially be built on a five-stage line, eventually moving to a 10-step process.

Marenco has taken in four firm orders and over 90 letters of intent for the Honeywell HTS900-powered SH09.

“That’s not so bad,” says Stucki. “It is important that we can show ourselves and our investor that we are developing a helicopter for which there’s a market.”

The SH09 will have a maximum take-off weight of 2,650kg (5,840lb) and Stucki claims it is the first new helicopter developed in the segment “since 1976”.