The first improved Boeing CH-47SD Chinook is in final assembly ready for a planned October roll-out. Meanwhile, work has begun on remanufacturing the first two US Army machines to the modernised CH-47F configuration under the Improved Cargo Helicopter (ICH) programme.

With the switch to the new CH-47SD, Boeing hopes to sustain production of the veteran heavylift helicopter at a rate of two a month. "Our goal is to sell 24 helicopters a year to maintain an economical flow," says Boeing regional sales manager Samuel Mayer. "We already have orders booked through to early 2001."

The first of six new CH-47SDs for Singapore is due for delivery by the end of the year. Greece has signed a letter of acceptance for seven, and the US Congress has approved an offer of nine to Taiwan. Boeing is also competing for orders from Finland and Turkey, along with a separate pan-Scandinavian requirement.

Boeing's modernised SD cockpit includes a Honeywell avionics control and management system comprising four mission multifunction liquid crystal displays (LCDs), four smaller electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) displays, two control display units and two mission integrated system processors. Options include a weather radar, missile and radar warning receivers and chaff/flare dispensers.

Many of the SD improvements are being incorporated into eight Royal Air Force HC3s due for delivery in 1999, including a night vision goggle compatible cockpit and uprated 3,650kW (4,900shp) AlliedSignal T55-714A turboshafts with full authority digital engine control. The HC3s will also have the SD's larger 7,830litre (2,070USgal) tankage and provision for inflight refuelling.

Under a separately funded $24 million US-UK programme, Boeing plans to develop a new low-maintenance rotor with a dry hub, elastomeric bearings and 70% fewer parts. It hopes to be awarded a contract by the end of the first quarter and eventually to incorporate the new rotor as part of the SD and ICH.

The first modified CH-47F flight test helicopter is due to fly in July 2001, and Boeing anticipates a full production contract to remanufacture 30 by the end of the year. The US Army plans to modernise 300 CH-47Ds by 2013.

The ICH shares 80% commonality with the SD, but will be fitted with a new-build section 41 (cockpit structure)and Rockwell Collins-supplied cockpit avionics, including two LCDs, an EFIS and Harris colour digital map. The airframe will be stiffened, to reduce vibration by 50%.

Source: Flight International