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HELI-EXPO: Engine delivery quickens pace to first flight for Swiss helo

Swiss engineering firm Marenco now plans to launch flight tests by June on a new 2,500kg (5,500lb)-class helicopter after having received a calibrated Honeywell HTS-900 engine.

Waiting for the arrival of the SKYe SH09's 875shp powerplant delayed first flight of the prototype vehicle by about six months, says Wayne Barbini, Marenco flight test coordinator.

Marenco plans to introduce the SH09 into service by 2015, addressing what the manufacturer considers a gap of capability in the light single-engine helicopter sector.

Testing activity is now expected to pick up momentum as the HTS900 is installed in the all-composite airframe. Ground tests are scheduled to commence in May on the first prototype, Barbini says.

Meanwhile, a second prototype is in construction and is scheduled to enter testing in 2014. A production-conforming third test aircraft is expected to be assembled by later that year, allowing certification tests to begin, says Barbini.

Regulators in Europe and the USA are also preparing for the debut flight test programme of the engineering firm-turned-aviation manufacturer.

Marenco is meeting with a delegation from the US Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) rotorcraft directorate in Fort Worth, Texas, next week, Barbini says.

The SH09 will be certificated first by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), with the FAA expected to re-validate a portion of the airworthiness standards about four or five months later.

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