The US president's next helicopter, the Sikorsky VH-92A, flew for the first time on 28 July in Stratford, Connecticut, Lockheed Martin announces in a 3 August news release.

The presidential transport variant of the S-92 took off from Sikorsky headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut. In two sorties, the aircraft completed checked off several test points, including hover control, low-speed forward flight, and a pass over the airfield.

The flight with Sikorsky’s first engineering manufacturing and development aircraft marks the start of a 250h flight test programme at Lockheed’s facilities in Owego, New York, Lockheed says.

“Having independently tested the aircraft’s components and subsystems, we are now moving forward to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test programme,” says Spencer Elani,Sikorsky's VH-92A programme director.

The EMD-2 aircraft will complete additional testing over the course of the 12-month flight test programme, according to Sikorsky.

The first flight comes three years after the US Navy awarded Sikorsky a $1.24 billion contract to produce two test aircraft and four production aircraft, with options remaining for 17 aircraft that will be finalised in fiscal year 2019.

The programme is on schedule and should receive approval for production in 2019. The Marines Corps, which operates the HMX-1 presidential aircraft squadron, accelerated the schedule by removing some exquisite capabilities, such as the ability to dump fuel from aircraft.

The VH-92A will replace an aging fleet of Sikorsky VH-3 helicopters based on the Vietnam-era S-61 helicopter.