A meeting to decide on industrialisation of the European NH Industries (NHI) NH90 transport helicopter has been postponed while major issues of production offtake and investment return are resolved.

Talks between NHI and the armaments directors of the four partner countries (France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands) were meant to take place at the Paris air show in June, with the hope of settling the vexed question of tooling and production for up to 630 helicopters.

Differences over production offtake and the resulting national workshares. however, have meant that tough negotiations are continuing. NHI is proposing cost figures based on an initial 240-helicopter production batch "We are still hoping that figure will stand," says a source close to the project.

Eurocopter France is understood also to be in tough talks with the French Government on the financial returns it expects as a result of its 41.6% share of the $1.54 billion development phase, 17% of which it financed itself. Sources say that it is looking for an "understanding" on French orders before it will agree to industrialisation.

The second NH90, meanwhile, has been flown for the first time with its fly-by-wire (FBW) flight-control system (FCS) operational. According to NH90 prime contractor NHI, the flight was a "complete success".

The test followed a delay resulting from problems with the mechanism which enables the mechanical FCS to be switched to FBW. These have now been resolved, says NHI. "We flew the helicopter at 90kt [165km/h] and 30¹ of bank-the pilots were quite happy with the system function," it adds.

NHI says that the FBW system is needed to reduce workload so that the pilot can concentrate on more sophisticated threats.

It also cites weight and complexity reduction through the elimination of the control mixing units, optimisation of handling qualities throughout the ßight envelope and reduction in vulnerability.

Source: Flight International