CHRISTINA MACKENZIE / PARIS
Debut follows replacement of mechanical back-up device installed during development
NH Industries' PT3 prototype of the NH90 transport became on 12 December the first helicopter to fly equipped exclusively with fly-by-wire controls, following the replacement of mechanical back-up controls installed on the co-pilot's side of the aircraft for safety reasons during the programme's development phase.
The newly reconfigured PT3 platform is representative of the production-standard NH90, which is the world's first series-produced helicopter to fly with full fly-by-wire controls.
Test pilot Philippe Boutry,test engineer Denis Trivier and flight-test technician Jean-Claude Rabany were able to test the aircraft's entire flight envelope duringthe 50min flight, which was carried out at Eurocopter's site at Marignane near Marseilles.
The first deliveries of the NH90 will be made in the tactical transport version to Germany and Italy in 2004, with the anti-submarine version being delivered to France and Italy the following year.
Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Sweden have also ordered the NH90, taking total orders to 397, including 72 options.
Source: Flight International