Paul Derby

The fourth prototype (PT4) of the NH90 helicopter made its maiden flight in the run-up to Le Bourget as the four partnership nations prepare to firm up their commitment to the programme.

The customers - Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands - are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with prime contractor NH Industries this week, in advance of the formal contract signing later this year.

Eurocopter Deutschland's test centre near Munich was the setting for the PT4 flight which lasted 75 minutes and saw the aircraft reach 140kts maximum speed and an altitude of 5,000ft.


PT4 is representative of the tactical transport version of the NH90 and features a full glass cockpit, fly-by-wire controls with automatic flight control and the dual bus core avionic system.

The aircraft also has FLIR (forward looking infra-red) targeting, a helmet mounted sight and display, digital map generator, weather radar and electronic warfare system.

Power is provided by two Turbomeca RTM322-01/9 engines.

NH Industries says the aircraft's flight envelope has been expanded to an altitude of 20,000ft, at speeds up to 190kts, with a maximum gross weight of 10,000kg.

PT1 is being used to test alternative powerplant - the General Electric-Alfa Romeo T700/T6E - while the second prototype is focusing on development of the fly-by-wire control system.

PT3 is developing the core avionic system, comprising communication, navigation, automatic flight control and plant management systems. The three prototypes have logged a total 420 hours of flight time.

NH Industries says development of the navalised version of the aircraft (NFH) is progressing well, concentrating on evaluation of the tactical control system, in addition to the main rotor blades and tail boom automatic folding system.

Source: Flight Daily News