The Swiss air force’s first of 18 EC635 helicopters conducted a 35min debut flight from Eurocopter’s Donauworth facility in Germany today, ahead of the type’s delivery to the service from early next year.
To replace the air force’s Aerospatiale Alouette IIIs, the new aircraft are to be used for training and transport duties, with all 18 to be delivered by late 2009. The programme’s first four aircraft will be built at Donauworth, with the remainder to be completed by Swiss firm Ruag in Alpnach. The company will also assemble a further two EC635s for Switzerland’s Federal Air Transport Services under the nation’s April 2006 contract with Eurocopter.
Eurocopter says Switzerland’s first EC635 – a military derivative of the commercial EC135 light twin – will now undergo qualification trials of its national-specific equipment before being delivered in March or April next year.
The Royal Jordanian Air Force was the launch customer and only previous buyer for the EC635, with nine of its 13 aircraft having been delivered, according to Flight’s HeliCAS database.