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In an event held Feb. 1 at the company’s new headquarters in Wetzikon, Switzerland, Marenco Swisshelicopter has unveiled its new name — Kopter.
The new moniker is short, gives immediate product recognition and can easily be pronounced on international markets, CEO Andreas Loewenstein emphasized. “As we are an unmistakably Swiss company, the use of a “k” — instead of a ‘c’ — gives the Kopter a strong, Swiss-Germanic feel. It has the feeling of solidity and dependability — two things that are essential in our industry,” he added.
He pledged Kopter will be among the top three civil helicopter manufacturers in 10 years.
The first product of the would-be airframer, a large-cabin single, is keeping its designation as the SKYe SH09. However, it is seeing its target certification date slipping to the right again, as Loewenstein said it will happen “in the next 12-14 months.” The first delivery is slated for the second half of 2019.
Prototype P2 is about to complete flight-testing before P3 takes over this quarter, according to Michele Riccobono, executive vice president of technology. After P1, described as “a demonstrator” that flew a mere 1.5 hours, P2 is used to “de-risk” the program.
The latter aircraft has flown some 70 hours. It was used recently to solve a major issue that had been keeping engineers busy for a long time, Riccobono explained. A resonance phenomenon was causing too strong vibrations and high loads on the flight controls. The problem disappeared thanks to “a new set of main rotor blades,” made “slightly stiffer.” He said they were installed a few weeks ago and successfully flight-tested.
P3 will essentially open the flight envelope. PS4, the first “pre-series” SH09, is planned to fly next summer. They are anticipated to fly 250 and 110 hours, respectively. Kopter will use a flight-test facility in Southern Italy, hoped to provide better weather than Switzerland.
Loewenstein claimed to have more than 166 commitments for the SH09, including 27 firm orders.