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In March 2019, Kopter transferred the third prototype (P3) of the SH09 helicopter together with a team composed of 20 flight test engineers, pilots and mechanics to Sicily to set up an additional flight test base in Pozzallo.
Pozzallo provides the perfect operational conditions to conduct the SH09 intensive flight test campaign needed in the frame of certification. It offers very limited restrictions and favorable weather conditions throughout the year, while giving the opportunity to experience a demanding climate with hot temperatures, high humidity, strong winds and a salty atmosphere.
Since its arrival and over a period of two months, the flight test crew performed 34 flights with P3, allowing the aircraft to reach around 100 flight test hours. In this timeframe, the first major inspection has been carried out successfully.
The major outcome is the opening of the SH09 flight envelope up to 10,000 feet altitude and up to a speed of 135 knots. During all flights, P3 performed as expected and generated a large volume of valuable data that are being used to finalize the design of the serial production SH09.
The next phase of the flight test campaign, after implementing some aerodynamic refinements further improving P3 handling qualities and the retrofit of the main gear box housing, will see P3 going higher, faster and further. It will allow gathering the remaining data needed to finalize the configuration of Pre-Series aircrafts n°4 and n°5 (PS4 & PS5), which will contribute to the certification flights next year.
2020 remains the target for European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification. Kopter management and team are fully committed to deliver the SH09 with the highest levels of safety, performance, flight qualities and competitiveness.