ILA 2010: CH-53GA makes its debut
Eurocopter's upgraded CH-53GA transport helicopter made its public debut at the ILA Airshow on 8 June.
The aircraft on display is the second prototype, which first flew?at the end of May, making its fifth and sixth flights to get to the show from the Eurocopter facility at Donauworth in Bavaria.
The CH-53GA is a major upgrade programme of the current Sikorsky CH-53, encompassing a new avionics fit, a new electronic warfare system, an infrared turret and communications equipment.
Also fitted is a new automatic flight control system (AFCS) and four-axis autopilot similar to that fitted to the EC225/725 and other members of the Eurocopter family.
Ralph-Dieter Wetzel, CH-53GA Programme Manager, told Rotorhub.com that work on the programme was progressing well.
'During 2010 we hope to complete 75 hours of development flying and 2011 will see the certification flying. We hope to achieve certification in the third quarter of 2011,' Wetzel said.
The new avionics suite has required the fitment of a third avionics bay above the ramp in the rear of the helicopter.
The aircraft's electrical system has been fully replaced, while the type's design life has now been extended from 6,000 flight hours to 10,000 flight hours. This should allow the aircraft to operate right through to 2025-2030 when?it is due to be replaced by the European Future Transport Helicopter (FTH).
Antoine Van Gent, flight test engineer on the CH-53GA, said that pilots who had flown the GA appreciated the new avionics fit.
'This upgrade isn't about making it easier to fly the aircraft, but operating it more efficiently and effectively. With the new displays, the cockpit can be configured to meet the requirements of the pilots, and they will be able to be more flexible, they can operate the FLIR or use the digital maps,? Van Gent said.
Unfortunately the spectacular Germany Army role demonstration, one of the traditions of the ILA show, will not take place this year. The display normally involves more than a dozen helicopters including up to six CH-53s, but the army pulled the plug just over a week ago saying it wanted to save money and keep operational readiness.'
Email this to a friend.