As the AB139 test program moves forward on schedule, three AB139's have now accumulated over 320 hours of flight time, while a fourth "Tie-Down Helicopter" has completed over 400 hours of engine and systems testing.
Meanwhile, two full size mock-ups of the aircraft have been touring the US, one with a corporate interior and the other equipped for search-and-rescue.
The mock-ups started in Orlando for the Helicopter Association International tradeshow before touring several cities in Florida, New Jersey and Washington DC. At the same time, 1/10 scale models were on display in February at Asian Aerospace in Singapore and in March at Helicopter World's Search and Rescue Conference in Brighton, UK. IFR certification under FAA/ENAC is expected in the fourth quarter of 2002, with first deliveries to follow.
Thus far, aircraft testing has been undertaken across a range of temperatures and under a range of different load configurations and flight conditions. The tests have been successful, confirming or exceeding the expected performance:
--Continuous speed of 157 knots --a maximum ceiling of 20,000 ft --a hover out of ground effect (HOGE) of 12,000 ft, and --a maximum rate of climb of 2,200 ft/min.
As the aircraft moves closer to certification, the finishing touches are being put on its emergency medical, corporate, law enforcement and search-and-rescue configurations.
Each configuration is being developed together with key operators in each market, and progress is being made in identifying specific equipment and options packages for customer selection.