The Polish Navy’s first AW101 (ZR285) has flown for the first time from the Leonardo site in Yeovil, during which it demonstrated functional checks of the main airframe systems as well as the control system, and engine-handling checks were taken throughout to monitor the speed range of the aircraft.
The flight envelope will now be opened further with testing exploring the bespoke mission equipment fitted to the aircraft.
Leonardo is preparing four AW101 helicopters and a comprehensive integrated logistics and training package to the Polish Ministry of National Defense.
The helicopter will perform a range of missions for the Polish Navy, including Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) missions.
The AW101 for the Polish Naval Aviation Brigade will be equipped with modern mission systems, including autopilot with SAR modes, data transmission system, tactical navigation system and protection and defense systems both passive and active.
In addition, the AW101 will be equipped with a tactical radio, reconnaissance radar, an observation head (FLIR) and an S-mode transponder. It will also be equipped with a 12.7 mm machine gun. A searchlight and arrayed lights will ensure good visibility in all-weather conditions.
The aircraft will be optimized with medical and rescue equipment, including two winches and a system for carrying loads on the external suspension. The fleet will also be equipped with an emergency float system, life rafts, and a cold climate survival kit.
“The flight represents not only the culmination of the design and production processes but also the start of the thorough testing phase of the aircraft’s development,” Miles Barnett, Senior Test Pilot at Leonardo Helicopters U.K. commented.
“It is expected that there will be a total of 700 hours of flight testing across the four airframes which will confirm the correct function of each aircraft as well as develop and validate a broad range of mission and customer specific changes from the standard AW101.”
Designed with sophisticated avionics and mission systems, coupled with long range and endurance, thanks to its ability to use two out of three engines for cruise flights, the AW101 helicopter provides operational persistence for all missions.