Finmeccanica announced today that the first of 16 AgustaWestland AW101 search and rescue helicopters for Norway completed its maiden flight, last March 21, at the Helicopters division of Yeovil, UK.
The event, a fundamental step in the development of the relative program that proceeds on schedule, marks the start of in-flight testing, which will be followed, starting with 2017, by the start of deliveries to the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Safety. The helicopters will be used by the Norwegian Air Force. Deliveries will be completed by the 2020.
“I am really pleased with this important result achieved by Finmeccanica as part of the program for our new search and rescue helicopter. Thus, another step forward towards the replacement, within the 2020, of the current Sea King aircraft with the new and more modern AW101, "said the Minister of Justice and Public Security in Norway, Anders Anundsen.
"I therefore wish to express my sincere gratitude to the staff of the company, which made it possible, thanks to its hard work and commitment, to complete this first flight".
The contract for the 16 AW101s, aimed at meeting Norway's requirement for a next-generation search and rescue helicopter, was signed by the Ministry of Justice and Public Safety in December 2013. The aircraft will be equipped with advanced mission equipment, including a modern electronic scanning radar system (AESA - Active Electronically Scanned Array), built in the center of excellence in Edinburgh by Finmeccanica's Avionics and Space Systems division, and capable of ensuring 360 ° coverage. The large rear ramp allows the crew and rescued subjects to quickly and easily access the 27 cubic meter cabin, high enough to allow standing and easy positioning of mission material.
La Helicopters division of Finmeccanica will provide an initial package of support and training services for each of the aircraft operating bases. Logistical support will allow 16 helicopters to fly for around 90.000 hours during the first 15 years of operations. Norway will also be provided with a modern flight simulator, for the training of crews before the start of AW101 deliveries.