First Australian NH90 Multi role helicopter (MRH90) successfully performed its maiden flight at Eurocopter in Marignane
Marignane, 29 March 2007
Eurocopter has passed a central milestone in the Australian MRH90 helicopter procurement programme, having yesterday (March 28th) successfully undertaken the initial flight of the first MRH90 produced and assembled in Marignane, France. The Australian programme comprises the acquisition by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) of a total of 46 state-of-the-art helicopters, as well as the associated support for a ten year period This maiden flight of MRH90 MSN 01 (Manufacturer Serial Number), which took place at Eurocopter’s flight test centre in Marignane and lasted 1.0 hour and 30 minutes, was under the command of Eurocopter’s Test Pilot, Jean-Pierre Roldan. Reporting total satisfaction with the flight, he said: “We flew to an altitude of up to 4000ft and at maximum speed, and all of the aircraft’s main systems operated in accord with our expectations”.
The MRH-90 is the Australian variant of the world’s most advanced helicopter in the ten-tonne class, provided by NHIndustries (a co-operative industrial consortium comprising Eurocopter, Agusta and Fokker). Australia chose the MRH-90 over competing types as part of a program to modernize and rationalize its military helicopter fleet with the aim of developing a hardened and networked defence force. The MRH-90, a fly-by-wire, all-composite construction, mediumlift helicopter with highest crash-worthiness standards, was chosen ahead of the U.S.-built UH 60M Black Hawk.
Following assembly of first four Australian MRH90s at Eurocopter’s main plant in France and their subsequent shipment to Australia, the remaining, 42 aircraft will be produced at Australian Aerospace’s Brisbane plant, with the first two helicopters due for delivery to the ADF in December 2007. A 10-year, through-life support program will be carried out in Australia. Altogether, the MRH-90 programme will generate 400 highly skilled new jobs in Australia and will inject A$ 1.1 billion into the national economy. Expanding local production and support for the MRH-90s will make Australia one of the cornerstones of the global supply chain of the Eurocopter network, which includes the local subsidiary, Australian Aerospace. Acknowledged as the world’s leading advanced-combat helicopter in its class, 445 NH90s have now been ordered by 13 countries, including the 46 Australian Army-destined aircraft and nine for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).
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Australian Aerospace – key industrial asset and prime contractor
Created in 2003, Australian Aerospace has become a major defence supplier of the Australian government, having a 77 per cent market share. At the same time, the company leads the domestic Australian civil helicopter market, with a 40 percent market share.
Through its subsidiary, Australian Aerospace and its Regional Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, Eurocopter assembles, tests, supplies, maintains, modifies and enhances civil and military aircraft for the Australian and export markets. Currently, the company is assembling and delivering 18 of 22 Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters to the Australian Army This program will be followed by 42 multi-role MRH-90s for the troop and utility-lift role.
At the same time, Australian Aerospace assembles and delivers the EC120 Colibri light civil helicopter for customers throughout the Asia Pacific region, as well as supports more than 350 Eurocopter helicopters currently active in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Australian Aerospace is currently investing A$15 million in a state-of-the-art composite fibre manufacturing plant in Queensland.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a Division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace, defense and related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approx. 14,000 people. In 2006, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer with a turnover of 3.8 billion euros, orders for 615 new helicopters, and a 52 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors. Its strong worldwide presence is ensured by its 17 subsidiaries on five continents, along with a dense network of distributors, certified agents and maintenance centers. More than 9,800 Eurocopter helicopters are currently in service with about 2,800 customers in 140 countries. Eurocopter offers the largest civil and military helicopter range in the world. Overall, the Group’s products account for 30 percent of the total world helicopter fleet.
A Century of Vertical Flight
The first-ever vertical flight was made by Paul Cornu in 1907. Since then, the spirit of conquest, technological progress and innovative ideas have made the helicopter an indispensable vehicle for saving lives, protecting the public and contributing to the economic development of the world. Eurocopter is proud to celebrate this anniversary during 2007 and to share its passion for helicopters.
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