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The NH90 ends French Army Operational Engineering Trials with Flying Colors

From 17 to 30 September 2005, the NH90 was in the hands of the Gamstat (Airmobile Group of the French Army Engineering Branch) for an evaluation of its tactical capabilities. The test aircraft was the PT4 with German Army markings.

Marignane, 24 October 2005

The trials team of pilots Jean Colin (Gamstat) and Jean-Michel Feydey (CEV), flight test engineer Denis Petitpas (CEV), flight engineer Dominique Uhring (Gamstat), and systems officer François Maches (Gamstat) have logged 13 flight hours.

Eurocopter Deutschland had supplied a team of ground mechanics to help prepare the helicopter.

The main aims of the trials were to verify that the mission system operated as intended in an operational environment, and to validate the flight vision system. Another objective was to study work sharing between crew members.

After an initial daytime familiarization flight, the majority of the missions took place at night to successively test the utilization of the standard ALAT night vision goggles (NVG) and then the Topowl helmet coupled to the piloting FLIR. Both systems will be fitted on the ALAT aircraft.

The FLIR-coupled Topowl helmet displays a vizor-projected image from an infrared camera pointing in the direction in which the pilot is looking. The pilot can thus control his aircraft "from the outside" without interference from the cockpit structures.

This concept will revolutionize nighttime nap-of-the-earth (NOE) flying according to the Gamstat crew, who did however report that a short period of adaptation was necessary.

The nighttime NOE flights were made in the Valence (Drôme) area at heights of 0 to 400 ft and at speeds of 130 to 140 kts. NOE observation flights were also flown by Gazelles equipped with the Viviane sight or Mistral missiles to measure the infrared signature of the new European tactical transport helicopter.

The engineering trials finished with a final 90-minute flight involving a complex scenario: after taking off at night, the NH90 performed an IFR penetration, followed by a visual NOE flight, before picking up a commando and returning to its base with its autopilot in simulated degraded mode.

The pilots emphasized the advantages of the fly-by-wire controls in these conditions, i.e. substantially less workload for the crew (who can concentrate more on their mission) and a level of maneuverability, normally only attainable with lighter helicopters.

The NH90 is now in the midst of its qualification phase. The French Army Air Corps (ALAT) should receive its initial NH90s in 2011 in the TTH version.

Eurocopter is a wholly-owned subsidiary of EADS. EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2004, EADS generated revenues of € 31.8 billion and employed a workforce of about 110,000. The EADS Group includes the aircraft manufacturer Airbus, the world's largest helicopter supplier Eurocopter and the joint venture MBDA, the international leader in missile systems. EADS is the major partner in the Eurofighter consortium, is the prime contractor for the Ariane launcher, develops the A400M military transport aircraft and is the largest industrial partner for the European satellite navigation system Galileo.

For further information, please contact:
Jean-Louis ESPES
Tel.: + 33 (0) 4 42 85 95 55
Fax: + 33 (0) 4 42 85 95 64

Christina GOTZHEIN
Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH
Tel.: + 49 (0) 89 60 00 64 88
Fax: + 49 (0) 89 60 00 44 37

Jesus RUIZ
Eurocopter España, S.A.
Tel.: + 34 91 511 04 70
Fax: + 34 91 511 04 69

Christopher BACH
Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH
Tel.: +49 (0) 906 71 4565
Fax: +49 (0) 906 71 3939

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