Kopter progresses, US production facility announced
Following its first flight on 22 November, the third prototype Marenco Kopter SH09 (P3) has completed more than fifty hours of testing at the company’s headquarters at Mollis, Switzerland. During these flights it climbed to 5,000ft, achieved a maximum speed of 126kt, and performed autorotations and short field takeoffs and landings.
P3 will now move to the company’s new test centre at Pozzallo, Sicily, where its flight envelope will be expanded and final configuration frozen in preparation for type certification. It will be used primarily to develop and test different mission configurations, avionics, cabin interiors and optional equipment.
Kopter is now finalising the design of the pre-series aircraft (PS4), which features an enlarged cabin accommodating one more passenger−now up to eight− following redesign of the fuel tank. The payload capabilities of the SH09 are confirmed, while the maximum takeoff weight has been increased to 2,850kg, or 3,000kg with external load. An additional aircraft, Pre-series 5 (PS5), will be added to the test fleet to cover the extension of the flight envelope for hot-and-high and low temperature conditions. At March’s HAI Heli-expo show in Atlanta, Georgia Kopter Group Chief Executive Officer Andreas Löwenstein announced that Lafayette, Louisiana will be home to the company’s US subsidiary, which will take over an 84,700sq ft production facility that was vacated by Bell last August. Kopter’s manufacturing headquarters in Mollis, Switzerland will produce SH09 subassemblies, with Lafayette undertaking final assembly, customisation, North American deliveries and customer support.
Kopter currently has 25 orders from US customers for the SH09, which is scheduled for certification and first deliveries next year. The first fully Us-assembled helicopter will be delivered from Lafayette in 2021.The company expects that the US market will account for some fifty per cent of sales during the first decade, and predicts that by 2025 production will reach 100 per year.
ABOVE: Swiss Marenco Kopter in its home Alpine setting