11/26/2007 - AgustaWestland has successfully
completed the qualification flight testing of the new
generation BERP IV AW101 main rotor blades. The new
technology blades will enter operational service in
early 2008 on the UK's Royal Air Force fleet of AW101
Merlin Mk.3A helicopters.
The BERP IV program commenced in 2000 with a
technology selection and integration phase leading to
the design and manufacturing phase in 2002. The blades
first flew in September 2006 and have now completed a
13 month flight test programme during which the AW101
was flown at speeds up to 198 knots and at altitudes
of 13,000 ft. Aircraft fitted with BERP IV blades have
also been flown at weights up to 16,500 kg - 1,900 kg
over the normal Merlin gross weight and 900 kg over
the current AW101 maximum gross weight.
The BERP IV main rotor blades have now been
productionised and manufactured by AgustaWestland
within six months of a contract award by the MoD to
support an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) for
increased hot and high lift capability on the AW101
Merlin Mk 3A helicopters. The blades can also be
directly retrofitted to other AW101 variants as a
direct replacement for the existing blades.
Graham Cole, Managing Director - Business at
AgustaWestland said “The BERP IV rotor blades deliver
significant capability improvements for the AW101
which the Royal Air Force and other customers will
greatly appreciate. The speed at which we have evolved
the BERP IV blade technology is a credit to the joint
Ministry of Defence and AgustaWestland team."
Source: AgustaWestland Press Release