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Feature story Expanding the mission: U.S. Navy takes delivery of first H-72A helicopters
November 16, 2009
The positive handling qualities, advanced cockpit and operational reliability that have made EADS North America’s UH-72A Light Utility Helicopter a favorite among U.S. Army aviators will soon be discovered by a new generation of test pilots, who are to train on the H-72A version now being delivered to the U.S. Navy.
A total of five H-72As are being acquired for the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland, where the initial two aircraft were formally accepted during a ceremony this month.
"We think the Navy will find the H-72A to be an extraordinarily useful helicopter,” said EADS North America Chief Operating Officer David Oliver, Jr., speaking at the November 12 event. “They will find that it is very durable, with the lowest downtime and most modern technologies. Overall, the Navy will find it a pleasure to fly.”
The H-72A uses the same airframe, engines and basic systems as the UH-72A Lakota, with additions for its new training role that include jettisonable cockpit doors for rapid egress, a cargo hook weighing system and a traffic advisory system. Also incorporated on the aircraft are voice and flight data recorders, an underwater locator beacon and an enhanced mast moment indicator.
All five H-72As are being acquired through the U.S. Army’s ongoing UH-72A Lakota contract with EADS North America, and they are being painted in the Navy Test Pilot School’s distinctive white and orange color scheme. When in service with the Navy, the H-72As will train test pilots from both the U.S. military and allied countries.
To commemorate the first two H-72A deliveries, Oliver presented a framed photograph that was taken during the no. 1 H-72A’s maiden flight in Columbus, Mississippi – home to the UH-72A/H-72A production line. The photograph was accepted by Navy Capt. Greg Wallace, the program manager for Patuxent River Naval Air Station’s Commercial Derivative and Support Aircraft Program Office, and Lt. Col. Roger Cordell, USMC, the commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.
“This is a great day for us,” said Cordell. “It is the day that we officially make the H-72A a part of our inventory, and the day we recommit ourselves to training the finest rotary-wing test pilots in the world.“
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