Enstrom Helicopters announced that the flight test program for its two-seat TH180, currently in development, is progressing on schedule with the second prototype building flight hours. “We are into the envelope expansion phase,” said Enstrom test pilot Bill Taylor. “We’ve had it out over 90 knots so far, and everything is performing as expected.”
A third, fully conforming prototype is currently being built at the factory in Menominee, Michigan. That airframe is expected to take to the skies later this year.
Powered by a Lycoming HIO-390 engine, the $365,000 TH180 is designed for ease of maintenance and low cost of operation, Enstrom said. While the panel options have yet to be announced, Enstrom’s director of sales, Orlando Alaniz, promises “modern avionics.” The helicopter will also be equipped with digital engine instrumentation and an electronic throttle governor, Alaniz said.
Enstrom announced the TH180 program at the Helicopter Association International’s Heli-Expo in 2014. The helicopter was designed as a training platform and several ab-initio training operators have signed up as customers. However, Enstrom said customers who plan to use the helicopter for light commercial and private use have also signed memorandums of understanding for the TH180.
Certification is on track to be complete sometime next year, Enstrom said.
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