Enstrom Announces First Flight of New 480B Helicopter

The flight marks the first since production resumed following Surack Enterprises’ purchase of the company after its bankruptcy filing last year.

Enstrom has resumed production of its 480B turbine helicopter. [Credit: Shutterstock]

Enstrom said it completed the first flight of a new 480B turbine helicopter since resuming operations eight months ago following bankruptcy proceedings.

The 480B is the 1317th helicopter Enstrom has built and the 255th of its 480 series, the company said, noting that the recently flown aircraft was not a “left-over airframe” from the pre-bankruptcy assembly line but was built with components newly made and assembled onsite.

Cody Parkovich, Enstrom’s production test pilot, flew the first new 480B and reported, “No issues. We were able to complete all our flight test steps on schedule. The team did a great job putting this helicopter together.”

Enstrom, based in Menominee, Michigan, received a production certificate from the FAA in December, allowing it to resume building helicopters. After 65 years in business, the company had shut down in January 2022, after declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Last May, Chuck Surack, the founder of Indiana-based Surack Enterprises, purchased Enstrom with plans to rebuild the brand.

“This was a critical milestone in our plan to not just bring back Enstrom, but to start to reinvent ourselves and the way we operate. It took all functions to focus on the objective. New supplier relationships, new machinists and fabricators and luckily many from prior years, better print definitions, a high standard of workmanship, and everyone onsite helping each other cross-functionally to bring us back online,” said Enstrom chief operating officer Adam Richardson.

Enstrom said it will display the new helicopter at next month’s Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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