Airbus Helicopters has reported the maiden flight of the second prototype of an upgraded version of the NH90 for the German Navy.
The second prototype of the NH90 Sea Lion ordered by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support lifted off from the Donauwörth site of Airbus Helicopters for its maiden flight on 24th November.
The company says it is now entering a development testing phase of several months that will focus on avionics and software. Activities for the qualification of the delivery configuration are scheduled to start over the course of 2018 once additional modifications have been made to the prototype.
The Sea Lions will be the first NH90s to be delivered by NH Industries with advanced civil navigation capabilities. They will be equipped with the CMC Electronics CMA-9000 Flight Management System (FMS) and CMA-5024 GPS Landing System.
They will be deployed primarily for search and rescue (SAR), transportation and other specialised missions, and will replace the force's ageing fleet of Sikorsky Sea Kings.
Deliveries of the 18 machines ordered by the German Navy are scheduled to start at the end of 2019, a timetable that Airbus Helicopters is convinced it can meet, though describing it as “demanding”.
Final assembly of the first Sea Lion series-production aircraft also started recently; this will run in parallel to the qualification process.
The maiden flight of the first prototype took place in December 2016.