The US Marine Corps (USMC) has conducted the first flight of a VH-92A-configured test aircraft in support of its VH-92A Presidential Helicopter Replacement Programme at Lockheed Martin facilities in Owego, New York.
A second flight of the aircraft was also later completed at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Connecticut.
The two sorties involved a total flight time of one hour and included hover control checks, low-speed flight and a pass of the airfield.
Sikorsky VH-92A Programme director Spencer Elani said: “This first flight of the VH-92A configured test aircraft is an important milestone for the programme.
“Having independently tested the aircraft’s components and subsystems, we are now moving forward to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test programme.”
The test aircraft is known as Engineering Development Model 1 (EDM-1) and will be joined by an additional test aircraft (EDM-2) over the course of the 250-hour flight test programme, which is slated to continue for 12 months.
EDM-1 has been developed by Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky under a $1.24bn fixed-price incentive engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract awarded by the US Navy in May 2014.
Sikorsky is contracted to develop a total of six aircraft under the EDM award, including two units to be used as test aircraft and four as production aircraft.
The deal will also include production options for additional 17 aircraft, which will be finalised in the fiscal year 2019.
The VH-92A aircraft is slated to enter into service in 2020 and will be deployed to transport the US President, Vice-President, and other officials
It will be based on Sikorsky’s Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)-certified S-92A commercial aircraft, which has currently exceeded one million flight hours.
Sikorsky completed the critical design review (CDR) of the VH-92A Presidential Helicopter Replacement Programme in July 2016.
Image: An artist rendering of the VH-92A helicopter. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.