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MessageSujet: Re: AGUSTA-WESTLAND AW-101 MERLIN   AGUSTA-WESTLAND AW-101 MERLIN - Page 2 EmptyLun 11 Oct 2010, 15:05

les portugais,et avant eux les canadiens et anglais en 2008,se plaignent de la fiabilité des EH-101 Merlin,avec un taux de dispo non satisfaisant,apparement les Puma sont 4 fois moins necessiteux en maintenance
Citation :

Helitech Portugal: Questions linger over Portuguese SAR helicopters

October 06, 2010

Members of the Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa or FAP) have expressed frustration with the availability of the service’s EH101 Merlin SAR helicopters.

At the Helitech exhibition in Portugal on 5-7 October, the FAP prominently displayed one of the 12 EH101 Merlins it has ordered from AgustaWestland in December 2001.

Since the first aircraft arrived, the Merlins have carried out more than 10,000 flight hours and saved the lives of more than 650 people, playing a key role in the country's ability to provide SAR across a vast region of the Atlantic Ocean.

Portugal is second only to Canada in terms of the area it has to provide SAR coverage for, with helicopters based on the mainland at Montijo near the capital, Lisbon, as well as at Porto Santo, 45km north-east of Madeira, and in the Azores.

However, the availability of these aircraft has been a sore subject for FAP commanders. While this has improved with extra support from AgustaWestland's newly-established Portuguese subsidiary and a full in service support (FISS) contract, availability levels are understood to remain below what has been expected.

One pilot told 'This is a new aircraft – we were told when they were purchased they would need four times less maintenance than the Puma, but sometimes they need four times more.'

At the beginning of the week of Helitech, six out of the 12 aircraft were available for flying.

The issues have forced the retention of some of the FAP's SAR Pumas, which marked 40 years of service last October – although it has been suggested these may finally exit service with 752 Squadron by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, both AgustaWestland and Eurocopter are waiting on a Portuguese government decision to replace the increasingly elderly Alouette III helicopters, in service with the FAP for basic training, liaison and other duties, but it could be a waiting game given the reported state of the country's economy and finances.

AgustaWestland believes its AW109 LUH offers the best solution, especially as Portugal has also ordered the NH90. Several other nations, such as New Zealand and Sweden, have ordered the two types together with the LUH configuration of modern avionics and wheeled landing gear proving to be a good training machine for the NH90.

Eurocopter feels its EC635, the military variant of the EC135, could also be the aircraft for the role.

The Portuguese Army had actually ordered nine of the latter for the fire support and medevac role, but cancelled them in 2002 and the aircraft were later delivered to Jordan.

Currently the army does not have any aircraft but has 10 NH90 TTHs on order. The fuselage of the first Portuguese aircraft was unveiled in Italy by AgustaWestland in September with the first aircraft due to arrive in 2012.

As it currently stands, the Portuguese Army has only a handful of pilots trained by the FAP and faces a huge challenge not only in preparing crews in a short space of time, but preparing them to fly an extremely advanced fly-by-wire machine without a modern type with which to train them.

If moving from the Alouette to the Merlin is 'having to learn to fly all over again' then a similar experience is likely with the NH90 as well.

By Tony Osborne, Cascais
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