AgustaWestland Completes BERP IV Flight Testing

November 27, 2007
php2magwNov. 27, 2007, Somerset, UK - AgustaWestland has successfully completed the qualification flight testing of the new generation BERP IV AW101 main rotor blades. The new technology blades will enter operational service in early 2008 on the UK's Royal Air Force fleet of AW101 Merlin Mk.3A helicopters.

The BERP IV program commenced in 2000 with a technology selection and integration phase leading to the design and manufacturing phase in 2002. The blades first flew in September 2006 and have now completed a 13 month flight test programme during which the AW101 was flown at speeds up to 198 knots and at altitudes of 13,000 ft. Aircraft fitted with BERP IV blades have also been flown at weights up to 16,500 kg - 1,900 kg over the normal Merlin gross weight and 900 kg over the current AW101 maximum gross weight.


The BERP IV main rotor blades have now been productionised and manufactured by AgustaWestland within six months of a contract award by the MoD to support an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) for increased hot and high lift capability on the AW101 Merlin Mk 3A helicopters. The blades can also be directly retrofitted to other AW101 variants as a direct replacement for the existing blades.

Graham Cole, Managing Director - Business at AgustaWestland said “The BERP IV rotor blades deliver significant capability improvements for the AW101 which the Royal Air Force and other customers will greatly appreciate. The speed at which we have evolved the BERP IV blade technology is a credit to the joint Ministry of Defence and AgustaWestland team."

BERP IV blades represent the next generation of rotor technology developed under a jointly funded AgustaWestland and UK Ministry of Defence rotor technology development and demonstration programme. The blades incorporate an improved planform, new aerofoil sections and an advanced aeroelastically tailored structure to provide reduced vibration, 10 knots additional cruise speed and 650 kg additional lift capability over the standard AW101 Merlin main rotor blades. AgustaWestland test pilot Dick Trueman said “The harder these blades work the better they perform; they give the AW101 a very useful improvement in lift capability. The already smooth AW101 is even smoother with these blades - vibration levels were so low we often had to check the active vibration control system on the AW101 was switched off during testing!”

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