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Leonardo celebrates 35th anniversary of setting world speed record


August 11, 2021
By Naomi Szeben


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Image courtesy of Leonardo Helicopters

Leonardo celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Lynx helicopter’s world speed record over the Somerset skyline in England, on August 11.

On this day in August 1986, a Westland Lynx flew a 15 km course across the Somerset Levels. The aircraft achieved an average speed of 400.87 km/h (249.10 mph), which made it the world’s fastest helicopter, setting two Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI – World’s Air Sport Federation) official records. The crew was comprised of Trevor Egginton, the Pilot, and Derek Clews, the Flight Test Engineer.

The Lynx helicopter, which achieved the record, is commonly referred to as G-Lynx, in relation to its civil registration. At the time, the aircraft underwent a short modification programme to make it capable of high speeds, yet it retained the basic airframe, rotor and transmission system of the standard Lynx. The Lynx featured new technologies, including the British Experimental Rotor Programme (BERP) blades, which made it possible to increase maximum speed and enhance lifting capabilities and the blades were later adopted for all Lynx and Super Lynx variants and for the AW101 helicopters.

The BERP blades were developed by Westland at that time and, thanks to their shape and geometry, allowed the G-Lynx to exceed the existing helicopter world speed record of 198 kt (367 km/h).

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The G-Lynx received the Heritage Engineering Award in 2014. The award was established in 1984 by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) 1984 to recognise pioneering engineering artefacts, locations, collections and landmarks. Among some of the most prestigious recipients are: the Tower Bridge in London, the Jaguar E-type and the Concorde.