- Associated Press - Monday, February 16, 2015

FORSYTH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The U.S. Army and an Italian aerospace and military company are planning to carry out three months of winter icing testing for a commercial helicopter at Sawyer International Airport in northern Michigan’s central Upper Peninsula.

The Army’s Redstone Test Center’s Aviation Flight Test directorate near Huntsville, Alabama, has sent a team to Sawyer to ice test the twin-engine AW189 helicopter. The group is working with an Italian flight operations team for AgustaWestland, maker of the twin-engine AW189 helicopter.

AgustaWestland is a subsidiary of the Rome-based Finmeccanica S.p.A.

The airport is at the site of the former K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Marquette County’s Forsyth Township, south of Marquette.

Preliminary test trials were conducted last year in Duluth, Minnesota, AgustaWestland spokeswoman Lauren Slepian told The Mining Journal of Marquette (https://bit.ly/17i3ANd ). She said the icing trials allow the gathering of a large amount of data on the helicopter’s performance.

Slepian said the goal of the testing program is to get Federal Aviation Administration certification of the helicopter’s ice protection system.

According to AgustaWestland, the AW189 weighs 18,298 pounds and is suited for passenger transport, offshore oil and gas exploration projects, search and rescue, corporate travel, and law enforcement and homeland security purposes.

The Army has expertise in simulating icing conditions with a modified CH-47D Chinook helicopter that is equipped with an icing spray system, Slepian said. The sprayed water creates an icing cloud that the AW189 flies through, and crew members then note the effects of the ice formed on the helicopter.

In recent days, the winter conditions have been a bit too wintry, with blustery snowfalls and temperatures dropping well below zero, said airport Manager Duane DuRay.

“The weather has not been favorable for what they need to do,” DuRay said. “As soon as the weather cooperates, they’re going to do their testing. … Once they start testing, I think they’re going to go out every day.”


Information from: The Mining Journal, https://www.miningjournal.net

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