MESA, Ariz., April 4 (UPI) -- A new single-engine scout helicopter is being built by MD Helicopters Inc. of Arizona and is expected to receive certification next year.
The aircraft, for military and commercial markets, is designated the MD 540F. It is an upgrade of the company's MD 530F, which was certified in 1985. The MD 540F will have a 6-bladed, fully articulated rotor blade system made up entirely of composite material, in addition to a more rugged landing skid built for heavier takeoff and landing weights.
"This aircraft will be a game changer for our company," said MDHI Chief Executive Officer Lynn Tilton. "The commercial and military markets have long sought an affordable, light, single-engine helicopter that can perform exceptionally well at hot and high altitudes while carrying a larger useful load. The MD 540F will be that aircraft.
"Our engineers have bolstered performance to achieve a dramatic increase in max gross take-off weight and useful load capability. This increase will allow the MD 540F to carry a full avionics and weapons package while hovering at 6,000 feet/95°F."
MDHI said the new helicopter will feature a fully integrated, digital glass cockpit, with multifunction color displays and a helmet display and tracking system. The armed version of the aircraft will have rockets, guns and Hellfire missiles.
"The 540F will be a lethal fighting machine," said Tilton. "The 540F will carry much of the same punch as the heavier attack helicopters at a fraction of the acquisition expense and life cycle operation costs."