MARIGNANE, France, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Modernization of Brazilian Army's AS365 K Panther helicopters is to continue following the first aircraft passing technical-operational evaluation.
Airbus Helicopters said the first Panther upgraded by its Brazilian subsidiary Helibras demonstrated 98 percent availability in the evaluation phase.
The phase included performance of about 150 different missions and hundreds of flight hours.
"These test flights allowed the Brazilian Army to prove the operational gains of the K2 helicopter compared to the previous version, such as reduced pilot workload, reduced transfer time, greater autonomy and increased safety for crews," said Marco Wagner, manager of the Panther modernization program at Helibras.
Helibras is upgrading a total of 34 AS365 K Panther helicopters to the K2 Super Panther version, which features more powerful engines, new avionics and radio-communication systems, and night vision technology.
Most of the new equipment and systems for the upgrade were supplied by Brazilian companies, Airbus Helicopters said.
Two of the modernized aircraft are being delivered to the Brazilian Army this year. Four will follow in 2015, with the remainder being delivered a rate of six per year thereafter.
"The modernization program will continue according to schedule as the test results showed the Super Panther to meet all of the contract's requirements," Airbus Helicopters said.
The upgrade program will be completed by 2021, with two helicopters being delivered this year, four helicopters in 2015, and then six per year until all 34 are finished.
The K2 version features more powerful engines, new avionics and radio-communication systems, and night vision technology.