Boeing begins flight testing UK Chinook Mk4 helicopter with Thales avionics systems

LONDON, 26 Jan. 2011. The Boeing [NYSE: BA] Boeing Defence UK Rotorcraft Support team has begun flight testing the first Chinook Mk4 helicopter for England's Royal air force (RAF) under Project JULIUS. The project will modify 38 Mk2/2A Chinooks into the Mk4/4A configuration and eight Mk3 Chinooks into the Mk5 configuration.

Jan 26th, 2011
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Posted by John McHaleLONDON, 26 Jan. 2011. The Boeing [NYSE: BA] Boeing Defence UK Rotorcraft Support team has begun flight testing the first Chinook Mk4 helicopter for England's Royal air force (RAF) under Project JULIUS. The project will modify 38 Mk2/2A Chinooks into the Mk4/4A configuration and eight Mk3 Chinooks into the Mk5 configuration. "Project JULIUS, as the Mk4 program is known, will modernize the current Royal Air Force Chinook fleet -- essentially giving us new aircraft," says Chris White-Horne, Mk4 project team leader for England's Ministry of Defence. A major part of the modification for both the Mk4/4A and Mk5 aircraft is the Thales TopDeck cockpit. Thales UK is under contract with Boeing to supply its cockpit display system/mission avionics system, which will provide improved situational awareness, increased safety, and options for capability enhancement. The upgraded and integrated cockpit display includes four multifunction displays, two stand-by flight displays, updated communications interfaces, and two new air data computers.

"The first of the modified JULIUS Chinook helicopters is expected to be available to commanders before the end of 2011," says David Pitchforth, managing director, Boeing UK Rotorcraft Support. "The entire Mk2 fleet will be fitted with the JULIUS cockpit by early 2015, followed by Mk2A and Mk3 modifications by 2015 and 2016, respectively."

The modifications also include the addition of a third crew-member seat and an update of airworthiness and safety certification and qualification for the modernized Chinook. The aircraft are being modified at the Gosport Fleetlands facility operated by Vector Aerospace, Boeing's principal subcontractor for deep support of the RAF Chinook fleet. Vector Aerospace has established a dedicated production line at Fleetlands to support the JULIUS program, with specialist component manufacture provided from its Almondbank facility near Perth, Scotland.

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