Ship/helicopter qualification testing for a non-naval helicopter

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Ragaglini, S.
Ciotola, A.
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In 2015, for the first time, the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (RSV - Italian official flight test center) has been asked to conduct a limited scope evaluation of a land-based attack helicopter, the Leonardo A129D, for shipboard operations. Requirements from Italian armed forces imposed to reach this capability without the introduction of any modification to both the helicopter and the ships and relying to a limited instrumentation package. A short description of the qualification process used and of performance requirements considered is presented. Then, after an assessment of helicopter characteristics that could affect shipboard operation, a description of the test method used is provided. Structures, helicopter-ship dynamic interference, electromagnetic compatibility and operational tests and evaluations performed are finally presented. Key factors in reducing flight hours dedicated to ship operations where the use of STANAG 1380 Ed. 5 to limit EMC, HERO and HIRF testing and the adoption of a build-up approach in dynamic interference testing. Land based critical azimuth testing was performed at the target referred weight to define a reasonable Candidate Flight Envelope that has been then validated during. This paper in intended to provide to flight test engineers and program managers guidelines about the test method used by RSV to achieve the operational need expressed by Italian armed forces in the shortest, safest and more efficient way as possible.