VHA Conducts Successful First Flight of Composite MD 500 Main Rotor Blades

On Thursday, April 7, VHA successfully completed a series of ground and flight tests of its composite MD 500 main rotor blades during a four-hour test session at the MD Helicopters Inc. (MDHI) facility in Mesa, Arizona aboard a MD 530F®test aircraft.

Experimental test pilot Greg Ashe and VHA president James R. Van Horn conduct the first hover test of the VHA MD 500 composite main rotor bladesat the MD Helicopters Inc. facility in Mesa, Ariz., on April 7, 2011.

Greg Ashe, a retired Boeing experimental test pilot who served as the project test pilot on the Hughes 369F model and has more than 800 experimental flight test hours in the MD 500 series, performed all of the ground and flight tests with assistance from VHA and MDHI ground crew.  The test session had three distinct parts:  track and balance of the VHA blades, hover tests, and low-speed forward flight.

“We are thrilled that the composite blades performed well enough in initial ground and hover tests to take the aircraft into low-speed forward flight on the blade’s first flight test,” said Van Horn, a former U.S. Army instructor pilot who served as flight test engineer on the VHA MD 500 test session. “Our blades are very stable, even through transitional flight.”

Click here to see a video of this test flight.