NLR recently concluded a fatigue test programme on the tail section of the NH90 helicopter.

The test programme demonstrated that the construction, developed by Fokker Aerostructures, is capable of supporting an anticipated 24,000 flights and 10,000 flight hours. Moreover, the construction proved to be satisfactorily robust for supporting loads when in a damaged state (for example due to the impact of hail or tools dropped during maintenance operations).

The test programme began in 2003. Since the exact details of the flight loads were not known at that time, the first phase served to obtain the so-called Initial Operational Clearance, which involved the use of a preliminary load spectrum. Concurrently, during a series of flight tests involving a prototype of the NH90 (the PT-3) and the first production helicopters (Germany’s TGEA01, Italy’s HITN01 and France’s NFRS01), the actual load spectrum that will occur during flight was measured. NLR also played a key role in these flight test measurements.

After processing of the flight data, the final load spectrum was developed; this spectrum was used in the Final Operational Clearance test phase which was succesfully concluded in October 2011. With NLR now having delivered the most recent test results, Fokker no longer faces any obstacles for final certification of the NH90 tail section.