The Boeing Co. said it has started flights of the structures-test aircraft of the next-generation AH-64D Apache attack helicopter.
Called the Block III Apache, the aircraft completed its first test flight from the company’s Mesa flight line on Nov. 23, and further flights are expected to continue for several more weeks, the company said.
Among the new technologies being tested are the composite main rotor blade and other composite parts, new transmission and new engines with enhanced electronic control, the company said.
Avionics testing of the new Apache, including its ability to control drone aircraft, took place in June at Yuma.
The flights are part of a test program that is expected to lead to a decision in April 2010 by the U.S. Army on whether to begin full production of the Block III machines. First deliveries of the aircraft from Boeing’s Mesa plant to the Army are expected in mid-2011 if the production decision is approved.