Maj. Zach Roycroft and Tony Arrington test pilots from the 413th Flight Test Squadron from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida became the first Air Force pilots to receive a type rating on the AW-139 helicopter in Whippany, July 29.
Test pilots completed the five-week contracted course on the civilian counterpart to the Air Force’s new MH-139 helicopter developed by Boeing in collaboration with Leonardo. The helicopter will replace the Air Force’s aging UH-1N Huey.
“This puts our team one step closer to flight testing the new aircraft when production is completed,” said Maj. Roycroft, 413th Flight Test Squadron MH-139 lead test pilot. “Ultimately, it puts the Air Force one step closer to delivery of a much-needed increase in capability.”
A type rating is a Federal Aviation Administration qualification for a specific aircraft.
As the test pilots were in flight training, 413th FLTS and Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen were completing the maintenance technician course for the same aircraft. Those Airmen are also being trained on the unique systems included in the MH-139 like the hoist and cargo hook.
The knowledge gathered from the training will allow the Airmen to safely operate the aircraft systems, perform effective developmental testing and teach their counterparts, according to Tech. Sgt. Joe Kendall, 413th FLTS special mission aviator.
The Boeing MH-139 leverages more than a decade of service, derived from the AW139 built in Philadelphia, with a fleet of more than 900 aircraft, serving more than 250 customers worldwide, spanning more than 2.1 million flight hours.
The MH-139 delivery marks the first time in recent history the Air Force will receive a rotary wing asset not previously used in another branch of the military.
“Every engineer, pilot and SMA is dedicated to ensure the UH-1N community receives the most capable replacement aircraft to defend our nation’s assets,” Roycroft said.
The Air Force plans to purchase 84 MH-139 helicopters over the next decade. The first aircraft delivery to the 413th FLTS is scheduled for late November.