The second prototype of Turkish Aerospace Industries’ T625 Gökbey made its 45-minute maiden flight on June 29, passing the first domestic certification challenge presented by Turkey’s General Directorate of Civil Aviation.
The twin-engine T625, designed as a multirole utility helicopter for civil and military use, is powered by 1,370shp CTS800 engines from Rolls–Royce/Honeywell [HON] joint venture LHTEC and can carry 12 passengers. TAI said in 2017 it developed the T625 “in response to the growing market demand for higher mission flexibility in this class,” as well as to meet the needs of the Turkish Armed Forces.
“GÖKBEY helicopter, which was developed domestically and nationally by TUSAŞ, carried out its first certification flight with the permission of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation,” Ismail Demir, former Turkish undersecretary for Defense Industry, commented on Twitter, translated to English by Microsoft [MSFT]. “The flight lasted 45 minutes and a significant phase was passed in the project. I congratulate everyone who contributed.”
Gökbey’s development — Turkey’s first attempt at domestically designing and producing an advanced twin-engine helicopter — began with a contract between the Turkish government and Turkish Aerospace five years ago. The project is part of a wider effort championed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to expand the capacity and locality of Turkish defense production. Gökbey is intended to serve as a potential replacement for the Bell [TXT] UH-1 in the Turkish Armed Forces.
“We will not stop until Turkey can develop and produce all the strategic needs of the defense industry,” Erdoğan stressed last year during the Gökbey’s naming ceremony.
The first prototype of the Gökbey, which can be translated as “Mr. Sky” or “Skymaster,” took flight in September 2018 after being unveiled at the 2017 Paris Air Show. After completing its certification process with Turkey’s aviation agency and the European Aviation Safety Agency, mass production of the aircraft is expected to begin in 2021. Plans are to replace its LHTEC engines with domestic alternatives in the future.
Gökbey’s missions will include transportation, VIP, cargo, air ambulance, search and rescue and offshore transit.