News: RAF’s Newest Helicopter

Published 16 March 2017, 17:19

Agusta Westland AW109SP GZ100 being put through its paces on Salisbury Plain on February 17. The aircraft has been provided under contract by Sloane Helicopters of Sywell, Northampton. Phil Stevens

The RAF’s 32 (The Royal) Sqn took delivery of a new Agusta Westland AW109SP GrandNew helicopter in early February.

The AW109SP is an evolution of the AW109E helicopter that it will replace on 32 Sqn and possesses more powerful engines, enhanced avionics and a suite of safety enhancements.

The unit’s commander Wg Cdr Steve Courtnadge said: “As 32 Squadron enters its second century of operations, the AW109SP will be a vital element in our operational output. The aircraft is already a firm favourite with the pilots that will operate it and our passengers who benefit from the enhanced performance. This helicopter will provide a highly efficient, point-to-point military transport service that will truly complement our multi-engine aircraft.”

The new helicopter wears 32 Sqn’s pedigree and heritage on its sleeve. Both the civilian registration (G-ZIOO) it wore for test flying and the military registration it has subsequently transferred to (GZ100) reflect the GZ unit codes worn by the unit’s Hawker Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain. Flying from RAF Biggin Hill, the squadron scored 102 victories over a seven-week period in the summer of 1940. The use of ‘100’ in the new registration refers to the squadron’s centenary, which was celebrated on January 12, 2016.

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