The EH101 is a joint project of Westland Helicopter and Agusta that had its genesis in a late 1970s British Royal Navy requirement for a new anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter. Westland responded to the requirement with a new design, the WG.34. Analysis showed that a requirement by the Italian Navy for an ASW helicopter was very similar and, as a result, in 1980 Westland and Agusta joined forces and formed EH Industries to develop a helicopter to meet the requirements of both navies. Originally, each company had 50 percent in the joint company. However, in 2000, Westland and Agusta merged to become one company. Market research showed this helicopter to have broad application in both the civil and military markets. Westland has the design leadership for the civilian application, Agusta is responsible for the rear-loading military version and both are jointly responsible for the Royal and Italian Navy versions. Since that time, the EH101 has won a number of contracts with various military organizations, including the U.S. Marine Corps, who will use the helicopter as the new Presidential helicopter. Component manufacturing is single sourced; final assembly has established lines in both Italy and the UK.
The EH101 is a heavy three-engine turbine helicopter. Engines from both Rolls-Royce and General Electric are used, depending on the version. The commercial version uses three General Electric CT7-6 engines. These engines are attached to a main transmission that has a 30-minute “run dry” capability. The main rotor has five composite blades. A four-bladed tail rotor provides directional control. The fuselage and tail boom are constructed mostly of aluminum alloy, with composites for complex shapes and rotor head with elastomeric bearings. A retractable tricycle landing gear is used.
The cabin can seat up to 30 using four-abreast airline style seating. Alternatively, the interior can be configured for up to 16 stretchers, or external loads up to 12,000 pounds can be carried.
Design of the EH101 was launched in 1981. The first flight of the prototype took place in 1987. Certification for the EH101-300 and EH101-500 to the standards of FAR 29 with Category A and IFR approval was obtained in 1994. The first delivery to the Royal Navy occurred in 1996. The first delivery to a civil customer occurred in 1998.