The first “scratch-built” Enstrom helicopter since new company ownership has flown. “This aircraft wasn’t an unfinished left-over airframe,” said Enstrom, “but was built using components procured, machined, fabricated, and assembled onsite.”
A new-build Rolls-Royce 250 C20w turboshaft-powered Enstrom 480B took to the skies just eight months after musical-equipment mogul (and Enstrom helicopter owner) Chuck Surack’s Surack Enterprises bought the Menominee, Michigan-based manufacturer following bankruptcy. Founded in 1957 by Rudy Enstrom, the company has now produced 1,317 helicopters—255 of them being the popular 480-series rotorcraft.
Chief operating officer Adam Richardson said, “This was a critical milestone in our plan to not just bring back Enstrom, but to start to reinvent ourselves and the way we operate. It took all functions to focus on the objective. New supplier relationships, new machinists and fabricators and luckily many from prior years, better print definitions, a high standard of workmanship, and everyone onsite helping each other cross-functionally to bring us back online.”
Production test pilot Cody Parkovich said, “It flew great. No issues. We were able to complete all our flight test steps on schedule. The team did a great job putting this helicopter together.” Following up on Surack’s promise to have a new-build helicopter at this year’s Helicopter Association International (HAI) HeliExpo trade show in Atlanta, Georgia (March 6-9), the new helicopter will be on hand at Booth C2820. Enstrom says it will then use the aircraft “to certify new upgrades and planned future improvements.”
Glad to hear that Enstrom is back.