First Portuguese EH101s arrive in Portugal
12 Feb 2005
On 11 February 2005, two new Portuguese EH101 Merlin helicopters landed in Portugal for the first time, since the official hand-over of the first aircraft of the type last December. The two helicopters wearing serials 19602 and 19603 were flown to Montjio Air Base, where the Portuguese EH101 fleet will be based. To celebrate the arrival, a formation fly-by was organized with a Puma and Alouette III joining the Merlin.
The two EH101 SAR versions are part of a 12-aircraft order which was placed in December 2003. The first Merlin destined for Portugal (16901) finished acceptance tests of the SAR version on 16 December 2004 but remained in Italy for aircrew training. On 22 December 2004 the first Merlin was officially delivered by AgustaWestland during a ceremony in Italy with Portuguese government officials present. (see also First EH101 Merlin delivered to Portugal) By then, 19602 made its first flight and started training new aircrew.
Report by Jorge Ruivo