Nuri Upgrade Update

SHAH ALAM: IT appears that the Nuri upgrade program has started based on the press release posted at the bottom of this post. The first helicopter to undergo the modification is expected to be displayed at LIMA 17, so it is likely work on the example has started or starting soon.

The work on the first Nuri will be done by Airod together with Heli-One, a Canadian based helicopter MRO at its facilities at Subang while the avionics will be supplied by Universal Avionics, a company from Arizona, US.

The modification involved the installation of new cockpit displays including a new flight management system and a search radar.

RMAF Nuri S61A4 M23-36 at the fly-past rehearsal on Feb 26, 2016. The 36 is the only Nuri which has undergone the digital cockpit upgrade.
RMAF Nuri S61A4 M23-36 at the fly-past rehearsal on Feb 26, 2016. The 36 is the only Nuri which has undergone the digital cockpit upgrade.

To recap, National Defence Aerospace Industries Sdn Bhd (NADI), the parent company of Airod, was awarded a letter of instruction for proof of concept for the avionics upgrade programme for Nuri helicopters at the DSA 2016 in April.

Following the award, Airod signed a contract with Heli-One, one of the largest independent MRO for helicopters. According to the release issued after the signing ceremony between the two companies, the upgrades will allow the Nuri to fly for another 15 years.

The upgrade will add new tactical capabilities and allow for standardisation of aircraft systems across the fleet. It will enable the aircraft to fly in day and night under all weather conditions as well as addressing obsolescence issues, subsequently, allowing the RMAF S61A-4 NURI helicopter to expand its life-span for at least another 15 years.

Rockwell Collins Pro-line cockpit install on a S-61. This was the solution chosen for the M23-36,
Rockwell Collins Pro-line cockpit install on a S-61. This was the solution chosen for the M23-36,

I was told last June that the work to upgrade the Nuri will start before year end after RMAF had agreed to the scope of work to be done. So the announcement of the avionics solution, got nothing to do with the recent emergency landing of M23-33 on a school near Tawau recently.

A PUTD Nuri helicopter carrying an Oto Melara 105mm pack howitzer for the firing exercise.
A PUTD Nuri helicopter carrying an Oto Melara 105mm pack howitzer for the 2016 army firing exercise.

The release below is basically the confirmation of the start of the programme though it conveniently left out Malaysia as the operator of the Nuri helicopter.

The release:

TUCSON, Ariz, OCT 11: Universal Avionics and Heli-One are announcing cockpit upgrades to be performed on a fleet of Sikorsky S-61A-4 NURI helicopters for an Asian operator, featuring Universal’s EFI-890H Advanced Flight Displays and Multi-Missions Management System (MMMS). Universal Avionics Authorized Dealer, Heli-One, is set to perform the design and installation for the initial aircraft with an Asian Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) organization performing the upgrades for the remainder of the fleet.

The S-61 upgrade includes four EFI-890H Advanced Flight Displays and a single UNS-1Lw MMMS, Universal’s Flight Management System (FMS) for mission support. The displays and MMMS integrate with new dual LCR-100 Attitude Heading Reference System sensors, dual Thommen AC-32 Air Data Computers, dual Rockwell Collins NAV-4000s, DF-938 Direction Finder, a single DME-4000 and a new EuroAvionics EuroNav 7 Mission Computer. In addition, a new RDR-1600 Search Radar is being fitted and will be displayed on the EFI-890H Multi-Function Displays. The displays are Night Vision Goggle-compatible and also integrate with the existing AN/APN-209 Radar Altimeters and GE SN-502 Autopilot.

One of the displays to be install on the Nuri by Heli-One.
One of the displays to be install on the Nuri by Heli-One.

“This program is the latest in our ongoing partnership with Heli-One,” said Grady Dees, Universal Avionics Director of Technical Sales. “Heli-One has proven its expertise in complex integrations throughout our relationship and in leveraging the integration flexibility of the EFI-890H and FMS/MMMS. Together, we will be able to offer the best solution yet for modernization of the avionics in the S-61 platform. Future enhancements to provide additional functionality are already in planning at Universal Avionics.”

“Universal Avionics has been a key partner in our recent success with our flight deck upgrade initiatives,” said Anthony DiNota, President, Heli-One. “The collaborative work between Heli-One and Universal has yielded terrific results for customers. Our solutions-focused, customer-based approach allows us to provide tailored programs that expand operational capability and add value to their aircraft.”

The new and modernized flight deck enables the aircraft to fly in all weather conditions and both day and night, by leveraging new functionality including Night Vision Imaging System operations. The MMMS provides a significant improvement in search and rescue operations with the built-in search patterns and will be coupled with the GE SN-502 Autopilot. In addition, the upgrade allows for significant extension of the aircrafts’ lifespans. The design and first aircraft installation for the S-61 is expected to be completed in time for the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition in March 2017.

One of the digital camoed Nuri handed over to the Army at LIMA 15.
One of the digital camoed Nuri handed over to the Army at LIMA 15.

For those who had forgotten about it, a single RMAF Nuri had already been upgraded with a similar modifications several years back. The project went cold after work on the aircraft was completed however.

Nuri M23-18 of 7th Squadron on TDY at Tawau.
Nuri M23-18 of 7th Squadron on TDY at Tawau.

Apparently, Airod had difficulties working with the company selected by RMAF for the project, another Canadian based helicopter MRO, Vector Aerospace. The relationship between Airod and Vector became untenable after the latter was acquired by Eurocopter in 2011.

As for the sole Nuri fitted with the digital cockpit, M23-36, its now at Subang airbase most likely undergoing repairs. The helicopter had a hard landing on Aug. 13 at Bukit Beruntung, Selangor, after it lost power while taking off from a field at the police training centre there.

Nuri M23-15 landing at Jugra on Nov 11, 2013. The aircraft was written off after a crash at Pulau Perak on Dec. 22. 2013.
Nuri M23-15 landing at Jugra on Nov 11, 2013. The aircraft was written off after a crash at Pulau Perak on Dec. 22. 2013.

Its left landing gear, buckled up as the helicopter landed back on the field. All of the crew members survived without injuries.

* edited. The earlier version of this post stated that the upgrade work will be done in Norway. This is wrong, the work will be done at the Airod hangar at Subang airbase.

— Malaysian Defence

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