Lynx World Speed Record Helicopter Restored After 25 Years


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Lynx World Speed Record Helicopter Restored After 25 Years

By Bill Goldston

July 10, 2011 - After a four year restoration by a team of AgustaWestland apprentices, the record breaking Westland Lynx helicopter, which is still the official holder of the helicopter World Speed Record, was unveiled on Thursday by AgustaWestland’s CEO Bruno Spagnolini and the apprentices at AgustaWestland’s factory in Yeovil, England.

“To have held the world helicopter speed record for 25 years highlights what an outstanding achievement it was by all those involved in the project and the development of the rotor blade technology that was key to the successful record attempt.

"The apprentices are to be also congratulated on performing an excellent restoration of this historically important helicopter, it is their skills and knowledge that will help keep AgustaWestland at the very forefront of rotorcraft technology for the next 25 years,” said Spagnolini.

The Westland Lynx is a British multi-purpose military helicopter designed and built by Westland Helicopters at its factory in Yeovil. Originally intended as a utility craft for both civil and naval usage, military interest led to the development of both battlefield and naval variants.

The Lynx went into operational usage in 1977 and was later adopted by the armed forces of over a dozen nations, primarily serving in the battlefield utility, anti-armour, search and rescue and anti-submarine warfare roles. In 1986 a specially modified Lynx set the current Fédération Aéronautique International’s official airspeed record for helicopters. The helicopter is now produced and marketed by AgustaWestland. 

Following its World Record breaking flight in 1986 the aircraft went on to become the test bed for CTS800-4N engines and was heavily modified before finally being retired from development flying in 1991. In January 1995 the helicopter was donated to the Helicopter Museum where it was preserved and put on public display, then in 2007 AgustaWestland agreed to undertake the restoration of the aircraft back to its World Speed Record configuration. 

The aircraft returned to Yeovil, where it was originally built, and the team of apprentices set about the major task of restoring the aircraft to as close a condition as possible to that on its record breaking flight.


The team of AgustaWestland apprentices have spent over 25,000 hours researching the configuration of the aircraft, de-modifying the aircraft, locating the original parts wherever possible, sourcing missing parts, rebuilding the aircraft and finally repainting it in its distinctive world speed record colors with all the logos of those companies that assisted the original project.

The Lynx helicopter, registered G-LYNX, flew a 15km course across the Somerset Levels at 500 ft on a calm hazy evening back in 1986 with Chief Test Pilot Trevor Egginton at the controls and Derek Clews, Flight Test Engineer alongside. The average speed achieved over two runs was 249.1 mph (400.87 kph), beating the record held by a modified Mil “Hind” helicopter by over 20 mph (32 kph). 

The initial design (then known as the Westland WG.13) was started in the mid-1960s as a replacement for the Westland Scout and Wasp, and a more advanced alternative to the UH-1 Iroquois. As part of the Anglo-French helicopter agreement signed in February 1967, the French company Aérospatiale were given a work share in the manufacturing program.  

Aérospatiale received 30% of production with Westland performing the remainder. It was intended that France would buy Lynxes for its Navy and as an armed reconnaissance helicopter for the French Army, with the United Kingdom in return buying Aérospatiale Gazelles and Pumas for its armed forces. The French Army cancelled its requirement for Lynxes in October 1969.

The original Lynx design was powered by two Rolls-Royce Gem 2 turboshaft engines, and used many components derived from the Scout and Wasp. However, the rotor was new, being of a semi-rigid design with honeycomb sandwich blades. The first Lynx prototype took its maiden flight on 21 March 1971.

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