On 11 August 1986, the G-LYNX – flown by Leonardo (then Westland) test pilot Trevor Egginton – achieved an average speed of 400.87 km/h over a fixed 15 km course over the Somerset Levels. That aircraft, which was restored by Leonardo apprentices in 2016, now resides at the Helicopter Museum in Weston-Super-Mare.
“This new restoration project was conceived when we visited one of Leonardo’s plants in Vergiate, Italy, where they had recently installed a ‘gate guardian’. Upon returning to Yeovil, we pitched the idea to senior management and the project was born!” explains Michael Lowde, who was one of the project team leads.
Having initiated the project in October 2017, the restoration – undertaken and completed by a team of Craft and Degree apprentices – began in November 2019.
The project used an Mk 7 Lynx originally built at the Yeovil site in 1987 and delivered to the Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS) at Boscombe Down in 1988. It served for 25 years with the ETPS before its final flight in March 2012.
Extensive work was required to make the airframe suitable for outside display, which included sealing all inlets and intakes, and creating custom fairings. Furthermore, the aircraft was missing some key components such as rotor blades, rotor heads and gearboxes, so a large amount of project time was spent hunting these parts down.
The airframe was painted in December 2020 and installed in early August 2021, to mark the 35th world speed record anniversary.
Josh Hughes, who was also a project team lead, adds: “Having gained the senior management’s support and sourced an airframe, the trainee-led project gathered pace, with apprentices working to restore the Lynx, ready for display. The project’s success relied upon a collaborative effort between trainees and the wider business, whose expertise were invaluable.”
Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters (UK), says: “The restored Lynx is a magnificent addition to the Yeovil site and reflects the pride and excellent of our helicopter workforce. I was incredibly impressed by the vision, skills and commitment of the trainees who delivered this project, and I hope their dedication and the final result will inspire their peers, future trainees and anyone visiting our site.”