Published on: 3rd June 2014

Universal Wiring Systems today (<DATE>) announced that it had delivered 750 miles of electrical harnessing to complete the wiring phase of AgustaWestland’s Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme (MCSP). The company has provided harnesses for 30 Merlin Mk2 helicopters, each comprising 25 miles (41km) of wiring, which completes the MCSP deliverables.

Awarded in 2005, the programme upgrades 30 of the current Merlin Mk1 fleet to a Mk2 variant and brings a significant advance in technology. It is a truly 21st century helicopter with its inherent role flexibility, which is so important in terms of threats to the nation.

The aircraft is completely re-wired to comply with the latest standards for safety.  In all some design and development effort of over a million engineering man hours has gone into MCSP project both at AW and within the supply base, which is a huge investment in European defense capability.

With respect to role flexibility, the Merlin Mk2 retains all the secondary roles of the Mk1 including 10,000 lb under slung load capability, troop transport and casualty evacuation and a new capability with the introduction of a half inch gun for self protection.

Importantly, role change times are significantly improved by the modularity of the mission console and relocation of radar system components under the floor.

The electrical harness supply was identified at the outset as a significant risk area for the programme, due to the need for the removal of the entire electrical wiring system from the aircraft and replacement with new.

The Universal/AgustaWestland partnership successfully mitigated this risk. The flexible approach of both companies ensured the highest build configuration standard was delivered which minimised the amount of change needed and thereby minimised cost.

Universal Wiring Systems started in the aerospace market by manufacturing cable assemblies for AgustaWestland 15 years ago. The company has since grown from providing capacity on an offload basis to being a full capability electrical wiring harness manufacturing facility with laser wire marking, machine braiding and automatic test equipment.

Now in service, the Merlin Mk2 and its crews are training and preparing to deploy this summer in its primary role. Thirteen Mk2 Merlin’s are currently operational at RNAS Culdrose.

Scott Ewens, UK Merlin Programme Manager, said: “The partnership approach between Universal and Agusta Westland has ensured that MCSP has been a highly successful programme, delivered on time and on budget. Each set of helicopter looms have been supplied to the agreed schedule and to the demanding quality standards required by the aerospace industry.

“It was pleasing to see that in 2013 both companies were awarded SC21 Bronze award. The improvements implemented in both organisations have directly contributed to the success of MCSP and provide the two companies with the opportunity to take all the learning into potential collaborations in the future.”

Andy Routledge, operations manager of Universal Wiring Systems, said: “By working in close partnership with the AgustaWestland team we have delivered this multi-million £ programme on time and on budget. This was a fantastic project to work on and all credit goes to the staff of both companies who operated as a single team.”

Universal Engineering also has extensive experience delivering high quality and often safety-critical parts to the aerospace industry. It has a long-established manufacturing facility in Weymouth, which is certified to AS EN 9100 and uses both 3 and 5-axis CNC machining centres as well as extensive design modelling capability through Catia software  

A wide range of materials can be milled from Aluminium alloys to exotic materials, a well-managed quality system ensures all parts and assemblies are produced to the highest exacting standards. All components are CMM inspected prior to release to our customers.