Tag Archives: Airbus Helicopters

Gendarmerie Nationale

The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed a contract, on behalf of the Ministry of Interior, for the procurement and maintenance of 10 H160s in a law enforcement configuration for the Gendarmerie Nationale. Linked to the contract for the procurement of 169 H160Ms for the French Ministry of Armed Forces, this order is part of the Stimulus plan to support the national aeronautical industry announced by the French government in 2020.

H160
France becomes first H160 law enforcement customer

«The French Ministry of Interior contract is an important milestone for the H160. We now have customers for the offshore transportation, private and business aviation, search and rescue and law enforcement mission segments, showing that the H160 is a truly versatile aircraft», said Bruno Even, CEO Airbus Helicopters. «Developing this new configuration for the H160 in cooperation with an experienced customer like the Gendarmerie Nationale is key to the success of the programme».

France is the first country to order the H160 for law enforcement missions. The H160s for the Gendarmerie Nationale will be equipped with a Safran Euroflir 410 electro-optical system, winching, and fast roping capabilities. The air force command centre of the Gendarmerie Nationale and Airbus Helicopters are also working closely together to develop a tailored mission management system.

The French Gendarmerie Nationale already operates a wide fleet of Airbus helicopters from the H125, H135 and H145 families. On top of its improved performances and advanced mission systems, the H160 will bring a new troop transport capability for the French Ministry of Interior’s security forces, mainly tactical units, such as the Gendarmerie Nationale’s Intervention Group (GIGN). The first H160s will be delivered before the Olympic Games that will take place in Paris in 2024.

The first of a new generation of helicopter, the EASA-certified H160 benefits from a low cost of operations and optimized flight safety. With its light maintenance plan aligned between engine and aircraft, the H160 optimizes operating costs and offers a new standard in availability. The Gendarmerie’s H160s will benefit from a global support contract to be managed by Airbus Helicopters including technical support, spare parts stocks on four Gendarmerie bases, and connected services.

To support the industry

The Spanish Ministries of Defence and Interior have ordered 36 Airbus H135 helicopters. This signature takes place in the context of the stimulus plan activated by the Spanish government to support the industry. The Ministry of Defence will receive 18 helicopters to be operated by the air force and the navy while the Ministry of Interior will also take delivery of 18 helicopters to be operated by the National Police and the Guardia Civil. The deliveries will start next year.

Airbus H135
Spanish Ministries of Defence and Interior sign for 36 H135s тo be operated by Spain’s Air Force, Navy, National Police, and the Guardia Civil

The Spanish Army already operates a fleet of 16 H135 helicopters. With this acquisition, these will be the Spanish Air Force’s first H135s and the Spanish Navy’s first Airbus Helicopters product. As was the case for the H135s acquired some time ago by the army, the new aircraft for the air force and navy will replace older helicopter models currently used for advanced pilot training. The standardisation of training fleets across the three armed forces will create synergies and lead to the implementation of new and more efficient training and support activities.

«Together with the NH90, the H135 will be present in all branches of the Spanish armed forces, as an example of harmonisation and the search for synergies in training and maintenance, as stipulated by our Helicopter Master Plan», said Admiral Santiago González at Dirección General de Armamento y Material (DGAM). «This collaboration between the Ministries of the Interior and Defence is an important milestone in the rationalisation of programmes by the Spanish Government».

The Ministry of Interior currently has a fleet of 31 helicopters from the H135 family in operation with the National Police, the Guardia Civil, and Tráfico. The new helicopters will enable the Policía and Guardia Civil to replace the BO105 helicopters in a wide range of missions including law enforcement, surveillance, and rescue activities.

«We are pleased to sign the largest H135 contract in the history of this programme in Spain, a key partner and one of the largest H135 operators worldwide. I take this opportunity to welcome the Spanish Navy and the Spanish Air Force as new users of this model», said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. «The H135’s performance, versatility, and flight readiness have been particularly appreciated by Spanish operators».

Airbus’ light, twin-engine H135 is equipped with the most advanced technologies available, including Airbus Helicopters’ own Helionix avionics suite. There are about 1,350 H135 helicopters operated by 300 operators in 64 countries. The fleet has accumulated 6 million flight hours.

French Guépard

The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters for the development and procurement of the H160M in the frame of the Light Joint Helicopter programme (HIL). The contract includes the development of several prototypes and the delivery of a first batch of 30 aircraft (21 for the army, 8 for the navy and one for the air force). The French Ministry for the Armed Forces plans to order a total of 169 H160M helicopters, or Guépard as it will be known in the French armed forces. Deliveries will start in 2027 beginning with the French Army.

H160M Guepard
France orders the H160M for its Joint Light Helicopter programme

«The Guépard is the result of ten years of close cooperation with the DGA and the French armed forces», said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. «The H160M will bring new capabilities to the armed forces as it is adapted to modern warfare thanks to its increased connectivity, maneuverability, low acoustic footprint, and a fully integrated support system. Having the French armed forces, a world reference, as our launch customer for the H160M is extremely valuable».

The first of a new generation of helicopters, the H160M is derived from the EASA-certified H160. It benefits from a low cost of operations and optimised flight safety. The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force. To ensure a high level of availability while reducing operating costs, the H160M’s support and services needs were taken into account from early in its design phase. Innovative and simplified, the H160M’s support is based on the exploitation of data through analytics.

Airbus Helicopters will guarantee a high level of availability through an innovative maintenance contract. Airbus Helicopters commits to an innovative management of maintenance and aircraft availability through a dedicated organization that has proven to be successful. This organization was introduced with the global support contract signed in 2020 for the French Cougar and Caracal fleet and has led to a significant increase in aircraft availability.

Trials conducted in the Moroccan desert in July 2021 demonstrated the efficiency of the H160’s inlet barrier filtration system in protecting the Safran Arrano engines against sand ingestion. The tests in the desert also demonstrated the efficiency of the automatic flight control system during the takeoff and landing operations with limited visibility due to sand clouds. The H160M will be ready to operate in the roughest conditions.

The military version of the H160 will be more discreet than previous helicopters with a reduced acoustic signature made possible by the Blue Edge blades. The H160’s stability, maneuverability, and an automatic flight control system will be key assets for the military version. The H160M will be equipped with Airbus Helicopters’ HForce weapon system, a modular and incremental solution enabling the use of a large choice of weapons. Equipment will also include a hoist and a fast roping arm.

The H160M Guépard will be equipped with the Safran Euroflir 410 electro-optical system, the Thales FlytX cockpit avionics suite, and AirMaster C radar. The pilots will be able to use the Thales TopOwl Helmet-mounted Sight & Display. The Guépard will also carry a self-protection suite, a satellite communication system and tactical data link system. The weapon package will include the MBDA ANL anti-ship missile, pod mounted and door mounted guns.

H225M in naval configuration

Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first H225M in naval combat configuration to the Brazilian Navy. Stationed at the naval base in São Pedro d’Aldeia, the aircraft will boost the Brazilian Navy’s mission capabilities including anti-surface warfare and maritime surveillance.

H225M
First ever naval combat H225M delivered to the Brazilian Navy

Developed by the engineering team at Helibras (the Brazilian subsidiary of Airbus Helicopters), this naval version of the H225M aircraft is the most complex configuration that has ever been produced for this multirole helicopter. The aircraft’s embedded systems include the EWS IDAS-3 (countermeasure system), MBDA Exocet AM39 B2M2 missiles, the APS143 tactical radar and the naval mission system N-TDMS (Naval Tactical Data Management System) developed in partnership with Atech and Airbus Defense and Space, which is responsible for making the command and control of all embedded systems, including the missile system.

«We are very proud of this achievement, which proves the industrial and technological capability of the Airbus Helicopters teams in France and Brazil to deliver one of the most modern solutions in the world to the Brazilian Armed Forces», said Alberto Robles, Head of Latin America at Airbus Helicopters. «Designed to meet the most demanding requirements of the Brazilian Navy, the advanced anti-surface warfare and tactical capabilities open new mission capabilities for the H225M utility helicopter».

The last stage of the firing campaign with the Exocet AM39 B2M2 missiles was successfully carried out last June, representing a major milestone in the programme, which led the way to qualification and delivery.

The naval H225M is part of the contract signed by the Brazilian government in 2008 and which includes 50 H225Ms to be operated by the three armed forces. So far, 39 H225Ms have been delivered to the Brazilian Armed Forces, all of them assembled locally by Helibras.

Two more H160s

The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has confirmed an option to Airbus Helicopters, Babcock and Safran Helicopter Engines for two more H160s for the French Navy. These aircraft will join the fleet of four H160s already contracted in 2020, the first of which is currently being assembled by Airbus Helicopters in Marignane, in the south of France. The six H160s will be delivered in a Search and Rescue (SAR) configuration and will gradually start operating from May 2022 from Lanveoc-Poulmic naval air station (Britany), Cherbourg airport (Normandy) and Hyères naval air station (Provence). Awaiting the H160M «Guépard» deliveries in the frame of the French Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) programme, these H160s will take over the SAR missions currently conducted by the NH90s and Panthers, allowing these combat helicopters to fulfill their main tasks at sea on board combat vessels.

Airbus H160
Two more H160s for the French Navy

The French Navy’s operational feedback with these H160s will benefit the design of the military version of the aircraft and its associated support system.

The H160s were ordered by Babcock in 2018 and will be maintained and equipped in partnership with Airbus Helicopters, and Safran Helicopters Engines ensuring the highest level of availability for the French Navy and the continuity of SAR operations on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coasts. Built by Airbus Helicopters, the six H160s will be equipped with a winch and a modular cabin that can be optimized for each mission. The H160s will be certified for use of night vision goggles which are necessary for winching operations at night.

The six H160s will be modified into a light military configuration by Babcock, a provider of critical, complex engineering services to governments, to answer to the needs of the French Navy. Babcock will integrate the Safran Electronics & Defense new generation electro-optical system, Euroflir 410.

The H160, as a next generation medium twin-engine aircraft, powered by Arrano engines, is modular by design in order to address missions ranging from offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services.

169 H160Ms, «Guépard», are foreseen in the frame of the HIL programme to replace five types of helicopters in service with the French armed forces.

Stimulus plan

The French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has announced that the Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed an order to purchase eight additional H225Ms and a second VSR700 prototype. The H225Ms will be operated by the French Air and Space Force. The VSR700 is an unmanned aerial system being developed for the French Navy in partnership with Naval Group. This order is part of a Stimulus plan to support the national aeronautical industry announced by the French government in 2020. For Airbus Helicopters, the plan also includes an order for two H145s for the Sécurité Civile and 10 H160s for the French Gendarmerie Nationale.

H225M
France orders H225Ms and VSR700 prototype in support of helicopter industry

«We are very thankful to the French government for their support of the aeronautical industry through the Stimulus plan. This is a win-win situation as the aircraft fulfill a real operational need for the French armed forces and this order allows Airbus Helicopters to secure jobs and key skills in the medium term», said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. «The French armed forces are facing increasing and varied challenges and I am confident that the H225M, thanks to its excellent range and multirole capacity, will be an efficient and reliable asset that will enhance their operations at home and abroad. The VSR700 is also a crucial programme. It will provide the French Navy with a highly capable autonomous platform and it will pave the way for future unmanned systems within the Airbus Helicopters portfolio».

Like the rest of the aeronautical industry, the helicopter industry has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 saw the worldwide market decrease by 50%. The support of the French government will help secure 960 jobs during the next three years for Airbus Helicopters and its suppliers.

These contracts will benefit the French helicopter industry as a whole, including other key French aerospace providers such as Safran Helicopters Engines with the H225M’s Makila 2A engines, Safran Power Units with the Saphir 20 auxiliary power unit, Safran Electronic Defense with the electro-optical system Euroflir 410M NG and the Sigma inertial navigation system, and Thales with the VUHF radio TRA6034 and IFF transponder TSC4000. But with more than 300 French Tier 1 suppliers involved in the H225M’s supply chain, the contract will also benefit a variety of small and medium enterprises. The VSR700 is based on the Cabri G2 light helicopter built by local SME Hélicoptères Guimbal.

First deliveries of the H225Ms are planned to start in 2024 and will fulfill the Air and Space Force’s operational needs and the long awaited replacement of the Puma fleet.

Thanks to a modular and versatile configuration allowing the integration of diverse equipment, the aircraft will be dedicated to a wide range of military missions including combat/search and rescue, medical evacuation, support to the population in times of crisis, and tactical training. While based in the Air and Space Force’s Cazaux base in Southwest France, the helicopters will be deployed across the country and will also support the French armed forces’ operations overseas.

With more than 104 helicopters in service and more than 143,000 flight hours accumulated to date, the H225M is a recognized combat-proven, versatile and reliable workhorse for military missions worldwide. Among the essential operational advantages offered by the 11-tonne helicopter is the in-flight refueling capacity, already tested by the French and Brazilian air forces.

Designed to operate alongside other shipborne naval assets, the VSR700 unmanned aerial system (UAS) is being developed within the frame of the SDAM (Système de drone aérien de la Marine) programme for the French Navy. The VSR700, derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2, is an unmanned aerial system in the 500-1000 kg maximum take-off weight range. It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance and operational cost. It is capable of carrying multiple full-size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate from existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.

The first prototype of the VSR700 performed its maiden flight in 2020 and has recently begun expanding its flight envelope.

Light Utility Helicopter

Airbus Helicopters has handed over the seventh and last H145 for the Search And Rescue (SAR) service of the Bundeswehr to the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) on time. The previously delivered helicopters are used for training and field testing and are available 24/7 at the Niederstetten and Nörvenich air bases for rescue operations. Operations with the new H145 Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) SAR will begin shortly, as planned, at the third SAR station in Holzdorf.

H145 LUH SAR
Airbus delivers seventh H145 for the German Armed Forces’ Search and Rescue service

«We are pleased that we have completed this order from start to finish on time and within budget and that the commissioning is proceeding according to plan», said Wolfgang Schoder, CEO of Airbus Helicopters Germany. «The feedback we have received from our customers has been very positive. Because of their flexibility and very high availability, the helicopters of the H145 family have proven themselves in the Bundeswehr. We see considerably more possibilities for a wide range of tasks in all branches of the armed forces for the reliable model».

Among other features, the helicopters are equipped with high-performance cameras, searchlights, emergency beacon locator systems, a full suite of medical equipment, rescue winches, and load hooks that can be used for fire-extinguishing tanks, for example. They are easy to identify thanks to the characteristic bright orange paintwork on their doors, featuring ‘SAR’ in blue lettering.

 

Technical Description

Fast cruise speed at Maximum TakeOff Weight (MTOW) 129 knots/149 mph/240 km/h
Maximum range with standard fuel tanks 345 NM/396 miles/638 km
Maximum endurance with standard fuel tanks 3:32
MTOW 8,378 lbs./3800 kg
Useful load 4,200 lbs./1,905 kg
MTOW with external load 8,378 lbs./3800 kg
Maximum seating capacity 2+10
Sling capacity 3,527 lbs./1,600 kg
Engine 2 × Safran Helicopter Engines Arriel
2E turboshaft
Maximum TakeOff Power (per engine) 667 kW/894 shp
Maximum emergency power (O.E.I) 800 kW/1,072 shp
Usable fuel capacity 1,593.9 lbs./723 kg

 

Airbus Flightlab

Airbus Helicopters has started in-flight tests on board its Flightlab, a platform-agnostic flying laboratory exclusively dedicated to maturing new technologies. Airbus Helicopters’ Flightlab provides an agile and efficient test bed to quickly test technologies that could later equip Airbus’ current helicopter range, and even more disruptive ones for future fixed-wing aircraft or electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) platforms.

Flightlab
Airbus unveils its helicopter Flightlab to test tomorrow’s technologies

Airbus Helicopters intends to pursue the testing of hybrid and electric propulsion technologies with its Flightlab demonstrator, as well as exploring autonomy, and other technologies aimed at reducing helicopter sound levels or improving maintenance and flight safety.

«Investing in the future remains essential, even in times of crisis, especially when those innovations bring added value to our customers by targeting increased safety, reduced pilot workload, and reduced sound levels», said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. «Having a dedicated platform to test these new technologies brings the future of flight a step closer and is a clear reflection of our priorities at Airbus Helicopters», he added.

Flight tests started last April when the demonstrator was used to measure helicopter sound levels in urban areas and to particularly study how buildings may affect people’s perception. First results show that buildings play an important role in masking or amplifying sound levels and these studies will be instrumental when the time comes for sound modelling and regulation setting, especially for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiatives. Testing was pursued in December to evaluate the Rotor Strike Alerting System (RSAS) aimed at alerting crews about the imminent risk of collision with the main and tail rotors.

Tests this year will include an image-detection solution with cameras to enable low altitude navigation, the viability of a dedicated Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) for light helicopters, and an Engine Back-up System, which will provide emergency electric power in the event of a turbine failure. Testing on the Flightlab will continue in 2022 in order to evaluate a new ergonomic design of intuitive pilot flight controls intended to further reduce pilot workload, which could be applicable to traditional helicopters as well as other VTOL formulas such as UAM.

The Flightlab is an Airbus-wide initiative, which reflects the company’s approach to innovation focused on delivering value to customers. Airbus already has several well-known Flightlabs such as the A340 MSN1, used to assess the feasibility of introducing laminar flow wing technology on a large airliner, and the A350 Airspace Explorer used to evaluate connected cabin technologies inflight.

Border Protection

Airbus Helicopters, Inc. (AHI) has delivered the first of 16 new H125 helicopters uniquely configured for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO). AMO collaborated with AHI as part of a long-term fleet upgrade initiative, and the resulting configuration has led to one of the most advanced, high-tech law enforcement helicopters ever developed.

Airbus delivers first of 16 advanced law enforcement H125 helicopters to U.S. Customs and Border Protection

«Our mission is to safeguard the nation by anticipating and confronting security threats», said Steve Boyer, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner for AMO. «Airbus Helicopters’ continued commitment to designing, manufacturing, and delivering quality products will enable AMO personnel to successfully and safely carry out this mission».

The first helicopter for the new configuration was tested and delivered from Airbus Helicopters, Inc.’s facility in Grand Prairie, Texas. The remaining aircraft are being built in Columbus, Miss, where a workforce made up of 40 percent U.S. veterans also produces the UH-72A Lakota for the U.S. Army and has delivered more than 450 single-engine H125 aircraft for the North American market.

Following a rigorous analysis of its mission needs and next generation aerospace technology, AMO developed a set of requirements for the new helicopters, which Airbus put in place through nearly 30 Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs). The series of STCs are tied together through a primary all-encompassing STC that ensures all of the systems interact properly with one another and with the basic aircraft.

Airbus and AMO have a longstanding relationship of more than 30 years, during which Airbus has delivered more than 100 helicopters from the H120 and H125 family. This new acquisition was made possible through a partnership with Davenport Aviation, an SBA-certified woman-owned small business and HUBZone contractor specializing in the supply of aerospace equipment to federal, state and local government agencies.

«We are honored to partner with Airbus Helicopters and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to support this fleet upgrade for enhanced law enforcement capabilities through the procurement of 16 new H125 helicopters from our GSA contract», said Leah Simoes, Owner and Chairwoman of Davenport Aviation. «Throughout this project, we have been very appreciative of the support we have received from Airbus and CBP of our WOSB, HUBZone Certified small business».

Known for its power, versatility and excellent performance in hot and high conditions, the H125 features dual hydraulics, dual channel engine FADEC, a crash resistant fuel system, and advanced glass-panel cockpit displays. The H125 is the single most popular law enforcement helicopter in the U.S., accounting for nearly half of all helicopters delivered for that mission in North America over the last decade.

First free flight

The prototype of Airbus Helicopters’ VSR700 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) has performed its first free flight on 28 July 2020. The VSR700 performed a ten-minute flight at a drone test centre near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.

VSR700 prototype performs first autonomous free flight

This is a significant step in the programme following the first flight in November 2019 when the prototype was tethered to comply with regulatory requirements. To enable this free flight, Airbus Helicopters implemented geofencing, a virtual perimeter, which enabled and justified a flight clearance from airworthiness authorities for free flight. The flight test programme will now evolve to progressively open the flight envelope.

«The free flight achieved by the VSR700 is a major step leading up to the sea trials that will be performed at the end of 2021 as part of the de-risking studies for the French Navy’s future drone», said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. «Thanks to the French PlanAero, the programme will make full use of two demonstrators and an optionally piloted vehicle to develop and mature the technical and operational aspects for successful UAS operations in a naval environment».

The VSR700, derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2, is an unmanned aerial system in the 500-1000 kg/1102-2204 lbs. maximum take-off weight range. It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance and operational cost. It is capable of carrying multiple full-size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate from existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.

This VSR700 prototype has evolved over the last nine months since its maiden flight. The programme implemented the geofencing function, as well as a Flight Termination System allowing the mission to be ended if necessary. Modifications have equally been performed to the air vehicle, alongside autopilot software evolutions and updates, as well as structural modifications and reinforcements.

 

Technical Data

Length 6.2 m/19.6 feet
Height 2.28 m/7.4 feet
Main rotor diameter 7.2 m/23.5 feet
Endurance Over 10 hours; 8 hours with full tactical load
Payloads (100 kg/220.5 lbs.) Rapid role change, multiple payloads: Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR), Radar, Communications Intelligence (COMINT), Automatic Identification System (AIS), etc.
Maximum speed 120 knots/185 km/h
Ceiling 6,000 m/20,000 feet
Propulsion Aviation Certified Engine; Diesel fuel and Jet fuel
Maximum takeoff weight 700 kg/1,543 lbs.
Maximum wind for takeoff & landing 45 knots/80 km/h (in all directions)