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.
«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.
Fast cruise speed at Maximum TakeOff Weight (MTOW)
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.
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.
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.
«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.
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.
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.
6.2 m/19.6 feet
2.28 m/7.4 feet
Main rotor diameter
7.2 m/23.5 feet
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.
120 knots/185 km/h
6,000 m/20,000 feet
Aviation Certified Engine; Diesel fuel and Jet fuel
Airbus Helicopters has joined hands with over 20 Australian partners to form Team Nightjar, as the consortium launches its solution to Project LAND 2097 Phase 4. Under this Project, the Commonwealth of Australia is seeking a fleet of helicopters to support the Australian Defence Force’s Special Operations.
Bringing together Australia’s best industry capabilities and academia, the Team Nightjar members include: Cablex, Cyborg Dynamics, Deakin University, DEWC, ECLIPS, Ferra Engineering, Helicopter Logistics, Helimods, Kinetic Fighting, Kratos Australia, Microflite, PREDICT Australia, QinetiQ Australia, Safran Helicopter Engines Australia, Seeing Machines, Sigma Bravo, Rusada, TAFE NSW, Tagai Management Consultants, Toll Helicopters, University of Technology Sydney, Varley Group and Varley Rafael Australia.
In response to the Commonwealth of Australia’s request for proposal for a four-tonne class, rapidly deployable, multi-role helicopter for the Australian Special Forces, Team Nightjar will be offering a fleet of the highly capable Airbus H145M and in-country support.
«We recognise the importance of working with Australian companies on this programme, with each partner offering niche capabilities to the Commonwealth. Building on our established commitment to Australian industry, Team Nightjar will have a strong focus on Australian industrial support and innovation», said Andrew Mathewson, Managing Director of Airbus Australia Pacific.
The local consortium will deliver world leading training solutions, empower indigenous participation, and enable rapid design and delivery of enhancements throughout the programme’s lifetime.
With a clear commitment to invest in Australian-led innovation, the teaming proposal will generate over AUD250 million of economic benefits and more than 170 Australian jobs.
«We believe these capabilities will greatly enhance the core offering of the very capable H145M helicopter, while providing local jobs, technology transfer and export opportunities. The Commonwealth is seeking a proven, mature and highly reliable off-the-shelf platform and robust support systems. The H145M that we are proposing is the latest member of the H145 family, which has flown over 5.9 million hours with more than 1,400 aircraft in service globally across civil, parapublic and military domains. It is well supported by a mature global network. The H145M is an exemplar platform for light special operations and is a solid match for the Special Forces’ requirements, with proven capabilities for no-fail, high-readiness missions», added Mathewson.
The light twin-engine aircraft is an operationally proven, affordable and low-risk option for Australia, complementing the MRH90 Taipan with improved mobility and situational awareness for special operations. By virtue of its compact size, the H145M will be optimised for operations within dense urban terrain and will be rapidly deployable via a C-17A Globemaster.
The H145M is tried and tested and is gaining popularity among defence forces due to its excellent price-performance ratio and the short delivery time, counting military forces in Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Serbia and Thailand as customers.
In particular, the H145M is today supporting special operations roles with the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) with mission readiness of above 99%, delivering safety and superior power and payload.
Airbus has nearly two decades of presence in Australia, building extensive local industrial capabilities and network, in support of the country’s defence and commercial aviation. With a strong local team of more than 1,500 employees working across 23 sites for civil and military fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft, the company has injected over A$1.7 billion of activities into the Australian aerospace industry, including A$100 million of direct investments from ARH Tiger and MRH90 projects.
Australia’s smallest nocturnal bird of prey, the nightjar’s characteristics include agility, stealth through its compact size, excellent camouflage, silence in flight and non-reflective eyes. The nightjar is known to hunt in pairs, and catch prey on the wing, combining its heightened senses, agility, speed, power and focus – characteristics which are critical for Special Operations. With close resemblance to Airbus’ H145M, the Australian nightjar is adopted as the inspiration for the team’s response to Project LAND 2097 Phase 4.
Airbus Helicopters and the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) are pursuing a new set of studies to further the militarisation of the H160 and to define its associated support ecosystem in the frame of the Joint Light Helicopter program (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) This contract launches pre-development activities for the military version of the H160, also called the Guépard by the French armed forces, in order to meet the delivery schedule that was brought forward in May 2019 by the French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly.
The new set of studies will also focus on defining the optimal set-up for supporting the tri-service H160M fleet. Airbus Helicopters, Safran Helicopter Engines, and the DGA will work closely together in order to maximize the availability rate of the helicopters, as well as optimizing the cost of supporting the fleet.
«Launching this collaborative work between Industry and the Ministry of the Armed Forces in order to define the support framework for the Guépard and the associated processes, as early as the pre-development phase, is essential. The output will provide us with all the levers necessary to ensure a high level of availability at the H160M’s entry into service in the French armed forces», said Alexandra Cros, Vice President and Head of Governmental Affairs France at Airbus Helicopters. «The studies build upon the work and commitments taken recently in the global support contracts for the Cougar, Caracal, and Tiger fleets of the French armed forces».
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 through the HIL programme. Bringing the launch of the HIL programme forward to 2021 will enable first deliveries to the French armed forces in 2026.
Airbus Helicopters in the UK is to provide four additional H145 helicopters as part of an expansion of the UK Military Flight Training System (UKMFTS).
The new helicopters will join the existing fleet of 29 H135s and three H145s, known respectively as Juno and Jupiter in UKMFTS service. They will be delivered during 2020.
Operated by Ascent Flight Training Management Ltd primarily from Royal Air Force (RAF) Shawbury and also RAF Valley on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, the aircraft are used to train all UK military helicopter pilots and rear crew.
Airbus Helicopters is fully embedded at both bases as the rotary wing aircraft service provider to Ascent.
Managing director of Airbus Helicopters in the UK, Colin James, said: «The H135 Juno and H145 Jupiter are demonstrating day-in and day-out their exceptional reliability and versatility in the training role at UKMFTS. It’s deeply satisfying for us to see the first aircrew having already graduated and we look forward to delivering the additional aircraft in the very near future».
The H145 helicopter family has completed more than 5.5 million flight hours worldwide with more than 1,300 aircraft in the global fleet.
Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first of two H145M multipurpose helicopters for defence and security missions to the Government of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. Together with the helicopters, Airbus also provides a training and support package to its customer. The delivery of the second helicopter is scheduled before the end of the year. The delivered H145M is the first H145 in Luxembourg.
The helicopter is equipped with a hoist, a fast roping system, a high-performance camera, a search light, advanced communication systems, and will have provisions to install a light armour protection kit. The latest technologies to allow the helicopter to operate in adverse weather conditions and during nighttime are incorporated in the design. The helicopter will be operated and serviced at Luxembourg Findel Airport, where it has been presented to public today for the first time. With a maximum take-off weight of 3.7 tonnes, the H145M can be used for a wide range of tasks, including troop and passenger transport, surveillance, air rescue, reconnaissance and medical evacuation.
The H145M is a tried-and-tested light twin-engine helicopter that was first delivered in 2015 to the German Armed Forces and has since been ordered by Hungary, Thailand and the Republic of Serbia. Mission readiness of the H145Ms already in service is above 95 percent.
Powered by two Safran Arriel 2E engines, the H145M is equipped with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) and the Helionix digital avionics suite. It includes a high-performance 4-axis autopilot, increasing safety and reducing pilot workload. Its particularly low acoustic footprint makes the H145M the quietest helicopter in its class.
The prototype of Airbus Helicopters’ VSR700 unmanned aerial system has performed its first flight at a drone test centre near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. The VSR700 performed several take-offs and landings on Friday 8th of November with the longest flight lasting around 10 minutes.
In accordance with the airworthiness authority that provided the flight clearance, the VSR700 was tethered with 30-metre/98-foot cables to fully secure the flight test zone. The subsequent phases of the flight test programme will now evolve towards free flight, and then progressively open the flight envelope.
«The VSR700 is a fully-fledged unmanned aerial system, capitalising on Airbus Helicopters’ extensive experience of advanced autopilot systems and engineering expertise to provide modern militaries with new capabilities», said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. «This first flight of the VSR700 prototype is a major milestone for the programme as we make progress on the operational demonstrator for the French Navy that will perform trials in 2021 in partnership with Naval Group».
The VSR700, derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2, is an unmanned aerial system in the 500-1000 kg/1,102-2,204 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 in existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.
The VSR700 prototype which has just performed its maiden flight is a step change from the optionally piloted demonstrator that first flew in 2017 and which was based on a modified Cabri G2 equipped for autonomous flight. Compared to the demonstrator, the VSR700 prototype has a specialized set of avionics and an advanced flight control system, a payload bay in place of the pilot station designed to manage mission equipment, as well as a sleeker, more aerodynamic shape to improve flight performance.
Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first NH90 Sea Lion naval multi-role helicopter to the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), with a further two to be delivered by the end of the year.
In total, 18 Sea Lions have been ordered for the German Navy, with deliveries expected to be completed in 2022. The selection of the Sea Lion as the successor to the Sea King was made in March 2013 and the corresponding contract was signed in June 2015.
«I am proud of our teams who worked hard to meet the ambitious delivery schedule of our customer, whose continuous support has also been key in making it happen», said Wolfgang Schoder, CEO of Airbus Helicopters Deutschland. «During the summer, we successfully completed demonstration flights involving the German Navy and BAAINBw to verify the Sea Lion capabilities for search and rescue as well as special forces missions. I am confident that these helicopters will bring next-generation capabilities to the German Navy, and I’m committed to ensure the best level of support for the Sea Lion fleet».
When deployed, NH90 Sea Lions will take on a wide range of roles including Search And Rescue (SAR), maritime reconnaissance, special forces as well as personnel and material transportation missions. In addition to its land-based use, the Sea Lion will also operate on Type 702 (Berlin class) combat support ships.
Thanks to its multi-role capability and growth capability, the Sea Lion will not only replace the German Navy’s Sea King Mk41 fleet but significantly enhance its operational capabilities. The fly-by-wire flight controls of the NH90 Sea Lion reduce the crew’s workload thanks to its high precision and ease of use, which particularly come to the fore in over-water hovering, even in poor weather conditions.
The German Navy has also recently opted for the naval version of the NH90 to succeed its 22 Sea Lynx Mk 88A on-board helicopters that have been in service since 1981.
Five nations are already using the NH90 in its naval NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) version and have completed more than 50,000 flying hours in SAR, humanitarian and military missions, with the 90 helicopters that have been delivered so far. The 399 helicopters that make up the worldwide NH90 fleet have already completed over 230,000 flying hours. This first Sea Lion is also the 400th NH90 helicopter to be delivered.
11,000 kg/24,250 lbs.
Crew (2 + 1 or 2 + 2) + up to 7/6 troops in Anti-Submarine Warfare/Anti-SUrface Warfare (ASW/ASuW), or up to 14 troops for transport in full crashworthy condition
2 RTM 322-01-9 or T700 T6E1 Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC). Maximum emergency power One Engine Inoperative (OEI) 30 sec: 2,172 kW/2,913 shp
Fast Cruise Speed
147 knots/169 mph/272 km/h
450 NM/518 miles/834 km
Anti-Submarine & Anti-SUrface
Search And Rescue
Logistic & vertical replenishment
Special operations (including maritime counter-terrorism and anti-piracy)
* Capability of 2 torpedoes or 2 anti-ship missiles, or 1 of each