Airbus Helicopters, Bell Helicopters, Turkish Aerospace, Russian Helicopters… The 2015 edition of the Paris Air Show was far from being dedicated to the sole helicopters, but several manufacturers were there on the display.
Don’t get the wrong idea, Paris Air Show is mostly for planes
The French Army is proud of the NH90 TTH, used in operation in Africa and middle east.
Maiden flight of the Airbus Helicopters H160, copyright 2015 M. Moutoussamy
Stable, extremely easy, barely any vibrations, smooth like a flying carpet. The first words of the pilot after the landing are very optimistic and encouraging.
The model H160 by Airbus Helicopters, previously called prototype X4, made its maiden flight on Saturday 13th, June, at the main plant in Marignane, southern France. With 24°C and 5 kt of wind, the weather was rather nice.
With the introduction of many new technologies, everyone tries to hunt for the hints, and we will give it a try as well.
First, unusual control surfaces appeared, such as a rudder on the tail fin. The rudder can be seen on the photo in forward flight below:
H160 PT1 in forward flight, copyright T. Rostang for Airbus Helicopters, 2015
However, what appears to be a separate piece on the lower part of the horizontal stabilator is fixed (B. Fujarski in “4 Rotors”, issue of Summer 2015). We can assume that it allows to use more power for the main rotor in fast forward flight, while the anti-torque is ensured by the huge tail fin instead of the fenestron.
With 6 metric tons MTOW, the H160 is slightly heavier than the H155 (4,5 t) and completes the product range, closing the gap under the H175.
The helicopter is powered with 2 Arrano 1A, newly developped by the company Turbomeca. However, it seems that the gear box stays the same as for the H155. The rotor blades are, of course, brand new. They were introduced by Eurocopter with the programme “Blue Edge” during the year 2010.
These rotor blades were later observed on a modified H135 in Germany.
D-HEEX, H135 silent prototype (copyright Marc Ulm)
Another curious feature is located on the top of the tail, in front of the strobe light.
H160, sensor on the top of the tail fin, copyright Airbus Helicopters
Finally, the canted fenestron will provide better support for a correct weight and balance, compensating the heavy tail that might be pushing the center of gravity to the rear.
All pictures are extract from the movies, copyright Airbus Helicopters
Part 1: From Marignane to Greece and Crete
Marignane-Iraklion, EC225 Airbus Helicopters
They took off November 6th in the early morning, LFML (Marseille, France), good weather. Cruise ground speed: 166 kt, slightly more than 300 km/h.
In this part, you will enjoy views of the Mediterranean coast, how you prepare the mooring of the aircraft for the night, and what internal auxiliary fuel tanks look like.
When you buy a helicopter, you can generally have 3 possibilities to get it delivered:
by plane, usually an Antonov 124, which is quick and the helicopter arrives almost ready to fly, but expensive
by ship, much cheaper than by plane, but very long
by conveying, where the helicopter flies from the manufacturing plant in Marignane to the location of the customer
Part 2: From Crete to Oman
Landing in Riyadh, EC225 by night
After-flight inspection by night, EC225
Via Egypt and Saudi Arabia, you will discover the maritime arabian oil fields, how to park in a tight spot, and the importance of the last inspection of the aircraft at the end of the day.
Part 3: From Oman to India
When your aircraft spends the night alone without any surveillance, you want to make sure that nobody entered your aircraft.
With the weather radar in search mode, you will see not only the coast, but also ships and other obstacles.
Muscat to Ahmedabad
radar in search mode, EC225
Ahmedabad to Kolkata
EC225 after 7 hours flight
After the flight, you need to refuel, organize the electric power generator for the night, check in at the customs, find your hotel!
here comes the power generator – India is exotic! 😉
Should we call it X3e, like all the current new models at Eurocopter? Or X3i? Or X3+? Or X3²?
Yesterday, Eurocopter presented a new concept, a helicopter where the pilot is only an option. The EC145 c/n 9001 is the usual research aircraft of the company, known recently for the “Blue Pulse” program, intended to reduce the rotor noise.
EC145 OPV F-ZWAM, Istres, France, Eurocopter
However, not only the new drone was presented. A small surprise was displayed at the end of the movie. You thought the X3 was there only by chance? Of course not!
The Istres Air Base is the most suitable flight testing area in France. All previous test flights of X3 were made there and even the main runway was adapted to land the American space shuttles.
A closer look onto the prototype makes it clear: the rotor head and the top of the airframe have been modified.
X3 seen from behind, optimised for high speed
X3 seen from behind, Paris Air Show 2011
Yes, the aircraft is being prepared for very high speeds. Eurocopter’s X3 is becoming a fierce competitor to Sikorsky’s X2. Mr Bertling is preparing to leave his seat as a CEO to Mr Faury next week and this challenge is indeed a great gift: the company displays its innovative skills.
X3 and EC145 OPV on ground -“the best is yet to come”
Do you remember the DGV, Dauphin Grande Vitesse, which became once the fastest helicopter with 372 km/h in 1991? The aircraft never forgot its appetite for the records. In fact, some parts of the Dauphin DGV were removed and the helicopter was modified to build the X3.
Aerospatiale Dauphin DGV, speed record breaker in 1991
Now, for the pleasure of your eyes, enjoy these pictures from the movie.