(Image source: Airbus Helicopters)

First Airbus Helicopters H160 takes flight

The first serial Airbus Helicopters H160 medium utility helicopter rolled off the brand-new assembly line in Marignane, France and performed its first flight in a unique “signature” livery. The helicopter, which bears the names of hundreds of people working towards its certification, will be delivered to launch customer Babcock International in 2020.  

The H160, the first Airbus helicopter to bear the “H generation” designation, opens a new chapter in the history of Airbus. Airbus designed with H160 with a customer value focus, in terms of performance, economic competitiveness, safety, and comfort.

With 68 patents, the H160 integrates Airbus Helicopters’ latest technological innovations aimed at providing passengers with superior comfort thanks to the sound-reducing Blue Edge blades and superb external visibility for both passengers and pilots, and additional safety features provided by Helionix’s flight envelope protection systems and reduced pilot workload.

The first serial aircraft will join the three prototypes, which have already accumulated over 1,000 flight hours, in the final steps of the flight test campaign, namely confirming that the modifications that have been introduced through the serial configuration have no impact on the helicopter’s handling qualities.

The pre-serial prototypes were also used to mature the assembly process. Airbus Helicopters’ new industrial model, based on site specialization and a plug and play component assembly, has reduced the H160’s time to market to 24 weeks. This will enable customers to confirm their mission configuration at later stage based on market needs.

Babcock’s H160 fleet is destined for emergency medical service (EMS) and other critical services missions.

The H160 is equipped with two Safran Arrano, turboshaft engines, has a max takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds, a top speed of 202 miles per hour, and a range of 529 miles. Airbus claims that the H160 is 15% more efficient than previous generation models and has the largest cabin in its class.

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.
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