Third Airbus Helicopters H160 Takes Flight
The third Airbus Helicopters H160 prototype (PT3) performed its maiden flight at the company’s headquarters in Marignane, France on October 13. PT3 has a cabin interior configuration similar to that of a serial production aircraft and will join the flight-test program as the model continues its push for service entry anticipated for 2019.
“The third prototype incorporates a significant amount of modifications based on feedback resulting from the first two years of testing by development, production, and support teams,” said Bernard Fujarski, Airbus Helicopters senior vice president and director of H160 program. “It plays an essential role in delivering a mature aircraft at entry into service and it is also closer to the serial definition with its interior lining and transport cabin configuration,” he said.
Airbus Helicopters said the first two prototypes have logged more than 500 flight hours since the model’s maiden flight in June 2015. IThe first version of the H160 slated to enter service in 2019 will be for commercial passenger transport configured for oil and gas, followed by an emergency medical services (EMS) version.
To date, the H160 has achieved maximum cruise speeds up to 155 knots and flights beyond 400 nm. Final range is expected to “significantly” exceed that number, the company said. A spokesman said letters of intent for a number of the helicopters have already been signed and that Airbus Helicopters plans to announce launch customers by year-end.
The helicopter has an all-composite airframe, flat-floor cabin, oversized cabin windows, and a baggage compartment that can hold 661 pounds. Its cabin can be configured to seat four or eight passengers in executive/VIP layouts, or utility seating for 12. The H160 also incorporates a variety of new technologies, among them Blue Edge active tracking main rotor blades in a five-blade system with a double sweep design that reduces noise and makes the ride smoother, and new Safran Arrano engines that offer 10 to 15 percent better fuel consumption.