The H160 is the pride of Airbus Helicopters’ employees, and on 25 June, was presented to the 9,000 present at Marignane, in southern France. For the occasion, a first test unit flight demonstration was on the agenda.
This latest of civil helicopters, the H160, is packed with innovations covered by no less than 68 patents. But before it can be marketed in 2018, the rotorcraft will have to undergo a battery of tests just like any new airliner. Warm weather testing (over 50° C. / 120° F.) will be held in the coming weeks, first in Europe, then the USA, followed by the cold weather testing, (-50°C. / -58 °F.) in Canada, and the high-altitude tests.
For its civil certification, the H160 will have to pass these tests, and accumulate 1,000 flight hours. In all, three helicopters will be used for this test programme. The first, which became operational on 13 June, has already undertaken several flights, and reached a speed of 240 km/h (150 mph). The second unit has just been ‘‘Power-on’’ tested. Assembly of the third test H160 is at present underway.
Production of this futuristic design aircraft should begin on Airbus Group’s helicopter division assembly line, at Marignane, in 2016, with a manufacturing lead-time target of 18 weeks per unit.