PRESS RELEASE – Marignane, 22 January 2021

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 (e)VTOL 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.

PRESS RELEASE – Alexandria, Va. (Jan. 20, 2021)

Responding to an increasing number of voices from across the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) industry, Helicopter Association International (HAI) has made the difficult decision to cancel HAI HELI-EXPO 2021.

HAI will not reschedule this year’s event. Instead, the association will redirect its efforts to producing HAI HELI-EXPO 2022, which will be held on March 7–10 in Dallas, Texas, a city that has traditionally been a hub of rotorcraft operations. HAI HELI-EXPO® has long served as a venue where the international VTOL industry annually gathers—to connect, learn, and conduct $2 billion in business.

“Please understand that we did not make this decision lightly,” says James Viola, president and CEO of HAI. “HAI is here to support our members and customers. Leading up to mid-January, the majority of industry voices who contacted us supported holding Expo as long as health and safety protocols were in place. We took extraordinary steps, working with our partners in New Orleans, to be able to conduct a safe event.”

As a mid-January deadline for exhibitors approached, the world also saw a spike in COVID-19 cases. “Pandemic conditions have changed, and the majority of our stakeholders have recently expressed discomfort with the logistics involved in business travel at this time,” Viola says. “In response, we concluded that we had to cancel HAI HELI-EXPO 2021. We’re grateful for the honest feedback that we received from our members, exhibitors, attendees, and other stakeholders.

“Like many others during this past year, we have had to adjust course in response to changing conditions,” says Viola. “HAI firmly believes that the flexibility that our industry has demonstrated throughout this pandemic will help our businesses and individuals persevere and strengthen.”

HAI is beginning to reach out to exhibitors, attendees, vendors, and other HAI HELI-EXPO 2021 stakeholders. Exhibitors have multiple options for their booth payments, including pushing participation and payment to the 2022 show in Dallas, repurposing dollars to other HAI advertising or sponsorship opportunities to support their business objectives in 2021, or issue of a full refund. More information on those options can be found at heliexpo.com/faq.

Registered attendees will receive a full refund, as will those who registered for HAI Professional Education courses. Our housing vendor, OnPeak, will cancel all hotel reservations booked within the HAI block. Registered attendees, HAI Professional Education course registrants, and those with hotel reservations within the HAI block will receive additional communication from HAI within the next 5–7 business days; more information is available at heliexpo.com/faq.

PRESS RELEASE – Alexandria, Va. (Jan. 14, 2021)

Helicopter Association International (HAI) remains committed to supporting the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) industry by holding an in-person HAI HELI-EXPO 2021 in New Orleans March 22–25, with exhibits open March 23–25.

“I want to be as transparent as possible in addressing the concerns of our industry,” says James Viola, president and CEO of HAI. “By partnering with the staff of the convention center, the city, and local businesses to mitigate the risks for HAI HELI-EXPO participants, we believe we can achieve a safe environment for the show. Please visit the COVID-19 webpage on the heliexpo.com website to see all the health and safety protocols that we will have in place in New Orleans. Masks, social distancing, frequent cleanings—these are only the tip of the spear in our risk management plan.

“The State of Louisiana has approved our trade show event—the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has more than 1.1 million square feet of exhibit space alone, so even with social distancing, it holds a lot of people. The only thing that will prevent us from holding HAI HELI-EXPO this March is if the New Orleans area is in a Phase One lockdown at that time,” says Viola. HAI has also consulted closely with Dr. Allison Stock, an epidemiologist formerly with the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), who is working with the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on health and safety issues.

“Convention center staff have undergone specific sanitation training as part of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation, which certifies that the convention center meets the industry’s highest standards of infectious disease prevention,” says Dr. Stock. “We are also working with HAI to make sure their on-site protocols and processes will meet the health and safety guidelines of the CDC and state and local public health authorities. “While we are in Phase One with tighter restrictions right now, that is scheduled to expire on Jan. 29. I fully expect that we will be able to host a show like HAI HELI-EXPO in March,” added Dr. Stock. “Working with people like Dr. Stock and the rest of the staff at the convention center has made our risk assessment and hazard mitigation process much easier,” continues Viola. “We also expect HAI HELI-EXPO attendees to do their part. We will insist on compliance with all health and safety guidelines by all articipants.” However, Viola acknowledges that traveling to New Orleans for the show will be difficult for some.

International travel is restricted, and some exhibitors—including some larger companies—have canceled.

“Travel at this time is a very personal decision,” says Viola. “I think each person has the right to make that decision for themselves and for their company. For those who can’t make it, we understand, and we’ll see them next year. “But we still have hundreds of companies and thousands of attendees who expect to attend, exhibit, or participate in education or industry meetings,” says Viola. “We know attendance at this show will be lower than usual, but we expect that many in our industry will still come to New Orleans in order to conduct the business necessary to keep their employees working and their companies moving ahead.”

Viola sees HAI’s commitment to hold the show as part of its commitment to its membership. “I’ll be blunt: holding the show under these conditions will be a financial loss for HAI, but it’s also a sound, practical, and necessary investment in our members and the industry,” Viola says. “Our industry needs this boost right now, and it has always been our responsibility to help our members keep their rotors turning,” says Viola. “The doors of HAI HELI-EXPO will be open to those who want to buy or sell, receive training, look for a new job, or just network with their industry peers. I hope to see you there.”

PRESS RELEASE – Marignane, 14 January 2021

All Nippon Helicopter’s (ANH) H160 has performed its first flight test, a 95-minute flight at the Marseille Provence Airport.

This successful maiden flight paves the way for the aircraft’s entry into service in Japan.

ANH deploys a helicopter fleet comprising six AS365s and five H135s for electronic news gathering for the TV stations across Japan. This H160 will replace one of its AS365s.  

“We are delighted to see the successful inaugural flight of Japan’s very first H160, and we are looking forward to this next-generation helicopter playing an important role in our nationwide missions,” said Jun Yanagawa, President of ANH. “Since the introduction of the AS365 helicopter three decades ago, the requirements of the electronic news gathering market is constantly evolving and has significantly improved. This state-of-the-art helicopter H160 is a timely welcome for our operations.”

The H160 was granted its type certificate by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in July 2020, with the certification from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) expected in early 2021. Upon delivery of the helicopter, specialised equipment installation and customisation will be performed at Airbus Helicopters’ Kobe facility, before its entry into service.

“We are honoured to have ANH as our H160 launch customer in Japan, as they renew their fleet. This successful first flight is particularly meaningful during this unprecedented time for the industry. We thank our customer and the teams involved for devoting maximum efforts into this achievement. We will continue to provide our utmost support and ensure a smooth delivery to ANH,” said Guillaume Leprince, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters in Japan.

Japan’s electronic news gathering market is a mature market with 87 helicopters dedicated for such missions today. Close to 70% of these helicopters are manufactured by Airbus, with the H125, AS365, H135 and H155 platforms commonly used by the operators. With the imminent introduction of the H160, which is equipped with additional safety features from the Helionix’s accrued pilot assistance, this helicopter will bring added leverage to the operator.

Designed as a multi-role helicopter capable of performing a wide range of missions such as offshore transportation, emergency medical services, private and business aviation, as well as public services, the H160 integrates Airbus’ latest technological innovations. The helicopter provides passengers with superior comfort thanks to the sound-reducing Blue Edge blades and superb external visibility that benefits both passengers and pilots.

PRESS RELEASE – Rome, 11 January 2021

  • The VVIP-configured aircraft, to be operated by the Colombian Air Force, is expected to be delivered in Spring this year 
  • The AW139’s success in Colombia grows further with five offshore transport units already in service in the country; the AW139M military variant is being offered by Leonardo to meet national military requirements 
  • Over 400 Leonardo civil and military helicopters are in service in Latin America today

The Leonardo AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopter will be the new Presidential Transport helicopter in the Republic of Colombia. The aircraft, in a special VVIP configuration, is expected to be delivered in spring this year and will be operated by the Colombian Air Force. 

The supply of this helicopter will make the Colombian Air Force the first military customer of the type in the country and will expand the existing AW139 fleet in Colombia. The model has already proven successful for civil transport operations supporting the Oil & Gas industry, with five units in service used by prime operator Helistar S.A.S.

The Presidential AW139 will feature, among others, an eight-seat configuration in the largest cabin in its category, the highest safety standards and include a self-defence suite, typically integrated into other helicopters in the Head of State/Government transport role. 

The selection of the AW139 VVIP in Colombia confirms the leading role of Leonardo in the world’s VIP multiengine helicopter market with a 40% share and grows the success of the type across Latin America for a range or roles, including VIP and offshore transport, law enforcement and public services. A successful model in the global military market thanks to its outstanding performance in hot & high, payload, versatility, latest technologies and modern serviceability approach often replacing the ageing UH-1 series, the AW139M military variant is also being proposed by Leonardo to respond to the multirole requirements of the Air Force, Army, National Police and Navy in Colombia. With over 400 civil and military helicopters in service in Latin America today, Leonardo is a major force in the rotorcraft sector across the region. 

The AW139 sets new standards as a result of its advanced technology, high performance, reliability, safety, role flexibility and cabin space. Its modern avionics reduce crew workload allowing the pilot to focus on the mission. Orders for nearly 1,200 units in over 70 countries have been placed by more than 280 customers worldwide and nearly 1,100 helicopters are in service with more than 2.9 million flight hours logged in operations to date, confirming itself as the bestselling aircraft in its category. The AW139 has also found significant success for VVIP and Government transport duties worldwide thanks to its outstanding reliability, safety, comfort, customisation and versatility.  

PRESS RELEASE – Rome, 11 January 2021

  • AW169 helicopter’s success in Latin America grows further for VIP/corporate transport missions and shows type’s ability to meet evolving market requirements in Mexico with private customer’s order for one aircraft 
  • The AW169 gives AW139-like bestselling capabilities in a smaller category and offers Mexican light twin operators greater payload and cabin space showing great potential for regional VIP market reshaping    
  • Nearly 240 AW169s ordered by customers worldwide to date for a wide range of civil, parapublic and military roles 

A Mexican private operator will introduce into service an AW169 this year, featuring a highly customized configuration combining the highest standards of quality and comfort and leveraging the outstanding cabin space of the model.

Leonardo announced today that the AW169 new generation light intermediate twin engine helicopter is set to enter the Mexican VIP/Corporate market, further expanding the success of the type among operators across Latin America and the globe and strengthening the role of Leonardo in the world’s multiengine VIP helicopter segment which already accounts for an approximately 40% share. 

Popular types like the AW109 light twin series and the AW139 intermediate twin have also proven extremely successful in Latin America and Mexico for various applications, including VIP/Corporate transport, over the years and the AW169 is now one more option to meet evolving regional market requirements. For more than three decades, Leonardo has been the preferred OEM of Mexican customers for VIP/executive transport operations with several AW109 variants sold and in service. The AW169 offers existing light twin operators in Mexico higher payload, more space and greater comfort. At the same time, as the lighter brother of the world class AW139, the AW169 benefits from the AW Family commonalities delivering similar capabilities on a smaller and lighter scale with distinguished equipment and systems. The AW109 GrandNew and Trekker models will continue to offer best-in-class capabilities for operators looking for light twins with high performance and customization levels. 

The AW169 incorporates several new technology features in the rotor system, engines, avionics, transmission and electric power generation and distribution systems. The AW169 can comfortably accommodate up to ten passengers in its large, unobstructed cabin, fitted with a range of customised equipment and entertainment systems. The aircraft is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney PW210A turboshafts which also have an auxiliary power unit (APU) mode, ensuring the continued operation of the environmental control system and radios, among others, when the rotors are stopped.

The AW169’s avionic suite introduces state-of-the-art technology including a fully digital NVG compatible cockpit with three large area displays and touch screen technology with enhanced 3D graphics capability for maximum situational awareness. The AW169 is also the first helicopter in its category entering the market with an electric retractable landing gear which reduces complexity and maintenance requirements. This solution adds to fixed landing gear and skid landing gear as options. A performance increase package is under development to provide even greater capabilities to customers in all conditions, including Hot&High, for which the AW169 will have the best in class power-to-weight ratio making the AW169 the perfect fit for operations in Mexico. 

Certified in 2015, nearly 240 AW169s have been ordered by customers worldwide to date to carry out a range of mission including VIP/corporate transport, EMS/SAR, law enforcement, firefighting, electronic news gathering, utility, training and military missions.

ANSV NEWS: 30 Dicembre 2020

A seguito dell’incidente occorso nel pomeriggio di oggi 30 dicembre all’elicottero Airbus Helicopters H125 [AS350B3e] marche di identificazione I-LGLG, in località San Martino, comune di Sarentino (BZ), l’Agenzia nazionale per la sicurezza del volo (ANSV) ha avviato un’inchiesta di sicurezza.

Sostanzialmente illesi i cinque occupanti, completamente distrutto l’aeromobile.

Details available at ASN Accident Page at the following link: https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/246365

PRESS RELEASE – Donauwörth, 18 December 2020

Airbus Helicopters and ÖAMTC Air Rescue have signed a firm contract for the purchase of five H135s. The delivery of the first helicopter of this contract is scheduled for early 2022.

“Our demanding missions require the most modern helicopters available for enhancing our capability for critical missions, e.g. during the night. We have been operating the H135 for more than 20 years, and we look forward to benefiting from the advantages that the Helionix version brings,” said Reinhard Kraxner, CEO at ÖAMTC Air Rescue. “The reduced pilot workload combined with the 4-axis autopilot will be a valuable asset onboard for our crews that rescue patients often in challenging environments.”

“We thank ÖAMTC Air Rescue for their continued trust in Airbus Helicopters and particularly in the H135,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “The H135 continues to demonstrate that it is the reference in air medical rescue all over the world.”

ÖAMTC Air Rescue operates 28 H135 helicopters from 17 permanent bases and 4 additional bases during the wintertime in Austria. Last year, the operator performed more than 20,000 missions, with on average 52 missions per day.

The H135 is the helicopter of reference for helicopter emergency medical service operators worldwide. It combines a wide, unobstructed cabin with excellent performance, range and payload capacity – along with low sound levels. The oversized sliding side doors and rear clamshell doors enable fast loading/unloading of patients, with additional safety during ground operations provided by Airbus’ signature shrouded Fenestron tail rotor.

On top of the 4-axis autopilot, Helionix offers an innovative cockpit layout which helps to increase situational awareness. Designed with three large electronic displays on the H135, the cockpit is Night Vision Goggle compatible and includes a First Limit Indicator which highlights the appropriate engine instrument data for the pilot in one indicator.
To date, more than 1,400 helicopters of the H135 family have been delivered around the globe with more than 5,6 million flight hours.

PRESS RELEASE – Marignane, 18 December 2020

Airbus Helicopters and its historical partner Héli-Union have signed a contract for the purchase of two multi-mission H160s to address a wide range of operations.

 “We are excited to be one of the first customers to onboard the H160 which will expand our fleet of 40 helicopters. We believe this program will have a great future in both civil and defence sectors and are delighted to be an actor of its growth” said Patrick Molis, Héli-Union CEO.

“We are proud that Héli-Union, with its vast experience across the globe, especially in offshore transportation, has selected the H160 to bolster its fleet of Airbus helicopters,” said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. “The H160 not only raises the bar in terms of safety, thanks to its numerous pilot assistance features, but its reduced fuel consumption brings much needed operational competitiveness, as well as a lower carbon footprint, to the market,” he added. 

With 68 patents, the H160 integrates Airbus Helicopters’ latest technological innovations aimed at increasing safety and comfort.  The Blue Edge blades and the largest shrouded Fenestron tail rotor ensure low sounds levels and deliver high end performance at the same time. The aircraft’s compact size will be an added advantage to landing on oil platforms.  Designed as a multi-mission helicopter aimed at addressing all major missions from offshore transportation, emergency medical services, search and rescue as well as other public service missions, the inherent flexibility of the H160 will suit all kinds of operations around the world.

Héli-Union currently operates a fleet of approximately 20 Airbus helicopters from the Dauphin, the H225, and the H145 families and maintains a wide range of Airbus Helicopters products for third parties such as civil or defence operators.

Héli-Union is a French operator and service provider with 60 years of experience in technical and logistical support to various civil and military organizations around the world. They are active in several markets: support of civil and state aircraft activities in France and abroad, operation of helicopters in various countries, as well as training of pilots and technicians. This experience allows Héli-Union to offer its customers a turnkey solution for the acquisition of new air assets and the deployment of air operations. Héli-Union is therefore positioned as a global partner, offering a wide range of services in order to support its customers in the implementation of air services.