Airbus Helicopters’ presence at this year’s Heli-Expo showcased the company’s customer-focused transformation, with the unveiling its all-new H160 mid-sized rotorcraft, the introduction of the company’s enhanced customer services offer, and the announcement of new orders for operators in the U.S. and Europe.
The H160’s reveal on opening day was the most anticipated event at Heli-Expo 2015 in the Orange County Convention Center at Orlando, Florida, and attracting a worldwide audience via live on-line streaming coverage.
With its distinctive styling – which includes sleek airframe profiling, the all-new Biplane Stabilizer™, highly swept Blue Edge® main rotor blades, and a double-canted tail incorporating the largest-ever Fenestron® shrouded tail rotor – the H160’s highly refined look ushered in a new era of rotorcraft design and operational efficiency.
First flight of the H160 is planned later this year, followed by a targeted service entry beginning in 2018 for such mission applications as oil and gas operations; public services, air medical and coast guard duties; along with commercial transport, private and business aviation.
“Airbus Helicopters’ priorities of customer satisfaction, quality and safety, and competitiveness have been our drivers of success for this year’s show,” said Guillaume Faury, President & CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “Our teams are proud and excited to have introduced to the industry the H160, a helicopter which is a perfect example of what we mean when we say if it is important to our customers, it is essential to us.”
Airbus Helicopters also announced the new “H” designations across its product lines, symbolic of the company’s full integration in the Airbus Group and consistent with the numbering used by the Airbus commercial jetliner manufacturer.
And the “H” is not just for its product line: Airbus Helicopters rolled out its HCare Customer Service offer, with comprehensive coverage through commitments to quality and performance for enhanced customer satisfaction, operational availability and safety.
New business announced at Heli-Expo was led by Bristow Group’s more than tripling of its orders for Airbus Helicopters’ super-medium-sized H175, and the agreement of this leading helicopter services provider for a comprehensive support services agreement. Deliveries of Bristow’s H175s will begin in October 2016 for deployment in oil and gas operations.
The H135 saw a great success at the show, with signatures for 4 aircraft: Norsk luftambulanse AS signed an order for three H135s to further broaden its fleet of Airbus Helicopters-built rotorcraft operated in Norway and Denmark for emergency medical airlift; and DL Helicopter Technik signed for one H135 to be used for Army and Air Force pilot training in Germany.
Airbus Helicopters displayed on its booth the H145 for Dare County MedFlight, the North Carolina-based medical service provider that is the U.S. launch customer for this twin-engine rotorcraft’s T2 version.
The presence of a U.S. Army UH-72A Lakota, which was exhibited at Heli-Expo by the Florida National Guard, underscored the continuing demand for this version of Airbus Helicopters’ H145. The U.S. Army recently ordered 41 additional Lakotas, in addition to the 51 ordered in 2014. A total of 411 UH-72A helicopters have now been ordered light utility missions and pilot training, with 331 delivered on time and on budget.
Also announced at Heli-Expo was the completion of the first H125 (formally the AS350) in the United States, performed on the Airbus Helicopters, Inc. final assembly line in Columbus, Mississippi. This milestone rotorcraft is now in completion prior to delivery, meeting a schedule set nearly two years ago to establish a U.S. final assembly capability for the best-selling single-engine helicopter. During the show, Servicios Aéreos de los Andes signed for 3 H125s (1 firm + 2 options) for utility work in Peru.
Exhibited on the Airbus Helicopters’ Heli-Expo booth was a gold-themed H130 to celebrate the Papillon Group’s golden 50th anniversary. As the world’s largest and longest-operating aerial tour operator, Papillon Group has built its operations with a fleet of Airbus Helicopters rotorcraft.