Enstrom Helicopter unveiled a mockup of a new, low-cost, two-seat, piston-powered trainer on the opening day of Heli-Expo 2014. The TH-180 is a scaled-down version of the company’s popular FX-280 three-seat model. Company officials said the TH-180 should post direct operating costs of $175 per hour and an hourly fuel burn of less than 12 gph. The launch price is $365,000. It will be powered by the 210-hp Lycoming HIO-390 and feature an engine governor and electric clutch switch. First flight is anticipated this summer and certification is targeted for 2015.
Compared with the 280, the TH-180 has more robust landing gear and weighs 500 pounds less, about 2,250 pounds maximum gross weight, said Enstrom CEO Tracy Biegler. “We basically scaled an F model,” he said. He called the market for the TH-180 “huge.”
Biegler said the that Enstrom’s new expanded production plant in Menominee, Mich., has the capacity to build 100 TH-180s per year. The company’s new owner, the Chongqing Helicopter Investment Co., (CQHIC) contributed engineering assistance on the pylon and tailcone modeling, he said, adding that setting up an Enstrom production line in China for the Chinese market is a long-term goal of CQHIC and that any such arrangement would involved reassembling Enstrom components there into completed helicopters, provided the process could be done efficiently and safety.
Biegler said that Enstrom (Booth No. 8422) is focused on bringing the TH-180 to market as opposed to a follow-on product for the Model 480, the company’s turbine helicopter, at this time.