Eurocopter unveiled the EC130 T2, the updated version of its single-engine EC130 at Heli-Expo yesterday, and announced orders for 105 of the aircraft from seven launch customers. They include: Maverick Helicopters, Papillon Helicopters, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Scandinavian Helicopter Group, Air Commander, Europavia and Enloe FlightCare.
“Innovation is something that is key for us. Innovation is creating customer value,” said Lutz Bertling, president and CEO of the Marignane, France-based company, in introducing the aircraft. “The EC130 T2 is the latest step in Eurocopter’s strategy to expand and evolve our helicopter lineup. The high number of orders is proof that Eurocopter innovation is perfectly aligned with customers’ requirements and the evolution of their operations.”
The EC130 T2 is powered by the Turbomeca Arriel 2D engine, which provides 10 percent more average power and lower specific fuel consumption than the current powerplant, and has a higher time between overhaul (TBO) interval. New and updated features include an active vibration-control system, improved air ventilation, distribution and demisting systems, a redesigned cabin interior with full flat floor, and enhanced man-machine interface in the cockpit. New energy-absorbing seats and a crashworthy fuel tank provide safety enhancements. About 70 percent of the EC130 T2’s airframe has been modified.
Performance improvements include a higher maximum gross takeoff weight (2,500 kg – 5,512 pounds – for internal loads and 3,050 kg – 6,724 pounds – with sling loads) and a speed increase of up to 10 knots. External sound level remains within the rules mandated for flights in Grand Canyon National Park, an important benchmark for air tour operators.
Air-tour company Maverick Helicopter, which currently flies the world’s largest fleet of EC130s, accounted for 50 of the orders for the newest Eurocopter model. Maverick was among the operators Eurocopter asked to provide input on the new variant’s development, and Maverick president John Buch was on hand for the unveiling, as were representatives for five other launch customers.
“The day we flew it, we said, ‘You hit it on the head 100 percent,’” Buch told attendees at the unveiling. Blue Hawaiian and Papillon each signed for 20 aircraft. Neither pricing for the new aircraft nor the value of the launch customers’ purchases were made public.
Optional features include new-generation air conditioning, tinted windshield and a right-side sliding passenger door.
Future development plans for the EC130 T2 call for a 1,500-kg (3,307-pound) cargo sling and Eurocopter’s Stylence interior, which merges ergonomics and advanced technology.
Bertling pointed to the range of missions of the launch customers–air tour, transport, utility, and EMS–as further proof of the aircraft’s appeal to the single-engine helicopter market, predicting that the model “will set the standard for single-engine helicopters for years to come.”