Eurocopter upgrades Dauphin

 - January 28, 2010, 8:54 AM

Eurocopter has improved its Dauphin to offer more modern avionics and enhanced passenger comfort. Certification of the new model, dubbed the N3+, is pegged for late this year.

Visually on the outside, the medium twin will differ from the previous models, as the installation of new radar equipment has prompted a redesign of the nose, which will now resemble that of the EC155.

The Dauphin N3+ has the same Turbomeca engines–two Arriel 2Cs of 977 shp each–as its predecessor, but lighter equipment gives it better performance and a higher payload.

In the cockpit, the four-axis autopilot is now coupled with a mission computer and a Doppler radar navigation system, making the N3+ suitable for search-and-rescue operations. Customers can choose between two avionics suites. One is based on the Garmin GNS430, and the other one on the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21. Both will be compatible with satellite-based augmentation systems such as the U.S. Waas and Europe’s Egnos.

More options are available on the new model than on the N3. There are five VIP and four corporate cabin configurations, and each seat has its own display. Air conditioning has been improved, too, according to the Marignane, France-based airframer.

For pilot training, a flight simulator will be available in France next year. A second one will probably be added in Asia later.

The Dauphin N3+ sells for the same price–€6 to e12 million ($8.4 to $16.8 million), depending on options–as the N3, as a result of anticipated lower production costs. Manufacturing has been reorganized and final assembly has been reduced to about
17 weeks from 28 previously.