Eurocopter upgrades EC225 for offshore ops

 - August 2, 2010, 5:38 AM

Eurocopter EC225 Super Pumas manufactured next year will feature a series of upgrades in avionics, search-and-rescue (SAR) equipment and passenger comfort that will come standard in the offshore version of the medium twin.

Thierry Mauvais, Eurocopter’s oil and gas marketing director, told AIN, “Some oil companies advertise to their employees the level of comfort their helicopter operators provide”–good reason to invest in developing better passenger seat designs, he noted. The EC225’s new seats will thus offer better back support and, thanks to a cushioned section behind the nape of the neck, a more comfortable neck position for a passenger wearing a survival suit, Mauvais said.

Mickael Melaye, another marketing specialist, said new foams have better elasticity and wear resistance. In addition, the designers have endeavored to provide more obstacle-free legroom. The pilots’ seats are being improved in terms of cushion comfort and durability.

 In the cockpit, the 2011 EC225 will be equipped with an ADS-B transponder and the traffic collision avoidance system (Tcas 2) will be coupled with the autopilot. The latter will feature a groundspeed mode (see AIN, June 2010).

As Eurocopter enhances the standard level of equipment in the EC225, the helicopter gets closer to meeting the requirements for search-and-rescue operations. The 2011 iteration will thus be easily reconfigurable into a “light SAR” version, boosting the fleet’s flexibility, said Mauvais. 

For example, while the new EC225 won’t have a 360-degree radar, with groundspeed mode the autopilot is similar in functionality to a dedicated SAR system. Technicians will just have to install a hoist, infrared camera and searchlight for the light SAR role, an investment of only a few hours. Even the new flight simulators will have dual-passenger transport/SAR capability.

 Most of the 2011 upgrades are retrofittable to in-service EC225s. Installation time depends on the existing wiring–the older the aircraft, the less existing wiring.