Airbus Helicopters has fitted the first pre-serial H160 helicopter with its rear fuselage at its factory in Marignane, France. Pre-assembled in Albacante, Spain, leveraging the company’s site-specialization strategy, the component joined the main fuselage, which arrived from the company’s facilities in Donauworth, Germany, earlier this year.
The company plans to assemble 10 pre-serial aircraft in a progressive fashion that fine-tunes its industrial process. As the process matures, Airbus expects assembly lead times to decrease to 40 days at the full production rate.
According to Airbus, first delivery of the H160 will occur next year. Entry into service was originally scheduled for the end of this year, but this was pushed out "due to problems encountered on some mechanical parts that had to be redesigned," according to Bernard Fujarski, the head of the H160 program. Simultaneous European EASA and U.S. FAA certification is anticipated later this year.
This twin-turbine helicopter has a maximum takeoff weight of 5.67 metric tons (12,566 pounds) and 850-km (450-nautical-mile) range. Positioned in the "medium" segment, the H160 was unveiled at the U.S. Heli-Expo show in March 2015. It will offer a fuel burn 15 percent lower than that of the Dolphin H155 family, the model that the H160 replaces.