In a surprise move, Airbus Helicopters has terminated the AS365 N3e upgrade program for the Dauphin medium twin series.
“We'd rather focus on short delivery lead times and competitive prices for the AS365 N3+ and EC155 B1—the current Dauphin family—and the development of the X4,” a spokesperson told AIN. A protracted program, the N3e was to be certified by year-end, an Airbus Helicopters official had said in January. Demonstration flights with prospective customers had begun. The medium twin was to use an upgraded rotor head and reinforced main gearbox, changes that would have reduced direct maintenance costs by 10 percent and helped handle the increased power, according to the company. New features in the Turbomeca Arriel 2N turboshaft were to yield a 750-pound increase in mtow at ISA+20 conditions.
Airbus is carrying on with the military version, the AS565 MBe Panther, the first delivery of which is planned for 2017.
Meanwhile, the X4 prototype achieved “power on” early this month. The milestone involved a number of systems but not the engines.
Speaking at at an investor forum in London, CEO Guillaume Faury also confirmed the Dauphin successor will be unveiled at Heli-Expo 2015 and fly in the same year.