Airbus Helicopters is here promoting the H145 light twin, on the heels of a demo tour in April and after Mexico-based Pegaso signed up as the first Latin American customer in June. The European manufacturer’s Brazilian subsidiary Helibras (Booth 5104) flew an H145 on a tour of cities throughout the country.
The Airbus sales team sees a potential for the H145 in the Brazilian oil-and-gas sector. They point out that the H145’s tolerance for extreme conditions–temperatures up to ISA+20C, to a maximum of +50C–makes it suitable for “in-shore exploration” in the vast Amazon region.
At the Paris Air Show, the framework agreement with Transportes Aéreos Pegaso suggested that the operator could place its first firm order in the coming months. Deliveries would then begin in 2016 and continue for seven years. Pegaso’s H145s will be configured for the company’s primary mission of providing airlift services to the energy industry, with a focus on Gulf of Mexico oil and gas activity.
The first example of the H145 (formerly known as the EC145 T2) was delivered in July 2014, to German emergency medical operator DRF Luftrettung. In addition to air rescue organizations and oil and gas support, customers were found for applications such as police and corporate transportation.
The enhanced EC145 features a shrouded Fenestron tailrotor for improved safety on the ground, upgraded engines and new avionics. The Helionix avionics suite was developed in house with a goal of helping the pilot looking outside rather than focusing on instruments. A four-axis autopilot is offered as standard.
The Arriel 2E turboshaft has a Fadec and is more powerful than its predecessor, at 894 shp. As a result, fuel burn has increased but the payload-range diagram is kept unchanged thanks to a 3-4 percent larger fuel tank.
On the contrary, direct maintenance costs are pledged to be reduced by 8-10 percent. They are thus claimed to more than offset the higher fuel consumption. First, engine time between overhaul is improved, as it targets 6,000 hours, up from 3,500 flight hours for the previous-generation turboshaft. Then, the more modern avionics should help streamline the shop visit schedule, thanks to exhaustive maintenance data analysis.
The H145 is also available in a military version, the H145M. At the request of the first customer, the German army, it was certified by European authorities (EASA) in May.
The month before, the utility version, the EC145, also received its EASA certification. Formerly referred to as EC145e, the lower-cost variant is more basic than the H145. It has a conventional tail rotor and its pair of 738 shp Turbomeca Arriel 1E2s do not have a Fadec (full authority digital engine control) system. The EC145 offers a 322 lb higher payload, compared to the previous utility variant of the same helicopter.
It incorporates a Garmin G500H avionics suite. Usually found on smaller helicopters, this also gives better cockpit visibility for the pilot, as it frees up a large part of the left windshield. No automatic flight control system is available.
The EC145 is approved for single-pilot, day and night operation in visual flight rules (VFR), but IFR operations are not permitted.
Airbus has received orders for 170 airframes, 145 of the H145 and 25 of the H145M. Thirty H145s have been delivered and the first H145M will be handed over in December. Only one order has been received for the utility EC145.