Airbus Helicopters is introducing instrument flight rules (IFR) capability for its H125 single-engine aircraft. Developed in partnership with Genesys Aerosystems, the upgrade could significantly improve the operational flexibility for missions such as law enforcement and emergency medical services. The partners expect to make it available in the second half of 2024.
The changes needed to free the H125 from the constraints of operating only under visual flight rules (VFR) will include an upgraded cockpit, a three-axis autopilot, and redundant hydraulic and electrical systems. Genesys (Booth B4113) has already installed the same autopilot under a supplemental type certificate on the larger Airbus H145 and also on Sikorsky’s UH-60A Blackhawk.
“We have seen some demand for IFR from customers and now we want to be ready to meet this demand,” Airbus Helicopters Inc., CEO Romain Trapp said during a Tuesday morning press conference at the Heli-Expo show. “It will enhance the all-weather capability of the aircraft and we want to reduce the number of days that you can’t fly, just as we did by introducing de-icing capability.”
Initial certification will go through the FAA for the U.S. market, followed by Brazil’s ANAC air safety agency. Airbus (Booth C2803) might subsequently apply for STCs in other markets, including Europe.
The IFR upgrade is the latest in a series of investments Airbus has made in enhancing its single-engine aircraft. Last year, the manufacturer increased the power of the model to boost payload by 120 kg (264 pounds) in hot-and-high operating conditions.
“Thanks to its recent innovations, the H125 remains an unrivaled product in terms of performance and value for money,” said Jérome Ronssin, head of light helicopter programs at Airbus. “This new IFR feature will expand the helicopter’s mission capabilities in all weather conditions, especially for critical missions such as public services, including law enforcement, emergency medical services, and enhanced training—all missions that are in high demand worldwide, and in particular in North America.”
There are now almost 4,200 H125s in service worldwide. In 2022, Airbus logged 161 new orders for the type, including 39 in North America.