A prototype of the new Airbus Helicopters H145D3 has arrived in Chile to begin high altitude testing in the Andes Mountains following preliminary high altitude testing in the French Pyrenees last summer. Some operators will be afforded the opportunity to fly the helicopter during the Chilean campaign.
Airbus revealed the H145D3 earlier this year at Heli-Expo in Atlanta. Scheduled for EASA certification in early 2020, the improved model features a new five-blade, foldable, and bearingless main rotor system; two Safran Arriel 2E engines with Fadec; four-axis autopilot with the Helionix digital avionics suite; and an integrated wireless airborne communication system (wACS). Cumulatively, the improvements will give the H145 an increased useful load of 330 pounds and boost maximum takeoff weight to 8,377 pounds.
The new rotor system provides a useful load equivalent to the H145’s empty weight, reduces maintenance requirements, improves reliability, and shrinks overall rotor disk diameter, enabling the aircraft to operate in more confined areas. The new foldable main blade system on the D3 takes only 10 minutes to stow/deploy. All blades fold backward within the span of the horizontal stabilizer by simply removing one bolt from each blade. The wACS wireless communications system will enable real-time data transmission from the helicopter, facilitating live health and usage monitoring.
The company plans to transition from the current H145 model, the D2, to the D3 throughout 2020 and end D2 production by the end of next year. D3 modifications will be available to D2 owners as a factory upgrade. That upgrade, which would take approximately 220 manhours to complete, will not be available for BK117 or EC145 models.