This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Airbus Helicopters is poised to receive French government financial support to develop a hybrid powerplant for its H125 single. The financing is part of a $17 billion emergency infusion into the domestic aerospace industry triggered by the Covid-19 crisis. Beneficiaries include Airbus, Air France, Dassault, Safran, and Thales, and the aid is contingent on the recipients investing in environmentally “green” projects, including more efficient and lower-emission propulsion. The assistance also includes orders for 20 current-production Airbus helicopters including eight H225Ms, 10 H160s, and two H145s.
Support for the hybrid project is part of France’s €300 million funding earmarked for aerospace research and development projects. The “Helybrid” H125 project appears to build on a previous program that incorporated backup electric propulsion into the slightly larger Airbus H130. The H130 shares a number of common drivetrain components with the H125. Revealed last year, the hybrid H130 is being developed in cooperation with Thales (electric motor) and Adeneo (electric converters). The hybrid H125 is targeting a 40 percent reduction in fuel consumption. A hydrogen-powered version is expected to fly by 2029.
Meanwhile, an Airbus spokesman told AIN that it still plans to receive EASA type certification approval for its H160 medium twin this year, although later than originally anticipated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.