Eurocopter to introduce a new era in helicopter flight
March 8, 2011, Marignane, Fra. - Eurocopter will unveil its newest helicopter and launch a comprehensive enhancement of the existing product line at Heli-Expo 2011 exposition in Orlando, Florida, underscoring the company’s commitment to innovation for the improved operating performance, efficiency and maintainability of its rotary-wing aircraft.
By Carey Fredericks
The new helicopter is to be revealed at Eurocopter’s exhibit stand (#4637) at 11:30 a.m. on the March 6 opening day of Heli-Expo 2011, during a ceremony led by Eurocopter President & CEO Lutz Bertling. Agreements with multiple launch customers also will be announced.
Enhancements for Eurocopter’s product line involve multiple members of its helicopter family. All improvements introduced on these rotary-wing aircraft – which carry the “e” designation for “enhanced” – are designed to significantly augment their cost-effectiveness, mission capability and ease of operation.
“Our continued commitment to invest in innovation has enabled Eurocopter to launch the newest member of our helicopter family while implementing in parallel significant evolutions of Eurocopter’s inventory, which will provide more capable products for customers and further improve our and their competiveness,” said Bertling.
Featured on Eurocopter’s Heli-Expo 2011 exhibit stand is one of these enhanced helicopters – the single-engine AS350 B3e, which is being shown in its corporate/VIP configuration. The updated version of Eurocopter’s best-selling Ecureuil family incorporates a more powerful Turbomeca Arriel 2D turboshaft engine, along with a new-generation digital FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) and an engine data recorder for condition monitoring.
The AS350 B3e features an improved interior design, as well as tail rotor modifications for additional ease of piloting. It also has the option of operating at the maximum takeoff engine power rating for 30 minutes, and can be equipped with optional engine filters for additional protection during flight in sand and snow conditions without weight penalty. Certification of the AS350 B3e is targeted for this summer, with deliveries beginning before year-end.
Also spotlighted at Heli-Expo will be a full-scale mockup of Eurocopter’s latest helicopter product – the EC175, displayed in its configuration for oil and gas transportation missions. Flight testing with two EC175 prototypes has surpassed the 100-flight hour milestone, demonstrating the aircraft’s excellent handling qualities and low internal vibration levels. The initial production helicopter for this seven-metric-ton rotary-wing aircraft – being developed in a joint program with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) – is currently being assembled at Eurocopter’s facility in Marignane, France. The first EC175 deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2012, following type certification.
Included as well on the Eurocopter Heli-Expo 2011 exhibit stand will be an EC130 B4 helicopter in the emergency medical services (EMS) configuration, and an EC135 with a corporate/VIP cabin arrangement.
Another element of Eurocopter’s Heli-Expo 2011 presence will highlight achievements with the company’s innovative X3 hybrid helicopter demonstrator, which has attained a true airspeed of 180 kt (333 km/hr) in level flight during its first phase of testing. The second phase will begin in the coming months, with the goal of achieving sustained cruise speeds in excess of 220 kt. The X3 is a key element in Eurocopter’s innovation roadmap, providing a system tailored to applications where operational costs, flight duration and mission success depend directly on the maximum cruising speed. With an increase in cruise speed of more than 50% and life cycle costs not climbing more than 25 per cent, the X³ will be an extremely productive solution for our customers.