Airbus: A Focus On Innovation

Avatar for Vertical MagVertical Mag | May 3, 2023

Estimated reading time 8 minutes, 39 seconds.

The global commercial helicopter market is on a path to recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic that shook the industry and its supply chain. Airbus Helicopters is evolving with the market, meeting the needs of its customers so they can continue to perform essential missions.

The company has risen to the challenge, implementing a global transformation plan to improve how it designs, produces, and maintains the current fleet of Airbus helicopters all while preparing for the future.

From digitalization, to enhanced safety and upgraded performance, Airbus’s approach encompasses a range of missions and conditions that its partners and operators face every day. Airbus aims to help its customers make the world a safer place, unite people who are passionate about helicopters, and constantly innovate to create quieter and cleaner rotorcraft.

Desruptive Lab 1th flight, with Samuel CHARTIER,Experimental Test Pilot, and Alain DELAVET, Flight Test Ingineer, at Airbus Helicopters, Marignane.

At this year’s HAI Heli-Expo, showgoers can see first-hand how Airbus is pioneering sustainable aerospace for a safe and united world. Its H160 will be on display, alongside the versatile H125, and the tailored ACH130 Aston Martin edition, not to mention a dedicated innovation experience and Airbus’s efficient support and services solutions.

Airbus’s next-generation helicopter, the H160, has gained ground as a key addition to a variety of customers’ fleets, entering into service in Japan, Brazil and across Europe. With orders in mission segments ranging from search-and-rescue, to law enforcement, to public services, and private and business aviation, the aircraft is also set to become a crucial partner in the energy sector, supporting operators and customers, such as PHI and Shell.

Incorporating as many as 68 patents, the H160’s value-add across the entire range of mission segments notably resides in its innovative, safety-enhancing design. Featuring the brightest cabin of its class, and equipped with a vortex pre-alerting feature, as well as cutting-edge automation modes, the H160 enables crew members to focus on crucial tasks and drastically reduces pilot workload.

Customer centricity is paramount to meeting each operator’s distinctive needs and requirements, especially for support and services. The addition of ZF Luftfahrttechnik to Airbus Helicopters’ portfolio at the end of 2022 is a prime example of how the company is broadening its range of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities, and securing additional competences in dynamic systems — notably for the H135 and H145 helicopters.

Airbus strives to integrate customers’ feedback every step along the way, and reshaping its support solutions is testimony to this commitment. After launching an updated HCare offer at Heli-Expo 2022, customers now have access to three flexible solutions to support them from the day their new helicopter enters service until the end of its life. Thanks to a suite of digital tools and step-by-step assistance, Airbus Helicopters brings in new solutions that match operators’ needs, easing rotorcraft maintenance while optimizing its health and usage.

Innovation remains a key focus at Airbus Helicopters. In December 2022, Airbus unveiled its DisruptiveLab, a new demonstrator that will enable the company to further test technologies that reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 50 percent. With the goal to evaluate a new aerodynamic architecture intended to reduce fuel consumption, as well as pursue the implementation of hybridization, the DisruptiveLab kicked off its flight test campaign in January 2023.

Reducing the carbon footprint of its aircraft is equally served by its efforts to make advanced air mobility a reality. After selecting partners for the CityAirbus NextGen’s structural components, the eVTOL aircraft is now getting closer to its testing phase. To prepare for entry into service, Airbus has partnered with a series of major industrial and institutional players, including Chile-based operator Ecocopter, Italian flag carrier ITA Airways, and Japanese operator Hiratagakuen, to create the necessary ecosystems to launch this new mobility service across continents.

Airbus’s unwavering priority is to help countries protect their citizens and make their critical missions possible. Suited for intensive care transport and designed to comply with the requirements set by national medical regulatory agencies, the five-bladed H145 has become a game-changer for medical services providers.

When it comes to saving lives, helicopters provide an unparalleled advantage to intervene within the “golden hour.” The H145 is just the right fit, with its spacious cabin, increased payload, and eased maintenance process, overall improving the helicopter’s performance and availability.

Meanwhile, the H125 is also making a difference for law enforcement customers. Less than a year after the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department ordered two H125s, both aircraft have been delivered and placed in service — further evidence of how the H125 has become an important lever to help make the world a safer place.

With its versatility and maneuverability, the helicopter is well-adapted to a variety of public service operations, including surveillance, search-and-rescue, and command and control. The rotorcraft benefits from bespoke equipment to meet the most demanding police mission requirements. Night vision goggle-compatible instruments, searchlights, hoist, high-resolution camera (optical sensor) with mapping system, and wire strike protection are just a few of the available additions to the H125’s law enforcement configuration.

Airbus has also made it a mission to unite people who are passionate about helicopters, and support those who fly them. The elegant ACH130 Aston Martin edition is proof of how Airbus Corporate Helicopters is rising to the challenge of providing private and business aviation customers with a tailored flight experience. Designed in partnership with luxury automobile manufacturer Aston Martin, the ACH130 provides increased comfort and refined aesthetics, while integrating the company’s latest innovations to improve safety of flight and support customers in taking a step toward reduced carbon emissions, with 10 percent more power and lower fuel consumption.

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