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Airbus Helicopters has reached new heights: the latest version of the H145 has set its skids down on the Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, culminating at 6,962 meters (22,840 feet). This is the first time a twin-engine helicopter has landed at this altitude, confirming the performance and the extensive flight envelope of the new H145.
The conditions for this mission were extreme, due to the atmospheric conditions in the area and the winter season. The aircraft took off from Mendoza, Argentina, flew 30 minutes to the foot of the Aconcagua where it began its ascension. After 15 minutes of climbing, the helicopter landed at 1:45 p.m. on the summit, at a temperature of -22 C. The crew onboard the helicopter consisted of Alexander Neuhaus, experimental test pilot and Antoine van Gent, experimental flight test engineer.
“We had to stay focused on the mission due to severe winds with gusts up to 30 knots and the low air density. The handling qualities of the new H145 are excellent and combined with Helionix and its four-axis autopilot, we reached the summit safely,” said Neuhaus. “The aircraft performed outstandingly. We flew over the summit of the Aconcagua and still had power reserves that would have allowed us take two people on-board.”
The flight test was supported by the Fuerza Aerea Argentina, who provided aerial support with their Lama helicopters; Patrulla de Rescate de Alta Montaña de Policia de Mendoza, who assisted with a contingency plan; Parque Provincial Aconcagua, facilitating operations and logistics, and Helicopters AR, a local operator with over 15 years of experience flying in the Aconcagua area with their Airbus H125 helicopter.