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​Heli-Expo 2017: H160 testing progresses

6th March 2017 - 12:00 GMT | by Helen Haxell in Marignane

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Airbus Helicopters' H160 is on track with its build and testing regime, and is on schedule for certification in 2018.

It is expected that the launch customer for the H160 will sign the contract at the end of 2017 while prototype flight testing is currently underway in the Alps.

A prototype has also spent some time in a climatic chamber in Vienna, Austria, as part of a demonstration to experience extreme weather tests in cold and hot temperatures.

The weather tests helped prepare the aircraft for a cold weather testing campaign, which is being performed now at Yellowstone, Canada. Ten flights at -35 degrees celsius have been performed so far, accruing 15 flight hours.

The PT3 is currently being assembled and will be available for flight testing in the summer of 2017.

Prior to flying, the aircraft will be used for testing the indirect effect of lightening on the composite airframe. As a result of this, attention will be paid to the protection of the avionics suite in this event.

Bernard Fujarski, SVP of the H160 programme at Airbus Helicopters, explained that the H160's tail boom will be assembled and tested in Albacete, Spain. The main fuselage will be produced and equipped with flight controls, fuel systems and harnesses in Donauworth, Germany

He said the lead time for the aircraft on the assembly line will be around six months.

'The assembly line lead time will be very short because we expect to spend around 24 weeks; from the day when the customer configuration will be known to the day when they [the customer] will be flying away in their helicopter,' said Fujarski.

Franck Dessenis, VP of H160 programme at Airbus Helicopters, explained that for VIP version to be the best in the market, the company will be required to 'think like the customer'.

'We give the customer extensive choice for customisation with the details like stitching… We are pushing the H175 VIP standard with the H160. Pegasus Design is the same designer for both aircraft but we are using the foundations to take the H160 to the next level,' Dessenis commented.

When asked about the Blue Edge blades heightening the aircraft's performance, Fujarksi noted that the blades were developed in relation to reducing the noise caused by the blades to 3dB.

'We have discovered the fact that they are also providing additional lift [within the payload] of 100kg when compared with a straight blade,' Fujarski said.

It is anticipated that 50 aircraft will be produced per year.

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