Paris Air Show: Airbus bullish about H160 turnaround
Airbus Helicopters is employing digital technologies to ensure its new H160 medium helicopter spends significantly less time on the production line than its predecessor.
The twin-engine H160 will only spend two months on the final assembly line compared with the Dauphin, which spent five months in production, Guillaume Faury, CEO at Airbus Helicopters, told journalists at a recent media day.
‘The H160 will only spend 40 days on the final assembly line - that’s eight weeks - compared with 22 weeks for the helicopter its replacing, the Dauphin.’ Faury commented.
Faury noted that the timeline reduction had been assisted by the ‘digital shop floor’ being utilised by the company, resulting in no paperwork and allowing maintenance staff to see the progress of the aircraft in real-time. Robots are also utilised on the assembly line for certain tasks.
Six hundred H160 parts will be assembled on the production line, substantially fewer than the 1,500 parts involved in the assembly of the Dauphin.
The platform will be quite the European model – a Eurocopter if you will. The company’s facility in Donauworth, Germany is responsible for the aircraft’s fuselage and the composite airframe.
In Marignane, France the centre will take care of the rotorcraft’s dynamic components, meaning its transmissions and rotor heads.
The blades will be the responsibility of the company’s centre in the north of France just outside Paris, while the company’s facility in Spain will be in charge of assembling the tail boom.
While last year may have seen the lowest order intake in more than a decade, Faury said the company remained the market leaders in the commercial market.
‘With our wide range of competitive birds in 2016, [we saw ourselves] as the market leaders with 40% of the market share in the civil market,’ he said.
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