AIRBUS HELICOPTERS has begun the flight test campaign for the public services variant of the H175 medium twin-engine helicopter. The company announced on October 12, at Helitech in Amsterdam that an initial flight-test campaign had been successfully concluded after 12 flights. This included a demonstration carried out with launch customer Hong Kong’s Government Flying Service (GFS) which, as previously reported in AFMD, placed an order for seven of this new variant in September 2015.
Flight-testing of the public services variant will resume in December, with two additional aircraft to support the certification process ahead of a planned entry into service in late 2017.
Captain Michael Chan, Controller Head of GFS, said: “I am extremely happy for this unique opportunity to fly the H175 in public services configuration. The aircraft offers excellent hovering capabilities and high power margin that make it the ideal helicopter to carry out SAR missions over land or sea. I am particularly impressed by the Human Machine Interface, which significantly enhances flight safety and reduces pilot workload. The H175 has met my expectations in every way and I can’t wait to receive the final product to start operations.”
The public services variant has swing-role capabilities, enabling speedy and seamless re-configuration, based on mission requirements. The wide range of missions that can be performed include SAR operations, emergency medical services, firefighting, law enforcement and land/maritime border security patrols.
Marc Allongue, Head of the H175 programme, said: “This initial flight-test campaign has demonstrated that the H175 retains its excellent handling characteristics, cabin comfort, smooth ride and low noise levels while dramatically enlarging its mission capabilities”.
GFS’ H175s will have a built-in electro-optical system for observation and tracking, along with an enhanced digital map display, both managed from an operator’s console in the cabin. Other mission equipment includes dual hoists, loudspeakers and a steerable searchlight. The H175’s autopilot will incorporate additional advanced modes to further decrease pilot workload during complicated SAR operations.
Airbus Helicopters has also certified the Automatic Pilot SAR modes for the H175 oil and gas configuration, enabling O&G customers to also perform certain SAR missions with their helicopter.