Airbus Helicopters has started the flight test campaign of the H175 in its public service configuration. This new variant expands the aircraft’s capabilities to include search and rescue (SAR), emergency medical services, law enforcement, firefighting and border security operations.
The first example, F-WWOJ, concluded the initial phase of the certification process in early October following 12 flights. Testing will resume again in December when two additional aircraft will join the programme, leading towards completion of the type certification process ahead of planned entry into service in late 2017. During the initial flight testing, the helicopter was demonstrated to launch customer Government Flying Service (GFS) of Hong Kong, which ordered seven examples in September 2015.
Captain Michael Chan, Controller Head of GFS commented: “I am extremely happy for this opportunity to fly the H175 in its new configuration. The aircraft offers excellent hovering capabilities and its high power margin makes it the ideal helicopter for carrying out SAR missions over land or sea. I was also particularly impressed by the human/machine interface, which significantly enhances flight safety as well as reducing pilot workload. The H175 has met my expectations and I cannot wait to receive the final product and to start operations,” he added.
Airbus Helicopters says one of the benefits of the public services variant is its inherent swing-role capabilities, enabling speedy and seamless re-configuration based on mission requirements. The 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 specific equipment also being fitted includes dual hoists, loudspeakers and a steerable searchlight.