Eurocopter kicked off this year’s Helitech with a two-day flight demonstration event held at its Oxford airport headquarters, shortly before the show opened.
Designed to showcase products at the lighter end of its range, the airframer had three aircraft present to perform flights for customers – an EC130T2 light single, an EC135 light twin and the latest variant of the EC145 medium twin, the T2.
The latter helicopter is still undergoing certification trials ahead of planned approval and first delivery in the second quarter of next year. Changes over the previous iteration include the addition of an enclosed fenestron tail rotor, more powerful Turbomeca Arriel 2E engines and Eurocopter’s proprietary Helionix avionics suite.
Experimental test pilot Diethelm Berndt says the most noticeable difference is the amount of power available in the EC145T2, pointing to a rate of climb of around 2,000ft/min.
“With this, departing from a confined area will not be a problem,” he says.
Pitched firmly at the parapublic sector, the T2 comes with a number of new features designed specifically for police or ambulance missions. This includes a flight mode Eurocopter calls GTC-H, which enables the helicopter to maintain position with no pilot input and allow better tracking of objects on the ground using any installed imaging systems.
“It provides an extremely stable platform for an optical device,” says Berndt. “It is full of these little ideas that are derived from practical police work, which are designed to optimise safety.”
One area yet to be finalised, however, is the vibration damping system on the type, with active and passive systems both under consideration. Eurocopter is working out which will offer the most efficiency “without adding too much weight” says Berndt.
The backlog for the EC145T2 stands at about 90 aircraft, says Eurocopter, including a 25-unit commitment from German emergency medical services operator DRF.
UK orders include a pair for the Scottish air ambulance service and a further example to perform the same mission in East Anglia. All three aircraft will be operated by Bond Helicopters.