Airbus Helicopters will reveal the shape of its new 4-6t family of X4 helicopters at the next Heli-Expo show in Orlando, Florida, early in 2015, the company’s chief executive said at the ILA Berlin air show. The aircraft, which has been in development for several years, is intended as a replacement for the Dauphin family of machines.
The company revealed in February that several major components of the X4, including the five-bladed main rotor, gearbox and engines are under test.
An all-composite rotorcraft, the X4 will have a choice of powerplants – Turbomeca’s new 1,100shp Arrano 1A turboshaft and Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW210.
“We will show the X4 at Heli-Expo next year,” says chief executive Guillaume Faury. “We will freeze the major elements. We will reveal the X4 mock-up and start discussing with customers about placing this helicopter.”
Asked whether the new machine would be a direct replacement for the 4.5t AS365 Dauphin or the newer 4.9t EC155, Faury says the X4 would slot into the Dauphin segment, “but this segment has moved a bit”. The X4 will have “much more capability”, he adds.
Faury also confirms that from July all new-build EC225s and EC725s will be delivered with the redesigned bevel gear vertical shaft in the main gearbox. Failure of this component was pinpointed as the cause of two 2012 ditchings in the North Sea, incidents that led to led to a ban on overwater flights and most of the 11t type’s global fleet being grounded for around 10 months.
All existing EC225s and EC725s are being retrofitted with the new shaft.
The ditchings had caused a crisis, says Faury, but milestones for the rest of this year will be much more positive. These include certification of the EC135 T3/P3, with improved performance and greater payload. Modifications included a 20cm greater diameter main rotor providing increased lift, enhanced-efficiency engine air intakes and new full authority digital engine control software, upgrading the engine rating.
The second half of this year will also see initial deliveries of the recently-certificated EC145 T2 (pictured). The company plans to deliver more than 20 by the end of the year.