Airbus Helicopters has secured several launch customers - including the Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation (NAAF) and New Zealand's Advanced Flight - for its new five-bladed H145 light-twin.

NAAF has ordered a single example for delivery in mid-2020, configured for aero-medical missions. The aircraft replaces the organisation's existing order for an EC145.

Advanced Flight, a charter and VIP operator, has ordered a five-blade ACH145 – a business- and private-aviation variant of the light-twin. Airbus will deliver that aircraft in the middle of next year, it says.

In addition, Ukraine's interior ministry will convert eight of the 10 H145s it has on order to the upgraded model.

H145 five blade 640

Airbus Helicopters

Airbus Helicopters unveiled the enhanced H145 at HAI Heli-Expo. The five-blade main rotor replaces the current four-blade design, giving the H145 an additional 150kg (331lb) of payload and bringing maximum take-off weight to 3,800kg.

Swiss air rescue operator Rega, meanwhile, has become launch customer of the H145 retrofit programme, with an order to modify the seven examples in its fleet.

Modifications require about 220h, says H145 programme head Axel Humpert.

Airbus Helicopters began testing the new five-blade rotor on an H135 in 2015, fitting the design to an H145 in August 2017.

The company has completed 150h of flight tests and expects to accumulate another 400h this year, with plans for European certification in "early 2020", followed by service entry later that year, it says.

Source: Flight International