Airbus Helicopters is to boost the safety of its H125 and H130 with several initiatives designed to improve the uptake of crash resistant fuel systems on the light-singles.
From 2020, all H125s built at the airframer's Marignane facility in the south of France will automatically be fitted with a CRFS – which is designed to prevent fire in the event of an accident – unless an operator specifically requests otherwise.
That move will bring France-built H125s into line with those assembled at the manufacturer’s US production line in Columbus, Mississippi. The H130 is also fitted with a CRFS as standard.
“We believe we already have a very safe aircraft, but we believe we can do more on this topic,” said Axel Aloccio, head of intermediate single programmes at Airbus Helicopters, speaking in Marignane ahead of HAI Heli-Expo.
In addition, the airframer will extend its existing supplementary type certifications (STC) for the CRFP to the AS350 B3 and EC130 B4 – earlier variants of the current models – to “accelerate the retrofit” of the in-service fleet.
Such a modification will be done at cost, which is about €35,000 ($39,600), says Aloccio. That price will also apply to retrofit work on operational H125s.
There have been several high-profile cases in the USA where helicopters without a CRFS installed burst into flames after a crash.
However, Aloccio denies the fear of legal action or bad publicity is behind the move. “We think it is a good safety system and we have to do whatever is in our hands to ensure [our customers] take the right decision.”
European and US approvals for the STC extension should be achieved later this year, with deliveries of the kits from early 2020.
In addition, Airbus Helicopters is to develop a crash-resistant rear bench seat for the H125, which will be available next year.