Airbus demonstrates H145 in various offshore roles
Airbus Helicopters has recently taken a demonstrator H145 helicopter to the German coast to demonstrate the fenestron-tail aircraft in a variety of different roles.
Working with operators familiar with the challenges of the North Sea, Airbus carried out demo flights including marine pilot transfer, wind turbine support and cargo transport. In late January, the H145 flew with Wiking Helikopter Service and HTM Offshore to show its capabilities.
“One of our main activities is the transfer of harbour pilots via helicopter in any kind of weather conditions 24×7” explains Lars Hilgert, Wiking’s Chief Flight Coordinator. “Marine pilots navigate ships safely in and out of German harbours. In most cases these pilots are brought onto the moving ships using the winch. This process requires the utmost attention of the helicopter’s pilot and crew“, he added. “We are very positively surprised with the intuitive Helionix® cockpit of the H145 and its 4-axis autopilot with auto-hover function. These systems contribute to the helicopter’s high levels of safety in every scenario. At the same time the workload of the crew is reduced, allowing them to safely accomplish their mission even in the harshest of weathers“.
The flights with Wiking also included the EMS role. “Our rescue helicopters are constantly on stand-by for offshore HEMS. Every unit is staffed with a doctor and an assistant and ready to embark on a mission in a minimum amount of time. The H145 would qualify perfectly for these missions, given that it features tremendous levels of performance and a spacious cabin“, explained Alexander von Plato, Managing Director at Wiking Helicopter Service.
Wiking currently operates three AgustaWestland AW139s, three Sikorsky S76s and one hoist-equipped AgustaWestland AW109S Grand.
The flight test programme also included other missions such as wind-farm support, using the Alpha Ventus installation of 12 turbines and its central transformer platform, which has its own helipad. Flights included hoisting technicians on/off the turbines in somewhat typical winter North Sea winds of up to 50 knots.
“HTM Offshore is specialised in the transfer of service personnel in the wind industry” says Bernd Brucherseifer, Managing Director at HTM Offshore. “The technicians are increasingly used for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance missions on wind turbines, for instance if the turbine is not, or hardly accessible by ship due to rough waters. With wind parks emerging increasingly further away from the coastline we are reliant on a versatile but also efficient helicopter fleet. The H145 would be an ideal addition to our 11 Airbus Helicopters H135, as it can carry more passengers and travel for longer distances. Despite its spacious cabin the main rotor has a very small diameter, making it perfectly suited for approaching wind turbines.”
A total of 11,500 hours have been flown by the global H145 fleet since the first delivery in July 2014, with an availability of over 90%. The fleet numbers 53 helicopters in 14 nations, predominantly in the EMS market.