H160 coming to Heli-Expo
The Airbus H160 Prototype will be on display at Heli-Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada next week – marking the first time the prototype helicopter has been on display at an international airshow.
The prototype model from the new H generation series will be on display for the first time, after being unveiled at Heli-Expo in 2015, before setting off on a three-month demo tour across the US.
Entry into service is planned for 2019. The new model has been brought in to fill the gap between the eight-passenger light-utility H145 and the super-medium class H175.
Ben Bridge, executive vice president for global business, said: “This aircraft is emblematic of the company’s transformation in every domain from concept and design to the revamped industrial-production model. This enables enhanced industrial maturity from entry into service, capitalising on key digital technologies for greater customer support and maintenance.
“All of this has been done with our customers’ priorities in mind, and we are excited that they will get to experience the H160 shortly with the US demo tour kicking off after the show.”
There are three H160 prototypes conducting test flights right now. The third prototype made its first flight in October last year. The three prototypes have together clocked up more than 550 flight-test hours since the first prototype’s maiden flight in June 2015.
Late to the game?
Airbus plans to launch two variants of the H160 in 2019: the first a passenger-transport version for commercial air and oil and gas transport and; the second an emergency medical-services version. The VIP variant is scheduled for 2021. The H160’s assembly line in Marignane, France is in the final stages of preparation and is ready to start serial production soon.
The H160 comes to the market to compete with similar new-generation, medium-class offerings such as Leonardo’s AW169.
Launched back in 2015, the AW169 has seen success across a number of different helicopter markets. Leonardo signed two separate AW169 deals at the Singapore Airshow earlier this month. The helicopter has had a successful launch, selling more than 170 units worldwide. Early order numbers for the H160 are not known but it will be interesting to see how it compares with Leonardo’s latest.