Airbus Helicopters reveals H145 PioneerLab flying laboratory


Airbus Helicopters has revealed its new twin-engine technology demonstrator, called PioneerLab, based on the H145 platform. The demonstrator will test technologies that reduce helicopter emissions, increase autonomy and integrate the use of bio-based materials.

Using a hybrid electric propulsion system and aerodynamic improvements, the PioneerLab aims to demonstrate a fuel reduction of up to 30% compared with a conventional H145. The helicopter will also flight-test structural components made from bio-based and recycled materials. This is intended to cut the environmental footprint across the aircraft life cycle.

Airbus Helicopters plans to produce new parts using processes that reduce material and energy consumption and improve recyclability. The manufacturer will also research the integration of the latest digital technologies into the aircraft’s flight control system and sensors to increase autonomy and safety during critical flight phases such as take-off and landing.

“With PioneerLab, we continue our ambitious strategy to test and mature new technologies on board our helicopter demonstrators,” said Tomasz Krysinski, head of Research and Innovation Programmes at Airbus Helicopters. “PioneerLab, which is based in Germany at our Donauwörth site, will be our platform to test technologies specifically dedicated to twin-engine helicopters.”

PioneerLab is co-funded by the BMWK, the Federal German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Actions through its national research programme LuFo. The project complements Airbus’ range of FlightLabs dedicated to providing test beds to evaluate new technologies. “They are part of the company’s strategy to bring incremental innovation to improve its current products and as well as to mature technology for future platforms,” according to the company.

PioneerLab’s flight test campaign has already begun at the manufacturer’s largest German site in Donauwörth, Bavaria, southern Germany. Its first project is to test a rotor strike alert system, which will be followed by evaluation of an automated take-off and landing system.