Airbus Helicopters’ medium twin H160 received EASA type certification approval on July 1. The company said it is expecting FAA certification validation “shortly” before first delivery to an undisclosed U.S. customer later this year.
Airbus flew three prototype aircraft and employed two static versions for dynamic and systems testing over the course of a test program that accumulated more than 1,500 flight test hours in nearly five years. The multirole, 12-passenger (four to eight in executive configuration) H160 features noise-reducing Blue Edge main rotor blades and advanced Helionix avionics with safety features that include accrued pilot assistance and flight envelope protection.
Power comes from a pair of Safran Arrano 1A engines, each with 1,300 shp. The Arrano 1A features a two-stage centrifugal compressor and variable inlet guide vanes, which cut fuel consumption in all phases of flight and particularly at cruise power. They help propel the H160 to its estimated maximum cruise speed of 150 knots and service ceiling of 20,000 feet and give it a maximum range of 475 nm (no reserve, standard tanks). Airbus Helicopters said the Arrano will have lower maintenance costs than other engines in its class.
EASA certification director Rachel Daeschler called the H160 “one of the most environmentally friendly with respect to fuel consumption and one of the quietest helicopters of its class.”
The H160 also incorporates electrically activated landing gear and brakes in place of the traditional hydraulic systems, which trims some weight and improves reliability. A health usage and monitoring system tracks key maintenance parameters and can transmit them to technicians on the ground while the helicopter is in flight, when equipped with the proper datalink.
A military variant, the H160M, is due to enter service in 2026 with the French armed forces. Launch civil customer Babcock plans to use the H160 in both passenger/utility and EMS roles. Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) is marketing the helicopter for executive and VIP roles and last year announced the sale of an ACH160 to a European customer. Courtesy of AIN.