H160 Airbus Helicopter Fuses Efficiency and Performance

By Paul Joseph

When it comes to helicopter design and construction, Airbus have earned a reputation that places them at the pinnacle of innovation.

This standing was further enhanced last year with the launch of the H160, a remarkable new model billed as raising the standards for performance, cost effectiveness, passenger comfort and environmental impact.

Bringing form and function together in a highly stylised rotorcraft, which integrates as many as 68 different Airbus Helicopters-patented technologies, the H160 boasts a payload lift, range and efficiency that make it ideally suited for a wide variety of uses.

“The H160 absolutely brings something different to the market,” says Frederic Lemos, Head of Private Sales at Airbus Helicopters. “We wanted to demonstrate with this aircraft that you can ally efficiency and performance.”

The distinctive design of the H160 includes two Airbus Helicopter firsts, both offering improved performance and flight stability: the largest-ever Fenestron® shrouded tail rotor, which is also double-canted at 12-deg. angles, further enhancing anti-torque control efficiency; and the all-new Biplane Stabilizer™, whose unique design involves a staggered placement of the dual-level, interconnected stabilizers.

This feature facilitates pilot manoeuvres and significantly reduces aerodynamic penalties in low-speed flight and hover.

An additional H160 technology breakthrough is Airbus Helicopters’ initial production use of its Blue Edge® main rotor blades, which reduce exterior noise levels by 50 per cent (3 dB) and also allow a payload increase of up to 100 kg when compared to traditional rotor blades, depending on flight conditions.

To power its H160, Airbus Helicopters has selected the new Turbomeca 1,100-shp. Arrano engine, which offers significant reductions in fuel consumption for improved range and payload performance, along with a reduced environmental footprint. An optimised maintenance concept designed to significantly decrease the need for on-site servicing will contribute to lower operational costs for the helicopter.

At 5.5 to 6 tonnes, the model also remains small enough to land on most heliports – a particularly desirable characteristic for those seeking to access the world’s nooks and crannies. As for performance, with a cruise speed of 160 kts, it can carry 12 passengers at distances of up to 120 nautical miles.

Together these state-of-the-art features combine to create a new benchmark for helicopters the world over as Airbus forge ahead into a new era.

Service entry for the H160 is planned for 2018.

By Paul Joseph