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Monday, March 7, 2011

Eurocopter Refeshes Line with EC145T2, e-Helos and Preps X4

Eurocopter has unveiled the EC145T2 at Heli-Expo in Orlando, an improved version of the light twin with Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, uprated engines and gearboxes, and a new integrated cockpit.

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EC145 photos: Eurocopter

Flying since June 2010, the EC145 "Tango Two" is the first of a slew of improved models revealed at the show as Eurocopter edges towards the launch of its much-anticipated AS365/EC155 Dauphin replacement, codenamed X4.

Eurocopter plans to launch development of the X4 in the second quarter, aiming for entry into service in 2016, says president and CEO Lutz Bertling. He promises an advanced helicopter, but acknowledges how advanced will depend on how much money the French government provides  for research to raise the maturity level of key technologies.

Nearer term, the company is introducing a series of upgraded "e-generation" models beginning with the A350B3e, deliveries of which will begin in August. This light turbine single has an 12%-uprated, 950shp Turbomeca Arriel 2D engine and improved tail rotor.

Next up is the EC135P2e/T2e light twin, set for certification by mid-year. This has an 88lb increase in max take-off weight, to 6,040lb - equivalent to one extra passenger.

Then there is the AS365N3e medium twin, planned for certification in third quarter 2013 and first deliveries early in 2014. This has 15%-uprated Arriel 2N engines, a 400lb increase in MTOW to 9,951lb and a 790lb+ increase in payload.

Topping out the e-generation line is the AS332L1e Super Puma, scheduled for certification early in 2012. This brings to the heavier twin the glass cockpit from the EC225 Super Puma.

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The EC145T2, meanwhile, is set for delivery beginning in 2013. Eurocopter says the Fenestron will improve sfaety, increase anti-torque efficiency, reduce power demand in forward flight and cut noise and vibration. The Fenestron is mounted on a new composite tail boom.

Arriel 2E engines providing 25% more power, coupled with a new main gearbox, will give the Tange Two increased single-engine performance, faster cruise speed and lower operating costs, Eurocopter says. New avionics include an integrated cockpit with three large displays and a four-axis autopilot.

Video: Eurocopter

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