The newcomer is the first prototype equipped with a cabin interior and with a configuration closer to the serial definition.
The third prototype (PT3) of the Airbus Helicopters H160 performed its maiden flight at the company’s headquarters on 13th October. PT3, with its cabin interior configuration similar to that of a serial aircraft, will contribute to certification activities and flight testing to ensure the aircraft’s level of maturity ahead of entry into service in 2019.
The third prototype also incorporates a significant amount of modifications based on feedback resulting from the first two years of testing by development, production and support teams, says Bernard Fujarski, Senior Vice President, Head of H160 programme.
The first two prototypes have clocked more than 500 flight hours since the model’s maiden flight in June 2015. In that time, the flight envelope has already been fully tested and the domain has been opened. The remaining development activity, for example complementary hot weather testing, antennas, and optional equipment will be done using all three aircraft.
The helicopter’s final assembly line in Marignane is in the final stages of preparation and will be ready to start serial production shortly. Customer support activities are being prepared in parallel thanks to the extensive involvement of maintenance teams, through the “operator zero campaign”, using the prototypes and test facilities to check and improve the maintenance plan, digital work cards and technical documentation, and tooling etc. ahead of actual operations.
The first version to enter service in 2019 will be configured for passenger transport — commercial air transport or Oil and Gas — followed by the emergency medical services (EMS) version.