By S.L. Fuller | October 13, 2017
Airbus Helicopters’ third H160 prototype, PT3, has completed its maiden flight, the manufacturer said. It flew Friday at the company’s headquarters in Marignane, France.
“The third prototype incorporates a significant amount of modifications based on feedback resulting from the first two years of testing by development, production and support teams,” said Bernard Fujarski, SVP and head of the H160 program for Airbus. “It plays an essential role in delivering a mature aircraft at entry into service and it is also closer to the serial definition with its interior lining and transport cabin configuration.”
PT3’s cabin interior configuration is similar to that of series aircraft, Airbus said. The aircraft is expected to enter into service in 2019. The first version to enter is to feature a passenger transport configuration, for either commercial transport or oil and gas. Following would be the EMS version.
Airbus said the first two prototypes have accumulated more than 500 flight hours since the model’s first flight in June 2015. The company said that the flight envelope has already been fully tested and the domain has been opened. Remaining development activity includes hot weather testing, antennas and optional equipment. Those tests are to be completed using all prototypes.
The H160’s final assembly line in Marignane is in the final stages of preparation, Airbus said. It should be ready to start serial production “shortly.” Customer support activities are also being prepared, using the “operator zero campaign.” Airbus said the campaign involves using the prototypes and test means to check and improve the maintenance plan, digital work cards and technical documentation, tooling and other items ahead of actual operations.