The first Airbus Helicopters H160 has been fitted with its rear fuselage in Albacete, Spain, marking the first major component assembly for an initial pre-production run of the new medium utility aircraft.
The main fuselage was delivered from Airbus' Donauworth, Germany, facility earlier this year. Airbus plans to build 10 pre-serial aircraft in preparation for fill-rate production.
Target assembly time for the H160 is 40 days once in full production — half of the time it takes to build its predecessor, the AS365 Dauphin — on a new assembly line that incorporates robotics and automation.
Airbus Helicopters H160 Blue Edge blade sound-reduction demo at the Airbus Experience Center in Washington D.C.
The H160 has 68 patents and features sound-reducing Blue Edge blades and Helionix. Airbus said the aircraft is its first with a true digital, connected focus.
The H160's Helionix avionics system gives the pilot the ability to push one button when in distress to allow the aircraft to automatically enter a safe flight condition with no pilot intervention.
A demo of the sound comparison of a helicopter in flight with Blue Edge blades compared to conventional blades is on display at the Airbus Experience Center in Washington D.C. The blades provide an estimated three- to four-decibel reduction in noticeable sound and also decrease vibration without any need to apply such technology to the airframe, Airbus explained to R&WI.
Launch customers for the H160 include energy company Babcock, an unnamed Latin American customer and an unnamed U.S. customer. First deliveries are expected in 2019.