- 22 Jun 2021
- Tony Kioussis
- Aviation Podcasts
Airbus Helicopters is home to many of the leading brands in today’s VIP and corporate turbine helicopter market, with the company responsible for the modern variants of a range of iconic names.
The helicopter manufacturer is a renamed version of Eurocopter, which was formed in the early 1990s through the merger of the helicopter arms of Germany’s DASA and France’s Aerospatiale, and came to be part of EADS and later Airbus. As such, Airbus Helicopters can trace its roots to the earliest days of European aviation industry.
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A 2016-model Airbus H120 costs $1.7m on the pre-owned market, whereas a 2016 model H155 costs $11.5m, according to Aircraft Bluebook’s summer 2021 data. The price of an Airbus helicopter will depend on its age, the model, and its maintenance condition (among other things). Bluebook’s prices represent the average retail for the model year – though individual aircraft prices can differ depending on several airplane-specific factors.
As of April 2021, there were 5,699 Airbus helicopters flying worldwide, per JETNET. The Airbus AS 350B-2 Ecreuil has the largest in-operation fleet, with 1,186 units, followed by the H125 with 981 in operation. At the time of writing, there had been 386 Airbus helicopter retirements from a total 6,183 units built.
Airbus helicopters offer maximum ranges of between 256nm for the Airbus H135 P3 model up to 438nm for the H155, according to Conklin & de Decker.
Airbus Helicopters manufactures models in the single-engine, the light multi-engine, the medium multi-engine, and heavy multi-engine turbine helicopter categories. Competing in the single-engine category are models from Bell, Enstrom, MD Helicopters and Leonardo, with pre-owned options available from AgustaWestland and Eurocopter. Bell, Leonardo and MD Helicopters also produce light multi-engine turbine models to compete for market share with Airbus. In the medium twin-engine sector, Bell, Leonardo, and Sikorsky manufacture products alongside Airbus, while, like Airbus, Bell, Leonardo and Sikorsky also produce models in the heavy twin turbine market.
Airbus Turbine Helicopters Overview
By Gerrard Cowan
In the corporate and VIP markets, Airbus Helicopters groups its specialised aircraft under the name of Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH).
Airbus Single-Engine Turbine Helicopters
These include the H125, known as the Airbus H125 (and previously as the AS350 B3e before Airbus altered its naming conventions). According to Airbus Corporate Helicopters, the aircraft typically holds up to five passengers and has a range of 340nm.
Another member of the successful AS350 family, the Airbus H130 combines the line’s famous qualities in the single-engine, multirole market with a capacity that appeals to many VIP/corporate operators.
Powered by an Arriel 2D engine, the H130 can hold as many as seven passengers, though usually is configured for six in this role. It has a range of interior options, with up to six forward-facing seats and luxurious cabin accents, according to Airbus. Ceiling-to-floor cockpit windows fill the cabin with light.
Airbus Twin Engine Turbine Helicopters
The Airbus H135 (previously the Eurocopter EC135 T3) is an upgrade on the popular EC135 line, of which around 1,400 have been produced during just over 20 years of manufacture.
Today’s Airbus H135 variant is powered either by two Safran Arrius 2B2plus engines, or by a pair of Pratt & Whitney PW206B3 engines, and provides seating for six passengers in very comfortable conditions.
The Airbus H145, meanwhile, stems from the Eurocopter EC145 that was originally developed in the late 1990s. The modern variant holds up to nine passengers and offers a range of 351nm. It has more than eight possible layouts for VIP/corporate operators, offering a high degree of flexibility. The model also has a Helionix flight deck offering a synthetic vision system, four-axis autopilot and more.
A new turbine helicopter in the Airbus range, the Airbus H160 (previously called the X4) was launched in 2015, with the H160 version offered to the VIP and corporate markets.
Capable of carrying 10 passengers, and with a range of 475nm, the aircraft can be acquired in a ‘lounge package’ variant, which aims to achieve the optimum balance of comfort and efficiency, and also offers a Helionix avionics package while being powered by two Safran Arrano 1A engines.
The final member of the current-day ACH family is the Airbus H175, a helicopter capable of carrying up to 12 passengers and reaching a range of 590nm. The platform’s lounge-like proportions offer increased legroom, more refinement and other qualities, according to Airbus Helicopters, providing a private space that also serves as an excellent working environment. The aircraft has a Helionix flight deck and two Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67E turboshaft engines.
Other modern Airbus Helicopter platforms that could appeal to VIP and corporate users include the Airbus H155, which can be fitted to seat seven in VIP configuration, and the Airbus H225 Super Puma, which can hold up to 19 passengers in comfortable seating.
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