HOUSTON --- At 11.30 AM on the opening day of this year’s Heli-Expo, February 24, Eurocopter lifted the veil off a brand-new member of its helicopter family: the EC175. The full-scale mock-up was highlighted on the company’s booth # 631. Eurocopter is now introducing its 16-passenger civil product to the market. Two first launch partners were present at the unveiling ceremony. They are: Bristow Group (USA) and VIH Aviation Group (Canada). Eurocopter will announce further customers during the show.
The development of the EC175, a joint program with China, is on schedule. In a two-year timeframe, starting from the contract signature on December 5, 2005, followed by the approval of the Preliminary Designed Review on December 5, 2006 and the acceptance of Critical Design Review on December 5, 2007 the design has been frozen. Production of the first prototype is launched. The maiden flight is scheduled for 2009, EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) type certification is expected for 2011.
Lutz Bertling, President and CEO of Eurocopter, stated: “I am proud to present our new EC175 to you at this show. We have designed it together with our customers for our customers, listening closely to their requirements, input and operating experience. In terms of safety, aircraft accessibility, cabin space and comfort, the EC175 is already shaping up to be a formidable contender in the market. Being here in Houston, capital of the oil and gas industry, offshore operators will be pleased to hear that the EC175 has been designed to be ready to best perform their mission, with more than 40 optional equipments available from the early beginning.”
“With regard to our Chinese partner, Harbin Aviation Industry Group (Avic II), I have to say that our cooperation over a distance of some 10,000 km (6,215 miles) has been superb. Based on decades of shared experience from previous programs, we have reached maturity in pooling our competences and distributing the workload evenly. The Development and Industrialisation are 50/50 shared, while Eurocopter is the technical leader of this joint program. Our proven partnership has resulted in a product that the market has truly been waiting for”, Bertling concluded.
True to the company’s tradition of setting and raising the standards in the industry, Eurocopter launches a product that sets benchmarks for decades to come. The EC175 excels in:
- Multi-Mission Capability
- State-of-the-art Technologies
- Cabin size and Comfort
- Cockpit Design
- Reduced Maintenance
- Mission Optimization
The design of the EC175 is the result of a process that involved a wide panel of customers through various workshops in order to gather their advices and requirements. It is a multirole medium-twin class helicopter and can fulfil a large scope of highly demanding missions, such as Oil & Gas crew change, long range Search And Rescue, Public Services (Homeland Security & Emergency Medical Services), as well as top-of-the-range business and commercial aviation.
-- State-of-the-Art Technologies
Powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67E engines with new generation FADEC and to be certified for dual pilot IFR operations, the EC175 features state-of-the-art technologies such as four-axis digital Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), glass cockpit and avionics suite, a five-bladed Spheriflex main rotor and crashworthy airframe. The EC175 has been designed to have a very low vibration level, with a blade design issued from the EC155’s and EC225’s successful experience. Particular attention is being paid to minimize internal and external noise. The target is to be the quietest in its class, far below the latest ICAO standards. The EC175 will also be the most eco-friendly aircraft in its category, emitting the least pollution per transported passenger.
-- Big Cabin, great Comfort
With the biggest cabin size in its class, the EC175 offers first-class comfort and ideal seating arrangements with unrivalled legroom and lateral pitch for each of the 16 passengers. Large windows ensure panoramic view for all. The roomy, flat-floored, unobstructed cabin is easily accessible through extra-large sliding doors on either side. Two large upward-opening hatches give access to the spacious luggage compartment, which can be accessed from the cabin in SAR configuration. For ultimate comfort, the cockpit and cabin are individually and automatically air conditioned.
-- A Cockpit designed by Pilots for Pilots
The EC175’s avionics suite and integrated architecture are based on the EC225’s solution. The four 6x8-inch multi-function LCD displays, plus one optional central mission display, offer ideal ergonomics and symbolizations that are truly pilot-friendly. Advanced caution and warning systems have built-in test functions for fault indication. The four-axis duplex autopilot provides unrivalled precision and stability. Open architecture permits easy connection of navigation sensors. These pilot-friendly systems, plus FADEC, substantially reduce pilot workload and enhance pilot precision and aircraft safety.
-- Enhanced Safety
The EC175’s airframe and fuel system exceed EASA CS29 crashworthiness requirements. In addition to general fail-safe design and fully redundant systems, emergency egress capacity exceeds EASA Type IV certification requirements. Two wide pilot doors, two extra-wide, sliding passenger doors and eight large push-out windows allow 16 passengers and two pilots to leave the aircraft in a matter of seconds. Oversized front and aft emergency floatation devices are permanently “armed” in flight and can be inflated at high speed. The EC175 has Sea State 6 capability with a high helicopter waterline. The risk of capsizing is minimal. Two 12 to 18-pax life rafts can be easily released. These features make the EC175 one of the safest helicopters in its category.
-- Reduced Maintenance
Taking advantage of its large customer based experience, Eurocopter has performed a detailed Logistic Support Analysis, demonstrating that a new maintenance approach would provide significant and tangible economic returns for civilian customers. Therefore, the maintenance policy has been considered as the cornerstone of the design of the EC175. The overall concept of Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) was applied to optimize a preventive maintenance programme which enhances safety, operational availability, reliability and costeffectiveness.
--- Optimized for the Mission
Extensive end user advice combined with the latest computer aided design and virtual simulation have enabled the mission optimization of the EC175. It is the roomiest, safest, most comfortable, best pilot friendly, most cost-effective workhorse in its class.
Eurocopter very much welcomes aboard its EC175 launch partners, namely Bristow Group and VIH Aviation Group, and thanks them for their support and their confidence in this new product.
Bill Chiles, President and CEO of Bristow Group, stated at the launch ceremony: “We challenged Eurocopter to give us an analysis of the expected performance of the EC175. Our main areas of concern were range and payload, new technology, passenger comfort, maintainability and operating costs. Reviewing Eurocopter’s analysis, it became immediately clear to us that the EC175 fits very well into our future plans and will work well for our customers on a global basis.”
Ken Norie, President and CEO of VIH Aviation Group, commented: “The EC175 will be an excellent addition to our fleet of aircraft particularly in the very specific offshore oil and gas and SAR missions which we are committed to excel in. We are very proud to be once again Eurocopter’s Canadian launch partner for a new aircraft.”
The VIH Aviation Group is headquartered at the Victoria (BC) International Airport with bases strategically located throughout Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, Australia and China. The VIH Aviation Group, through its operating entities VIH Helicopters Ltd. and Cougar Helicopters Inc., operates 65 helicopters of varying sizes and has in excess of 30 more on order.
The Bristow Group, with its affiliated companies, has a fleet of over 500 helicopters making the Group one of the largest providers of helicopter transportation services. Its mission is to provide the safest and most efficient helicopter transportation, maintenance, search and rescue and aviation support to customers around the world. Bristow was the launch customer of the AS332 Super Puma some 25 years ago, and of the EC225 in 2004.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a Division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace, defence and related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approx. 14,000 people. In 2007, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer in the civil and parapublic market, with a turnover exceeding 4 billion Euros, orders for 802 new helicopters, and a 53 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors.