Airbus H160: A Safer, Quieter, Helicopter

Fair Lifts First Looks, Helicopters

A new helicopter is expected to be in production starting in 2019. The helicopter will be made by Airbus Helicopters in Marignane, France. The helicopter in question is the H160. The helicopter will have dual engines and is said to be friendly for the environment; a test pilot for Airbus described the helicopter as safer.

Ten of the H160s are expected to be made in a “pre-production” run of the helicopters within the next couple of months, with around 50 helicopters in total the first year. Eventually, Airbus said it could produce around 120 of these helicopters each year. There is not an official price on the H160 yet, but it is estimated to be between $14 million to $18 million per helicopter. According to Airbus, the H160 is a “new chapter in the history of Airbus.” The company describes the H160 as a medium helicopter fitting between the current H145 and H170. Airbus states, “The entire design was based on one overriding goal: to create added value for customers in terms of performance, economic competitiveness, safety and comfort.”

The helicopter company describes the H160 as “cleaner and quieter” and that the chopper “takes a step forward in respect for the environment.” Aerodynamic technology implements a five-blade rotor system that is supposed to make this possible. It is quiet enough that passengers can talk to one another while on board without needing a headset. 

The H160 is 12,500 pounds and can hold 661 pounds in its baggage compartment alone. The helicopter seats up to 12 passengers.

The Airbus H160 performing a demo tour over New York City

The Airbus H160 performing a demo tour over New York City

A more luxurious model of the helicopter holds four to 10 passengers and is equipped with executive or VIP seating, which is known as the ACH160. This model also contains leather seating. The H160 made an appearance in the 2018 Heli-Expo show in Las Vegas from February 27-March 1.

A new engine in the helicopter — the Safran Arrano — will cut back on fuel consumption between 10 to 15 percent (compared to the AS365/H155). In addition, the design will throw out the hydraulic system and use electric brakes and landing gear.

The H160 is expected to be able to fly for over four hours at a time. The helicopter can fly around 530 miles and reach speeds of 177 miles per hour.

According to Wired, Oliver Gensse, an Airbus test pilot, has flown the H160. The H160 has an “automatic recovery mode.”

“You can get out of critical situations very easily,” Gensse said. He said the helicopter can reduce the amount of training to fly a helicopter. “It’s a new way of imagining flight. Previously, we’d have a given helicopter and a pilot with a lot of training required to mix them.”

Situations that would require a high level of training to get out of risky situations are not as bad, according to Gensse. “Now, though, we try to build the aircraft to be very easy. If it’s easy, it will be safer.”