In April 2015, CHC Helicopter became the first operator to reach 100,000 flight hours with its fleet of H225 helicopters. Behind this figure lies the story of a proven aircraft and a longstanding partnership.
CHC received its 40th H225 in 2014, and is currently the largest operator of this helicopter type. Almost one fifth of the Canadian company’s fleet is made up of H225s.
For Gérard Aubert, program contract manager for the H225, this huge order “was a strong sign of trust”. CHC took delivery of its first H225 in 2007 and has subsequently accumulated more than 100,000 flight hours with this helicopter, mainly through oil & gas and search and rescue missions. The fact that CHC reached this milestone in a relatively short period of time is a sign of the helicopter’s high availability, which amounts to more than 90 percent, adds Aubert.
“The H225 has proven to be a solid aircraft that can be used in harsh conditions worldwide,” confirms CHC pilot Glenn Christiansen, who flies workers to oil rigs on the Norwegian continental shelf. According to Christiansen, he and his colleagues appreciate the increased payload, reduced vibration, fully digital autopilot and long range. The H225 offers the farthest range in comparison to its competitors.
Mick O’Grady is senior base pilot for CHC, stationed in Broome, Australia, where the helicopter is mainly used for search and rescue missions. “The H225 is one of the few aircraft that can actually travel up to 500 nautical miles, round-trip. That makes a difference during rescue operations in this part of the world,” he explains.
He and his team recently were able to find and rescue five fishermen at night using the equipment on board the H225. One indispensable asset, he says, was the aircraft’s forward looking infrared (FLIR), which allowed the pilots to detect the men’s heat signatures in the moonless night.
Another important feature: The H225 is the first helicopter in the industry with a flight crew operating manual (FCOM), a source document released by Airbus Helicopters that incorporates manufacturer guidelines for enhanced operational safety and increased efficiency.
“The operations manual has big potential,” says Norwegian pilot Christiansen. “Such documents have been a standard in the fixed-wing world for years, and now we in the helicopter industry are reaping the benefits of these standardised manuals, which we are using worldwide.”
Airbus Helicopters is continuously improving its H225, not only with the FCOM but also a new cabin design and a set of upgrades to take this rotorcraft with the largest range in the business even farther.