The king of the seas, the well-known naval version of Airbus Helicopters’ Panther helicopter will receive qualification this summer, followed by the first deliveries to the Mexican and Indonesian navies scheduled for later this year. We go behind the production walls to have an exclusive look at what’s in store for the new AS565 MBe.
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The all-weather, multi-role AS565 MBe rotorcraft is the main workhorse for naval and coast guard missions around the world. More than 1,000 aircraft from the Dauphin and Panther family have been sold in 72 countries and are operated by more than 250 customers. Building on a long and trusted history, the new Panther MBe is a blend of new and modern technology – all aimed to increase performance and safety, ease operability and improve cost efficiency.
“We placed a strong focus on maturity and availability. The MBe has already performed intensive flight testing including 150 hours in hot and high environments,” said Jannick Blanc, head of the Dauphin Program at Airbus Helicopters.
As the MBe nears its qualification this summer, there will be a host of new improvements. The new Turbomeca Arriel 2N engine increases the maximum take-off weight as well as the rotorcrafts performance in high & hot environments. One Engine Inoperative (OEI) performance also gets an upgrade with the new engines, increasing safety and easing pilot operations.
Pilot workload is further reduced thanks to new glass cockpit technology, a dual channel 4-axis digital Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), and a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) to ease engine performance control. A Flight Operating Manual will be available for autopilot mode, allowing operators to develop their own standard operating procedures in alignment with their requirements.
Improving cost efficiency was also a main goal of new Panther MBe which led to optimizing the commonality of parts, optionals and toolings between the MB and MBe version.“Our customers will benefit from a significant extension in the scheduled maintenance plan, going from 10 to 12 years,” said Blanc. The new engine and tail rotor blades, based on resin transfer molding technology, are more resistant and reduce maintenance requirements. And thanks to the transformation project at the heart of Airbus Helicopters, the Panther’s industrial process received a refresher, greatly reducing its time to market and allowing early deliveries for the first upcoming deliveries.
“We’re looking forward to the entry into service of the new MBe as well as deploying support and services to the Mexican and Indonesian navies thanks to our customer centers around the world,” says Blanc.