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2016-2020

2016

First flight of the H160 PT2.

27 January: The H160’s second prototype takes off from Marignane, France, kicking off a busy 2016 for Airbus’ medium-sized helicopter as it pursues its flight test program with two prototypes.

Airbus Helicopters selected by Ascent as the Aircraft Service Provider for the UK’s Military Flying Training System.

20 May: Airbus Helicopters in the UK is selected by Ascent as the Aircraft Service Provider for the UK's Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS). The contract, worth £500 million over 17 years, will see Airbus Helicopters deliver aircraft and an integrated support solution over the course of 18 months, ready to start training in April 2018. This will involve the manufacture of aircraft in addition to developing the support infrastructure and training initial crews and maintenance personnel.

The consortium’s order will lead to assembly of the H135 in China.

13 June: A Chinese consortium composed of China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS), Qingdao United General Aviation Industrial development Company (Qingdao United) and CITIC Offshore Helicopter Co. Ltd (COHC) orders 100 H135 light-twin helicopters, becoming China's first customer to form an industrial partnership to launch a H135 final assembly line (FAL) in Qingdao, Shandong province. This is an important step forward, fulfilling the commitment of purchasing 100 H135s signed in a Letter of Intent (LOI) last year.

Airbus Helicopters’ VIP version of the H175.

30 June: Airbus Helicopters delivers the first VIP version of the H175, the company's new medium class twin-engine helicopter, which entered service in 2014 for offshore transportation.

The H225M Caracal multirole utility helicopter is ordered by the Kuwait Ministry of Defence.

9 August: The Kuwait Ministry of Defense orders 30 H225M Caracal helicopters, as well as an associated support and services package.

Delivery of the first two NH90 to the Spanish Army.

14 September: Spanish Army takes delivery of first NH90s, with the Directorate General of Armament and Equipment (DGAM) completing transfer of the first two NH90 tactical transport helicopters from the Airbus Helicopters plant in Albacete to the Spanish Army.

Delivery of the first AS565 MBe Panther to the Mexican Navy.

28 September: The Mexican Navy receives the first of 10 AS565 MBe Panther helicopters it purchased in 2024, becoming the first customer in the world to receive the new version of this multi-role, medium-class military rotorcraft. The Navy will receive three other units before the end of the year, and the remaining six by early 2018.

2017

The French Defence Minister announces the choice of H160 for France’s Joint Helicopter replacement programme.

3 March: The H160 is selected as the basis for France’s Joint Helicopter replacement programme (Helicoptères Interarmées Légers – HIL). 

First autonomous flight trials of a VSR700 Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) demonstrator.

19 June: Airbus Helicopters begins autonomous flight trials of a VSR700 Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) demonstrator, paving the way for a first flight of the actual VSR700 prototype in 2018.

The H145M’s modular weapons HForce system was designed by Airbus.

31 August: The H145M performs its first flight with a complete HForce weapons system in Donauwörth, Germany. With this modular weapons system designed by Airbus, the H145M can be equipped with all types of guided and ballistic armament, including missiles, laser guided rockets, guns and machine guns.

The H135 equipped with Airbus’ Helionix avionics system.

4 September: The Norwegian air ambulance operator Norsk Luftambulanse AS (NOLAS) is the first civil customer to receive an H135 equipped with Airbus’ Helionix avionics system, which provides greater mission flexibility and operational safety.

First flight of the H160 PT3.

13 October: The third H160 prototype (PT3) performed its maiden flight. With its cabin interior configuration similar to that of a serial aircraft, the PT3 prototype will contribute to the H160’s certification activities and flight testing. 

The German Navy’s second NH90 prototype lands after its successful maiden flight

24 November: The second prototype of the NH90 Sea Lion – commissioned by Germany’s Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support – lifts off from the Airbus facility in Donauwörth site for its maiden flight.

A composite image showing how CityAirbus will look in flight.

19 December: The CityAirbus programme reaches another milestone: the completion and power-on for the "iron bird" ground test facility in Taufkirchen, Germany. City Airbus is multicopter vehicle demonstrator that focuses on advancing remotely piloted electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) flight.

The VSR700 is designed for use aboard warships.

29 December: The Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters consortium is awarded a contract for technology development in the field of rotary-wing drones by the French DGA (Direction Générale de l'Armement). This contract covers de-risking studies ahead of construction of a future VSR700 programme tactical helicopter drone demonstrator for use aboard warships.

2018

The Skyways drone in flight.

8 February:  Airbus’ Skyways unmanned aerial vehicle – which was designed for autonomous parcel deliveries – makes its first flight demonstration, validating the drone’s automatic loading and unloading capabilities.

Infographic highlighting features of the H160 helicopter.

1 March: Babcock becomes the global launch customer for Airbus’ H160 after signing a five-year framework agreement to purchase a fleet of the medium-class helicopters. The H160s will be used for emergency medical services (EMS) and other critical services missions – starting in Europe and deployed progressively across Babcock’s bases worldwide.

Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters’ Chief Executive Officer.

1 April: Airbus appoints Bruno Even, 49, as Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Helicopters. He reports to Airbus CEO Tom Enders, and joins the company’s Executive Committee.

The latest and largest Fenestron version is shown on Airbus Helicopters’ H160.

12 April: Airbus celebrates the 50th anniversary of one of the company’s most recognizable innovations for helicopters: the Fenestron shrouded tail rotor. Initially developed to provide additional safeguards for personnel working around the rotorcraft when on the ground – and to protect the tail rotor in forward flight, as well as in complicated operational environments – the concept of shrouding the tail rotor also led to sound reduction, resulting from Airbus research and optimisation.

Two of the initial H175s in the public services configuration for Hong Kong’s Government Flying Service are shown in flight.

18 June: The Hong Kong-based Government Flying Service (GFS) receives three H175s in the public services configuration, becoming the world’s first operator of this new variant – which enlarges the helicopter’s mission capacity to search and rescue (SAR) operations, emergency medical services, law enforcement and firefighting, as well as land and maritime border control operations.

Team photo for the maiden flight of the LCH (Light Civil Helicopter).

24 July: The LCH (Light Civil Helicopter) prototype’s maiden flight – conducted in Marignane, France – marks a major milestone in the three years of close cooperation between Airbus and KAI (Korean Aerospace Industries) in developing this rotorcraft version.

The Airbus-built Tiger attack helicopter in flight.

25 July: The final series production German Tiger attack helicopter is delivered. This completes the series production of Tiger support helicopters at Airbus’ Donauwörth, Germany facility, which began in 1999.

The Airbus Helicopters VSR 700 demonstrator during flight in the unmanned autonomous mode.

20 December: The demonstrator for Airbus Helicopters’ VSR700 light military tactical unmanned aerial system performs a fully unmanned autonomous flight at the Istres air base in southern France. During the 30-minute flight, it successfully executes a variety of flight patterns before landing in an autonomous mode.

2019

An H145 with the five-bladed rotor in flight.

4 March: Airbus Helicopters unveils a new version of its best-selling H145 light twin-engine helicopter. Exhibited for the first time at the Heli-Expo 2019 show in Atlanta, Georgia USA, this latest upgrade brings an innovative new five-bladed rotor to the multi-mission H145, increasing the helicopter’s useful load by 150 kg. 

Airbus’ HFDM analytics service on a tablet.

5 March: Airbus Helicopters launches a new analytics service that supports operational safety by analysing aircraft data post-flight to identify risks before they lead to incidents. The HFDM (Flight Analyser helicopter flight data monitoring) evaluates the data generated by multiple on-board sources to automatically detect situations that could have been safer or potentially could have led to an incident or accident.

CHC Helicopters will use digital logcards with its H175.

6 March: Airbus announces that CHC Helicopter’s newest H175 will become the initial Airbus helicopter to be delivered with digital logcards. With digital content stored in a secured cloud, the digital logcard replaces outdated paper records. Airbus Helicopters is the first helicopter manufacturer on the market to transform paper logcards into easy-to-use digital data.

Inside Airbus’ H135 final assembly line in Qingdao.

17 April: Airbus Helicopters expands its industrial footprint and partnership with China through the opening of an H135 final assembly line in Qingdao. This is the first helicopter final assembly line built by a foreign manufacturer in China, as well as the first such assembly site for the H135 outside of Europe.

Confirming the Airbus Helicopters/Safran Helicopter Engines pact for cleaner vertical flight.

19 June: A Letter of Intent (LoI) is signed by Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines to prepare the future of cleaner, quieter and more efficient vertical flight. This formalises their willingness to jointly demonstrate future technologies that will significantly contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions and sound levels for future vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) platforms.

Airbus Helicopters employees mark 80 years of excellence at its Marignane facility.

1 July: 80 years of pioneering industrial excellence is observed by Airbus Helicopters, linked to the 1939 startup of activity at Marignane in southern France. Today, Marignane is home to the business’ headquarters, along with production lines for civil and military helicopters; design office; programme teams; maintenance, overhaul and repair activities; training and customer centres; development and testing facilities.

Marking Airbus Helicopters’ acquisition of Aersud Elicotteri.

12 July: Airbus Helicopters strengthens its Italian footprint with the acquisition of long-time distributor and 50-year partner Aersud Elicotteri, located near the city of Verona.

Celebrating the 1,000th Super Puma delivery.

6 September: Airbus Helicopters delivered its 1,000th Super Puma helicopter: a twin-engine multi-role H215 version assembled in Marignane, France, and provided to the German Federal Police (Bundespolizei) to support the German Havarie Command, which manages maritime emergencies off the coast of Germany.

The H145 atop the Southern Hemisphere’s highest mountain.

25 September: Airbus Helicopters announces that it reached new heights in the Andes after the latest H145 version set its skids on Argentina’s Aconcagua – the Southern Hemisphere’s highest mountain, topping out at a height of 6,962 metres (22,840 feet). It is the first time a twin-engine helicopter landed at this altitude, confirming the performance and the extensive flight envelope of the new H145.

The ACH145 and the world’s largest superyacht, the REV Ocean research and expedition vessel.

26 September: Airbus Helicopters details plans to provide one of the first new ACH145 versions – with a five-blade main rotor and increased maximum take-off weight – as the on-board helicopter for the REV Ocean research and expedition vessel (the world’s largest superyacht). The ACH145, which can operate from either of the 600-ft.-long (183 metre) yacht’s two helidecks, will play a key role in passenger transport and re-supply, as well as supporting the REV Ocean’s primary scientific mission.

The CityAirbus multicopter (shown here in an artist’s rendering), is one of the new-generation eVTOL platforms.

2 October: Airbus Helicopters and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) sign a joint Memorandum of Cooperation to unite their respective experiences and know-how in bringing the next generation of VTOL platforms to life, along with the necessary regulatory framework to support them. The areas of cooperation include high speed flight, the certification of new piloting assistance systems, the thermal/electrical hybridization of electric/hybrid-electric vertical takeoff & landing (eVTOL) rotorcraft, and condition-based maintenance.

The Germany Navy’s initial NH90 Sea Lion in flight.

24 October: The first NH90 Sea Lion naval multi-role helicopter for the German Navy was delivered by Airbus Helicopters. A total of 18 Sea Lions have been ordered by Germany to take on a wide range of roles, including search and rescue (SAR), maritime reconnaissance, special forces, as well as personnel and material transportation missions. In addition to its land-based use, the Sea Lion will operate from Type 702 (Berlin class) combat support ships.

Flight evaluations have begun with the VSR700 unmanned aerial system prototype.

12 November: The prototype of Airbus Helicopters’ VSR700 unmanned aerial system performed its first flight. Derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2, the VSR700 is an unmanned aerial system in the 500-1,000 kg, maximum take-off weight range, capable of carrying multiple full-sized naval sensors for extended periods – operating on existing ships and with a low logistical footprint.

Tiger helicopters for French, German and Spanish militaries will benefit from the Global Support Contract .

3 December: Airbus Helicopters and Europe’s OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation) sign a tri-lateral Global Support Contract aimed at boosting the availability rate of Tiger military helicopters in service with the French, German, and Spanish armies. Benefitting from this long-term support agreement, Tiger readiness and supportability will be secured for the next decade and beyond.

2020

The ACH130 Aston Martin Edition with its namesake automobile.

3 January: The first offering from Airbus Helicopters’ partnership with Aston Martin Lagonda is unveiled: the ACH130 Aston Martin Edition. This stylish version of the ACH130 corporate rotorcraft is introduced with a range of four interior and exterior designs created by the Aston Martin luxury automotive group, bringing a new level of aesthetics and rigorous attention to detail for the helicopter market.

NASA ordered its three H135s for multiple operations.

28 January: During the Heli-Expo trade show’s opening day in Anaheim, California, the first-ever partnership between the U.S. space program and Airbus Helicopters is announced. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) orders three H135s for use in security operations during rocket launches, for emergency medical services and in the transport of qualified personnel. NASA will operate the H135s from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

H125 helicopters show off their capabilities in flight.

28 January: A major performance increase is revealed for the H125, making full use of the available power from Safran Helicopter Engines’ Arriel 2D powerplant. In addition to boosting the helicopter’s external and internal load lifting capabilities, it also provides increased operational simplicity with new options that improve visibility and situational awareness for the pilot.

Reviewing Airbus’ helicopter flight data on a tablet device.

29 January: The number of rotorcraft that share data with Airbus Helicopters surpasses the 1,000 mark, further advancing Airbus’ creation of a connected helicopter ecosystem in which data from disparate sources is shared and analysed – helping operators make sense of their data for business value.

Helitrans of Norway's H135

3 June: Helitrans of Norway becomes the first customer to take delivery of new Airbus helicopters using the e-Delivery process, which enables the handover of aircraft while ensuring compliance with health and safety restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This system relies on the customer accepting flight-test and inspection findings conducted by authorised Airbus staff. Key elements include a video inspection of the helicopter and loose object check, along with the disinfection of all items, and aircraft documentation verification.

Airbus Helicopters’ five-bladed H145 in flight.

19 June: Airbus Helicopters’ H145 is certified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) with a new five-blade main rotor. This latest upgrade for the multi-mission H145 family increases useful load by 150 kg. (330 lb.). In addition, the new bearingless main rotor’s simplicity eases maintenance operations while improving ride comfort for passengers and crew.

Airbus Helicopters’ H160 receives EASA certification.

1 July: Airbus Helicopters’ multi-role twin engine H160 is granted its type certificate by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), marking a new chapter for the programme. The company is expecting FAA certification to follow shortly prior to first delivery to an undisclosed US customer later this year.

CityAirbus performs its first fully automatic flight.

31 July: Airbus announces that the company’s CityAirbus demonstrator performed its first fully automatic flight, from take-off through stabilisation in flight, and landing at Donauwörth, Germany. It clears the way for this demonstrator of an all-electric, four-seat, multicopter vehicle to be transferred to Manching in Germany for forward flight trials.

80 years of pioneering aviation

80 years of pioneering aviation

Retrace the 80 year history of Airbus Helicopters' Marignane site

Helicopters history

The full Helicopters history (1920s to today)

1920s

1930s-50s

1950s-60s

1960s-90s

1992-1995

1996-2000

2001-2005

2006-2010

2011-2015

2016-2020

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