Eurocopter EC145

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EC145
Stanford EC145.jpg
Stanford’s EC145 life flight on approach.
Role Medium utility helicopter
Manufacturer Eurocopter Group, now Airbus Helicopters
First flight 12 June 1999
Introduction 2002
Status In service
Produced 1999-present
Unit cost
US$5.5 million, €2 million[citation needed]
Developed from MBB/Kawasaki BK 117
Variants Eurocopter UH-72 Lakota

The Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) EC145 is a twin-engine light utility helicopter manufactured by Airbus Helicopters. Originally referred to as the BK 117 C2, the EC145 is based upon the MBB/Kawasaki BK 117 C1, which became a part of the Eurocopter line-up in 1992 when the company was formed through the merger of the Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm helicopter division of Daimler-Benz and the helicopter division of Aérospatiale-Matra. The EC145 is a twin-engine aircraft and can carry up to nine passengers along with two crew, depending on customer configuration. The helicopter is marketed for passenger transport, corporate transport, emergency medical services (EMS), search and rescue, parapublic and utility roles.

Development[edit]

Origins[edit]

External view of the forward cabin
Internal cabin view

The EC145 was a joint development between Eurocopter and Kawasaki Heavy Industries on the basis of their successful prior jointly-produced BK 117 C1. Rather than developing an entirely clean sheet design, the forward cockpit and modern avionics of Eurocopter's EC 135 were adopted in combination with the proven BK 117's rear section; Flight International described the new helicopter, originally designed as BK 117 C2, as being "90% a combination of these two aircraft [The EC135 and BK 117 C1]".[1] However, there were significant areas of redesign, advantages held by the EC145 over its predecessor include possessing a greater range and payload capacity, a considerably increased and uninterrupted cabin area, reduced vibration and noise emissions, and measures to simplify maintenance and minimize operational costs.[2]

The new model was type-certificated as the BK 117 C2; in December 1997, it was selected by the French Defense and Civil Guard for air rescue mission, 31 EC145s were ordered to replace their fleet of aging Aérospatiale Alouette III in a deal costing $170 million.[3][4] The first EC145 completed its maiden flight at Donauwörth, Germany on 12 June 1999; Eurocopter conducted a major publicity event for the emerging type at the US Helicopter Association International Show in February 2000.[5] Safety certification of the EC145 was awarded by the German Luftfahrt-Bundesamt and Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau in December 2000; and by the United States Federal Aviation Administration in early 2002.[citation needed]

Eurocopter and Kawasaki have an agreement under which both firms independently manufacture and market the aircraft, while working collaboratively on updates and further development projects. In practice, Kawasaki uses the designation BK 117 C2 for the type and sells/produces the aircraft in the Asian market; Eurocopter sells the type globally under the EC145 designation. In November 2004, with the termination of production of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' MH2000, the BK 117 C2 became the only civil helicopter in production in Japan.[6]

Further development[edit]

In 2011, Eurocopter officially launched an upgraded model of the EC145, designated EC145 T2, unveiling the new type at Heli Expo 2011. The EC145 T2 is designed to significantly increase the aircraft's performance, featuring new Arriel 2E turboshaft engines, dual-digital Full Authority Digital Engine Controls (FADEC), Eurocopter's Fenestron shrouded tail rotor design, and upgraded tail and main rotor gear boxes. Considerable differences and improvements have been introduced to the cockpit and aircraft subsystems, including the adoption of increasingly digital avionics and a fully modular approach to these systems, amongst the biggest changes is a more sophisticated 4-axis autopilot.[7] In 2014, Airbus Helicopters announced that 50 EC145 T2s would be manufactured in 2015, the production is expected to eventually rise to 70 helicopters per year.[8]

Starting in 2011, Eurocopter has been developing an optionally piloted vehicle (OPV) variant of the EC145. Test flights of the EC145 OPV, including unmanned flights, began in 2013. The system, designed to plug into the EC145's existing avionics, has the capability to operate autonomously, or alternatively be controlled by human operators either via the cockpit or from a ground control station. The technology, which is reported to be compatible of a number of Eurocopter's range of helicopters, is intended for both civil and military applications.[9] In an emergency situation, such as systems failure, the EC145 OPV is programmed to enter into an automated hover-to-land procedure to safely land the aircraft.[10]

Design[edit]

Rear of the cabin, note the clamshell doors

The EC145 features a larger cabin space than the older BK 117 C1 helicopter with internal space increased by 46 cm (18 in) in length and 13 cm (5 in) in width, increasing cabin volume by 1.0 m³ (35 ft³) to 6.0 m³ (211 ft³). Other improvements over the BK 117 include an increased maximum take-off weight and greater range, achieved partially by the adoption of composite rotor blades, which were derived from the smaller EC135. The EC145 has a hingeless rotor system with a monolithic titanium hub; the helicopter was originally powered by a pair of Turboméca Arriel 1E2 turboshaft engines, later aircraft are powered by the upgraded Turboméca Arriel 2E engine.[11] A key feature of the aircraft is the variable rotorspeed and torque matching system (VARTOMS), derived from the BK 117, which Eurocopter has attributed as making the EC145 "the quietest helicopter in its class".[12]

The EC145 is fitted with an all-glass cockpit, consists of a Thales Avionics MEGHAS Flight Control Display System with active matrix liquid crystal displays (LCDs); it can be piloted by either one or two pilots.[13] A number of systems are independently redundant, including the autopilot system, hydraulic boost, transmission lubrication, and some of the onboard sensors.[13] The EC145 T2 features additional and newer avionics systems, such as a full 4-axis autopilot and dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC); three large LCD primary displays were also introduced to control these systems.[7] The type is fully capable of Category A operations;[11] in November 2008, an EC145 performed the first medical transport flights under instrument flight rules (IFR) in Europe; the type is able to fly entirely under GPS navigation from takeoff to final approach when required.[14] The EC145 is also the first civil helicopter to be fitted with night vision-compatible cockpit instrumentation and lighting straight off the production line.[15]

Typical cabin arrangements allows for eight passengers in a club seating configuration, or nine passengers in a high density seating configuration, passenger seating is designed for quick rearrangement based upon current demands.[13] The cabin can be accessed either through sliding doors in either side of the aircraft or via large clamshell doors at the rear of the cabin; in combination with the high mounted tail boom, the clamshell doors are designed to provide safe clearance for loading and unloading activities even while the rotors are turning. In an EMS/casualty evacuation arrangement, the EC145 can carry up to two stretchered patients with three accompanying medical staff.[13] The helicopter can be fitted with emergency floats, rescue hoist, search light, load hook and specialist equipment for other operational requirements.

Operational history[edit]

The French Sécurité Civile (Civil Guard), French Gendarmerie and the Landespolizei (State Police) of Hesse, Germany became the first operators of the EC145 when they received initial deliveries of the helicopter in April 2002.[16] Two of the Sécurité Civile helicopters have crashed since delivery, with one being lost during a mountain rescue operation on Mount Arbizon in the French Pyrenees on 20 July 2003 and the other crashing during a police rescue exercise near Garvarnie in the Pyrenees on 5 June 2006 with the loss of three lives.[17] In 2008, the Gendarmerie reportedly stated that the EC145 has a per aircraft availability rate of roughly 90 percent.[18]

In 2006, the UH-145, a military variant of the EC145, was selected for the United States Army's Light Utility Helicopter Program, beating three other helicopters. The deal, valued at $3 billion, involved the supply and servicing of 345 helicopters, with options for additional aircraft.[19] The variant was designated UH-72 Lakota by the U.S. Department of Defense; the first UH-72A was delivered to the U.S. Army in December 2006.[20] In June 2013, the German Federal Ministry of Defence announced plans to acquire 15 EC145s in a military configuration for special forces operations;[21] designated EC645 T2, these aircraft are reportedly to be armed and equipped with an electro-optical reconnaissance system and troop deployment fittings;[22] deliveries are to take place from 2015 to 2017.[23]

In April 2012, Eurocopter announced that the 500th EC145 had been delivered.[16] On 31 July 2014, the first EC145 T2, an updated variant, was delivered to its launch customer, DLR Luftrettung, who have ordered a total of 20 such helicopters for emergency medical service operations.[8]

Variants[edit]

A Eurocopter EC 145, operated by the French Sécurité Civile
EC145
Basic model introduced, derived from preceding BK 117 C-1; this variant is powered by Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 turboshaft engines and has a conventional high boom tail rotor.[12]
EC145 Mercedes-Benz Style
EC145 intended for VIP and corporate purposes, outfitted with a luxury interior designed by Mercedes-Benz; seating four to eight passengers depending upon configuration.[24]
EC145 T2
Updated version with more powerful (775 kilowatts (1,039 shp) Arriel 2E engines, new fenestron shrouded tail rotor, and new avionics.[25]
EC645 T2
Military version of the EC145 T2[23]
UH-72A Lakota
A militarised Light Utility Helicopter, operated by the US Army.

Operators[edit]

Eurocopter EC145 Operators Dark blue = Military Light blue = Civilian
A Eurocopter EC 145, in service with the German ADAC air rescue
A EC 145 of the German State Police
An EC 145 of Tuscany 118 (medical Emergency telephone number) Eliambulance Pegaso 1[26]

As of September 2012, the EC145 is in service with a total of 100 customers in 34 countries.[27]

Civilian and government[edit]

 Brazil
 France
 Germany
 Lithuania
 Morocco
 Peru
 Philippines
  Switzerland
 Ukraine
 United Kingdom
 United States

Military[edit]

 Albania
 Bolivia
 Germany
 Kazakhstan
 United States

Specifications (EC145)[edit]

Rear view of an EC 145. Note the clamshell doors for access to the main compartment
Closeup of the tail rotor of an EC145

Data from Eurocopter EC145 technical data,[49] EC 145 specs[50]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 or 2 (pilots)
  • Capacity: 9 passengers
  • Length: 13.03 m (42 ft 9 in)
  • Rotor diameter: 11.0 m (36 ft)
  • Height: 3.45 m (11 ft 4 in)
  • Disc area: 95 m² (1,018 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 1,792 kg (3,951 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 3,585 kg (7,903 lb)
  • Useful load: 1,793 kg (3,953 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 3,585 kg (7,903 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 turboshafts, 550 kW (take-off power) (738 shp) each

Performance

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Gray 2002, p. 30
  2. ^ Gray 2002, p. 30-31.
  3. ^ "1979: BK 117." Eurocopter, Retrieved: 31 March 2013.
  4. ^ Gray 2002, p. 31.
  5. ^ "Eurocopter/Kawasaki fly EC145." Flight International, July 1999, p. 22.
  6. ^ "Low level of interest forces Mitsubishi to halt sales of MH2000." Flight International, November 2004, p. 23.
  7. ^ a b "Eurocopter expands its product line with the EC-145T2 helicopter." Avio News, 7 April 2011.
  8. ^ a b Perry, Dominic. "First Airbus Helicopters EC145 T2 handed to launch customer". Flight International, 1 August 2014.
  9. ^ Perry, Dominic. "Eurocopter demonstrates unmanned EC145." Flight International, 25 April 2013.
  10. ^ Osbourne, Anthony. "Eurocopter Tests Optionally Piloted Capability On EC145." Aviation Week, 25 April 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Technology." Eurocopter, Retrieved: 31 March 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Advanced Technology and Design." Eurocopter, Retrieved: 31 March 2013.
  13. ^ a b c d Bower, Ron. "Flying The EC145." Rotor & Wing, 1 April 2006.
  14. ^ "Eurocopter Teams With French Authorities To Test New Medevac Route." Aero News Network, 28 November 2008.
  15. ^ "Rotorcraft Report: Eurocopter Gets NVG Nod for EC145." Aviation Today, 1 August 2007.
  16. ^ a b "EC145 500th of Eurocopter Ultimate" Youtube, 27 April 2012.
  17. ^ Police Aviation News - Accidents & Incidents
  18. ^ Briganti, Giovanni de. "Aircraft Operations: Taking the EC145 to New Heights." Aviation Today, 1 March 2008.
  19. ^ "UH-72 Light Helicopter Win Lands Eurocopter in US Defense Market." Defense Industry Daily, Retrieved: 31 March 2013.
  20. ^ Sims, Paul. "Ready for flight. Eurocopter delivers first UH-72A to U.S. Army as world's media watches." Starkville Daily News, 12 December 2006.
  21. ^ Schulte, Sebastian. "Germany plans EC145 purchase for special forces." Jane's Defence Weekly, 19 June 2013.
  22. ^ "Kommando Spezialkräfte fliegt künftig Eurocopters Mehrzweckhubschrauber EC645 T2 ." EADS, 11 July 2013.
  23. ^ a b "Germany’s Special Forces Command Set to Fly Eurocopter’s EC645 T2 Light Utility Helicopter". EADS. 11 June 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  24. ^ Quick, Darren. "Eurocopter premieres EC145 Mercedes-Benz Style luxury helicopter in Geneva." Giz Mag, 17 May 2011.
  25. ^ Broadbent 2012, pp. 67–68.
  26. ^ http://www.regione.toscana.it/-/servizio-di-elisoccorso
  27. ^ a b "Eurocopter Delivers the First EC145 to the Bolivian Air Force." Eurocopter, Retrieved : 31 March 2013.
  28. ^ "Bahia State Public Security receive EC145". helihub.com. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  29. ^ "Final EC145 delivered to the French Sécurité Civile". eurocopter.com. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  30. ^ "French National Gendarmerie EC 145". Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  31. ^ "ADAC orders 14 EC145T2 and 3 EC135P2e". helihub.com. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  32. ^ "Landespolizei EC145". Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  33. ^ "Lithuanian Border Guard orders Eurocopter EC 135 and EC 145". eurocopter.com. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  34. ^ "Lithuanian Border Guard Eurocopter EC 145". jetphotos.net. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  35. ^ "Moroccan Royal Gendarmerie recognized for 50 years with Eurocopter". airbushelicopters.com. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  36. ^ "Peruvian National Police order four EC145s". Helihub.com. Retrieved 2013-11-04. 
  37. ^ "Philippine Coast Guard will be getting 1-2 Eurocopters EC145 to boost search and rescue operations". Zambotimes.com. Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  38. ^ "Rega's EC-145 " HB-ZRF"". swissheli.com. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  39. ^ "Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine and Eurocopter sign contract for rescue and emergency missions helicopters". Eurocopter. 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2013-03-10. 
  40. ^ "Metropolitan Police Air Support Unit". met.police.uk. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  41. ^ "Eye in the Sky - PSNI's New EC145 Eurocopter officially launched". psni.police.uk. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  42. ^ "Devon And Cornwall Air Operations Unit Team Blog". devon-cornwall.police.uk. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  43. ^ "University of Utah Health Care". 
  44. ^ "DPS to Showcase Past and Present Resources at Austin Museum Day". txdps.state.tx.us. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  45. ^ "World Air Forces 2014". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  46. ^ http://www.aaf.mil.al/index.php/index.php/komanda-e-faj/315-foto/1278-helikopteri-ec-145
  47. ^ "Germany orders EC645 T2s for special forces". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  48. ^ "World Air Forces 2013". Flightglobal Insight. 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  49. ^ "Eurocopter EC 145 Technical Data" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-07-17. [dead link]
  50. ^ EC145 Technical Specs, Eurocopter USA.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Broadbent, Mark. "Eurocopter Tango Two". Air International, March 2012, Vol 82 No 3. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing. ISSN 0306-5634. pp. 66–69.
  • Gray, Peter. "Flight test: Eurocopter EC145." Flight International, 11 February 2002. pp. 30–34.

External links[edit]