Airbus Helicopters H135
|An EC135T used by Avon and Somerset Constabulary|
|Role||Light utility helicopter|
|First flight||15 February 1994|
|Number built||over 1000 (2011)|
|Developed from||MBB Bo 105|
The Airbus Helicopters H135, formerly known as the Eurocopter EC135, is a twin-engine civil helicopter produced by Airbus Helicopters (formerly known as Eurocopter). It is capable of flight under instrument flight rules (IFR) and is outfitted with digital flight controls. It entered service in 1996; over a thousand aircraft have been produced to date. It is widely used by police and ambulance services and for executive transport; by 2013, more than 500 EC135s were providing helicopter emergency medical services across the world. While the H135 is primarily used by civil operators, a combat-capable military-orientated variant of the H135, designated as the H135M, has also been produced.
The EC135 started development prior to the formation of Eurocopter under Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) under the designation Bo 108 in the 1970s. MBB developed it in partnership with Aérospatiale, the Bo 108 was initially intended to be a technology demonstrator, combining attributes of the successful MBB Bo 105 with new advances and an aerodynamically streamlined design. Technologies included on the Bo 108 included the first full-authority digital engine controls (FADEC) on a helicopter, a bearingless main rotor, and the adoption of a new transmission. The first prototype made its first flight on 17 October 1988, powered by two Allison 250-C20R/1 engines. A second BO 108 followed on 5 June 1991, this time with two Turbomeca TM319-1B Arrius engines; unlike later production aircraft, both technology demonstrators flew with conventional tail rotors.
In the late 1990s, the design was revised with the introduction of the Fenestron tail rotor system, an advanced rigid main rotor, composite materials, and resonance isolation systems. It was decided to pursue a full certification program, resulting in the production of two pre-production prototypes; at the same time, it was chosen to give the BO-108 a new designation of EC135 to correspond with the newly created Eurocopter company. At this point, it was decided that the EC135 should be developed with the option of being powered by two competing engines, the Turbomeca Arrius 2B and the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B engines; two pre-production prototypes were built in 1994 powered by either engine, both powerplants proved to be successful and were used on subsequent production aircraft.
In January 1995, the EC135 made its first public appearance at the Heli-Expo convention at Las Vegas, at which prospective buyers were reportedly impressed with its appearance and performance figures. Another feature which became apparent upon entering service was the low noise levels produced, in part due to its fenestron tail, the EC135 was the quietest aircraft in its class for more than 15 years. Despite the helicopter's design being primarily orientated towards emergency medical operators, the EC135 had considerable appeal to a wide range of operators. European JAA certification was achieved on 16 June 1996, with FAA approval following on 31 July.
On 2 December 1999, the EC135 was granted single-pilot IFR (SPIFR) certification by Germany's Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (LBA). In December 2000, the United Kingdom's Civil Aviation Authority also gave the EC135 SPIFR certification.
In 2000, Eurocopter announced the start of certification work on the EC135P2, powered by the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B2, offering improved single-engine performance and 30 second emergency power. The LBA certification was achieved on 10 July 2001, and the first EC135 with the new engines was handed over to the Swedish National Police on 10 August 2001. In September 2002, the EC135T2 equipped with the improved Turbomeca Arrius 2B2 was made available, also providing for improved single-engine performance.
In 2002, the EC135 Active Control Technology demonstrator/Flying Helicopter Simulator (ACT/FHS), a research aircraft designed to test fibre optic-based flight control systems, undertook its first flight. In 2014, Airbus Helicopters began flying the Bluecopter Demonstrator aircraft, built to explore more efficient design elements, including economy-optimised single-engine operations, Blue Edge swept rotor blades to reduce noise and increase efficiency, a relocated horizontal stabilizer outside the main rotor's downwash, an active rudder, and new water-based external paint; these changes were aimed at cutting fuel consumption by 40%.
At the NBAA in March 2007 in Atlanta, Eurocopter unveiled ‘L’Hélicoptère par Hermès, a special-edition VIP model designed by Hermès International, S.A.; it features a customized luxury four-place main cabin, a sliding glass partition, a corporate baggage hold, redesigned skid landing gear and other external changes. The launch customer for the type is Falcon Aviation Services (FAS), based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In July 2014, Airbus Helicopters announced that it was making further personalization options available for the EC135 l’Helicoptere par Hermes.
In 2011, Eurocopter entered the Chinese business market licensing the Zhong-Ou International Group to produce the EC135 Luxury Helicopter in the Province of Zhejiang.
Two improved variants, the EC135 T3 and EC135 P3, were developed with improved high altitude and hover performance. Changes include repositioned air intakes to the engines, wider blades being installed on the main rotor, and changes to the fenstron anti-torque tail device. The EC135 T3 was introduced to service in December 2014.
The EC135 is alternatively powered by a pair of either Turbomeca Arrius 2B and the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B engines; customers can opt to have either engine equip their aircraft. Combined with the four-bladed, bearingless fiber-composite main rotor, the EC135 is capable of "impressive performance. As the type has been further developed, the main rotor has been redesigned for greater performance and to reduce its maintenance requirements. The EC135 has held the distinction of being the quietest helicopter in its class; it also features an anti-resonance isolation system to dampen vibrations from the main rotor for increased passenger comfort. The EC135 has been outfitted with various avionics suites; amongst others, Russian firm Transas Aviation and British company Britannia 2000 have offered mission avionics for the type.
The EC135 can be equipped by either a conventional flight deck or the Avionique Novelle glass cockpit, the latter of which enables single pilot instrument flight rules operations. The glass cockpit is equipped with several liquid-crystal display units, these comprise the two Sextant SMD45 displays and the central panel display system. The main avionics suite is supplied by Thales Group. The EC135 is equipped with a three-axis autopilot, which has integrated stability augmentation; it also features the Eurocopter-developed First Limit Indicator (FLI), which simplifies engine and torque monitoring. The EC135 also has a HI NR rotor optimization mode for increasing the fenestron anti-torque device's effectiveness during takeoff and landing, allowing for control to be maintained at higher weights.
Various cabin and cockpit configurations are available for the EC135, depending on the role performed and the operator's selections; it has room for five passengers and a pilot when fitted with a standard executive interior, a more dense corporate interior can seat seven passengers. Some operators have adopted multi-role interiors that allow the main cabin area to be quickly changed and re-equipped depending upon the anticipated need. The main cabin of the EC135 is accessed either by large doors on either side of the cabin, or by clamshell doors located at the rear of the cabin, directly underneath the aircraft's tail boom; the clamshell doors are particularly attractive to emergency medical services and cargo operators. In a mountain rescue configuration, the cabin can be simultaneously accommodate two stretchers as well as the pilot, anaesthetist, winch operator, mechanic and mountain rescue specialist.
Deliveries started on 1 August 1996, when two helicopters (0005 and 0006) were handed over to Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht. The 100th EC135 was handed over to the Bavarian police force in June 1999; by which point the worldwide fleet had accumulated approximately 30,000 flight hours. In September 2003, the 300th EC135 was handed over to UK-based McAlpine Helicopters; at this point, the EC135 was the best selling new light twin-engine helicopter in the UK market.
In 2011, Eurocopter announced that the 1,000th EC135 to be produced had been delivered to German operator ADAC, roughly 15 years following the start of production. In 2012, Flying Magazine recognised the EC135 as being "the industry's best selling twin-engine helicopter". The world fleet leader in flight hours for the type is G-NESV (s/n 0067), operated by Cleveland Police Air Operations Unit based at Durham Tees Valley Airport, UK. Originally delivered to the North East Air Support Unit in April 1999, it was the first EC135 worldwide to attain a total of 10,000 flying hours.
In 2009, the EC135 was the first aircraft selected for offshore wind support in the UK after the Civil Aviation Authority approved helicopter operations to the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm. The EC135 has also been used in Denmark to support the Horns Rev offshore wind farm, by 2013, over 10,000 successful personnel transfers have taken place using the type. In Mexico, Apoyo Logístico Aéreo has operated a fleet of EC135s for servicing the extensive oil and gas offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
In 2013, it was reported that the EC135 was currently providing roughly 25% of the world's total emergency medic services flights, and that over 500 EC135s have been delivered to in an aeromedical configuration. By late 2013, during which a brief grounding of the type was instigated due to safety concerns of fuel gauges, it was noted that the EC135 made up half of the UK's operational air ambulance fleet. In October 2014, the first EC135 air ambulance to be delivered in the Chinese market took place.
The German Army operates a total of 14 EC135s as basic trainers at the School of Army Aviation in Bückeburg, these have had an average operational availability in excess of 95 per cent; in 2014, the German Army noted that there was potential for vibration-induced rotor cracking during auto-rotation training, shortening the life of the main rotor. In October 2014, the Australian Department of Defence announced that the EC135 would be procured as the primary training platform for both the Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy. A total of 13 EC135 trainers have been procured by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, they have been designed as the TH-135.
In December 2014, the first production EC135 T3 formally entered service with Aiut Alpin Dolomites, a mountain rescue operator based in Italy. In June 2015, Airbus Helicopters delivered the first retrofitted H135 from the earlier EC135 standard; changes include an enlarged main rotor, relocated engine air intakes, elevated engine performance, and the horizontal stabilizer’s endplates removed and its span increased.
- EC135 P1
- Powered by two 463 kW (621 shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B (ratings correspond to Take-Off Power (TOP)). Later versions have the Center Panel Display System (CPDS). Initial maximum take-off weight (M.T.O.W.) of 2,630 kg (5,798 lbs), later raised to 2,720 kg (5,997 lbs) and then 2,835 kg (6,250 lbs).
- EC135 T1
- Powered by two 435 kW (583 shp)(TOP rating) Turbomeca Arrius 2B1/2B1A/2B1A1. Later versions have the CPDS. Initial M.T.O.W. of 2,630 kg (5,798 lbs), later raised to 2,720 kg (5,997 lbs) and then 2,835 kg (6,250 lbs).
- EC135 P2
- Powered by two 463 kW (621 shp) (TOP rating) Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B2. Increased thermodynamic and mechanic OEI ratings (128% OEI torque). Replaced EC135 P1 in production in August 2001.
- EC135 T2
- Powered by two 452 kW (606 shp) (TOP rating) Turbomeca Arrius 2B2. Increased thermodynamic and mechanic OEI ratings (128% OEI torque). Replaced EC135 T1 in production in August 2002.
- EC135 P2+ (Marketing name EC135 P2i)
- Latest current production version with 498 kW (667 shp) PW206B2 (new power ratings based on a FADEC software upgrade), plus a 2,910 kg (6,415 lbs) M.T.O.W. upgrade, extended component time between overhaul (TBOs), and a change in the main transmission lubricating oil. Built in Germany and Spain.
- EC135 T2+ (Marketing name EC135 T2i)
- Latest current production version with 473 kW (634 shp) Arrius 2B2 engines (new power ratings based on a FADEC software upgrade), plus a 2,910 kg (6,415 lbs) M.T.O.W. upgrade, extended component TBOs, and a change in the main transmission lubricating oil. Built in Germany and Spain.
- EC135 P2+ (Marketing name EC135 P2e)
- Marketing designation of aircraft with increased M.T.O.W. of 2,950 kg (6,504 lbs) within restricted flight envelope.
- EC135 T2+ (Marketing name EC135 T2e)
- Marketing designation of aircraft with increased M.T.O.W. of 2,950 kg (6,504 lbs) within restricted flight envelope.
- EC135 P3
- Powered by two 528 kW (708 shp) (TOP rating) PW206B3 engines (new power ratings based on a FADEC software upgrade), plus a 2,980 kg (6,570 lbs) M.T.O.W. upgrade, and significant increased OEI, Cat A, and hot/high performance. Market introduction in 2014.
- EC135 T3
- Powered by two 492 kW (660 shp) (TOP rating) Arrius 2B2Plus engines (new power ratings based on a FADEC software upgrade), plus a 2,980 kg (6,570 lbs) M.T.O.W. upgrade, and significant increased OEI, Cat A, and hot/high performance. Market introduction in 2014.
- Military variant originally developed to meet a Portuguese Army requirement for a fire support and medical evacuation helicopter. Presently, operated by Jordan, Swiss and Iraqi armed forces.
- Military training variant developed from the EC135 T2+.
The EC135 is popular with air charter companies, air ambulance operators and is operated by private individuals and companies.
- North West Air Ambulance(operated by Bond Air Services) 
- Police Scotland (operated by Bond Air Services)
- Scottish Ambulance Service (operated by Bond Air Services)
- Northern Lighthouse Board (operated by Bond Air Services)
- National Police Air Service
- Broward County Sheriff
- Massachusetts State Police
- University of Tennessee Medical Center LIFESTAR air ambulance
Accidents and incidents
- On 29 November 2013, a Police Scotland EC135 T2 crashed into a pub in Glasgow, Scotland. Three occupants of the aircraft were killed, as well as seven patrons of the pub. The cause of the accident is under investigation.
Specifications (EC135 P2+/T2+)
|An EC135 Landing on a yacht|
|Pair of medical EC135s in formation flight|
|EC135 P-2+ performing a flight demonstration|
Data from Eurocopter EC135 2008 Tech Data book
- Crew: 1 pilot
- Capacity: up to seven passengers or two crew and two patients (Air Ambulance variant) or 1,455 kg (3,208 lb) payload
- Length: 12.16 m (39 ft 11 in)
- Height: 3.51 m (11 ft 6 in)
- Empty weight: 1,455 kg (3,208 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 2,910 kg (6,415 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Turbomeca Arrius 2B2 turboshaft engines, 472 kW (633 hp) each
or 2 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B turboshaft engines rated at 463 kW (621 hp) (take-off power)
- Main rotor diameter: 10.2 m (33 ft 6 in)
- Main rotor area: 81.7 m2 (879 sq ft)
- Cruising speed: 254 km/h (158 mph; 137 kn)
- Never exceed speed: 287 km/h (178 mph; 155 kn)
- Range: 635 km (395 mi; 343 nmi)
- Service ceiling: 6,096 m (20,000 ft)
- Rate of climb: 7.62 m/s (1,500 ft/min)
- Related development
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- MD Helicopters MD Explorer
- MBB/Kawasaki BK 117
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- Related lists
- "Eurocopter officially hands over its 1,000th EC135 helicopter to the ADAC". Eurocopter, 21 July 2011.
- "VIDEO: Meet the H Generation." Airbus Helicopters, 3 March 2015.
- Pope 2006, p. 1.
- Benenson 2004. p. 86.
- Pope 2006, pp. 1-2.
- Benenson 2004. p. 87.
- Pope 2006, p. 2.
- Pope 2006, p. 3.
- Rimmer, David. "EC 135 Gains Single-Pilot Certification." Business & Commercial Aviation, January 2001, Vol. 88 Issue 1. p. 17.
- Benenson 2004. p. 89.
- "Fly-by-light EC135 helicopter makes first flight." Flight International, 5 February 2002.
- Dubois, Thierry. "Airbus Helicopters Unveils Bluecopter Demonstrator." AIN Online, 7 July 2015.
- "Eurocopter and Hermès deliver first EC135 'l'Hélicoptère par Hermès'." Business Jet Interiors International, Retrieved: 31 May 2015.
- Wynbrandt, James. "Web Extra: More Personalization Options for Hermes EC135." AIN Online, 16 July 2014.
- "EC135 Helicopter to be built in China". Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- Nathan, Stuart. "Helicopters give latest technologies a whirl." The Engineer, 12 December 2014.
- "Eurocopter shows the capability of its helicopters at MAKS 2011." Force, September 2012.
- "CAMC selected as NPAS EC135 mission system." Shepard Media, 17 November 2014.
- Benenson 2004. pp. 89-90.
- Pope 2006, p. 4.
- Benenson 2004. pp. 89, 91.
- Derby, Paul. "Landmark delivery for Eurocopter EC135." Flight International, 17 June 1999.
- Benenson 2004. p. 90.
- "Eurocopter delivers 1000th EC135." shephardmedia.com, 21 July 2011.
- "NPAS Newcastle." Twitter, 31 March 2013.
- EC135 Selected for Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm
- UK Civil Aviation offshore wind guidelines for helicopter operations
- "Uni-Fly A/S Rescue from Windturbine". YouTube. 30 August 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- "Uni-Fly A/S". Uni-fly.dk. Retrieved 2013-05-05.
- "Eurocopter reinforces its Gulf of Mexico presence: Apoyo Logístico Aéreo orders another EC135 helicopter for off-shore oil and gas missions." Airbus Helicopters, 6 March 2013.
- Ozbek, Tolga. "EC135 picked for Turkish air ambulance duties." Flight International, 9 May 2013.
- Roberts, Liz. "Fuel-gauge worry grounds almost half Britain's air ambulances." Grough, 12 December 2013.
- "Airbus Helicopters delivers China's first EC135 fully-equipped air ambulance." Aviation World News, 9 October 2014.
- Tomkins, Richard. "Airbus Helicopters continues support for German Army pilot training." United Press International, 17 December 2014.
- "Auto-rotation training drives German army light-twin requirement." Flight International, 25 June 2014.
- McLaughlin, Andrew. "Australia confirms HATS win for Boeing/Thales EC135 bid." Flight International, 25 October 2014.
- "Japan military receives TH-135 trio from Airbus Helicopters." Vertical, 5 December 2014.
- "Turbomeca Celebrates Arrius 2B2plus Entry-into-Service on EC135 T3." Newswire today, 10 December 2014.
- Spruce, Terry. "Airbus Helicopters delivers first upgraded H135." Helicopter Invester, 18 June 2015.
- "Airbus Helicopters Upgrades Bavarian Police H135s." Aviation Today, 17 June 2015.
- "Type Acceptance Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-05-05.
- Dubois, Thierry. "Deliveries of Airbus Helicopters EC135 T3/P3 Delayed." AIN Online, 25 February 2014.
World_Air_Forces_2014was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
Cite error: The named reference
- "World Air Forces 2013" (PDF). Flightglobal Insight. 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- "Gabon's new Helicopter!". smallairforces.com. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
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- "Materiales - Helicópteros - HE-26". Ministerio de Defensa de España. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
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- "Allgemeines". polizei.rlp.de. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "Garda Air Support Unit (GASU)". 2014. An Garda Síochána. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
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- "Hoe ziet de luchtvloot er uit?". politie.nl. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
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- Dirección General de la Policía. "Servicio de Medios Aéreos-Helicópteros". Retrieved 20 March 2013.
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- "Swedish Police to add seventh base and another EC135". helihub.com. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
- "Press Story". Bond Aviation Group. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- "Glasgow City Heliport Based Aircraft". ukemergencyaviation.co.uk. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- "Northern Lighthouse Board upgrading to EC135". helihub.com. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
- "National Police Air Service (NPAS)". .durham.police.uk. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- "Broward County Sheriff orders third EC135". helihub.com. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- "State Police Airwing Section". mass.gov. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "LIFESTAR UT Medical Center". http://www.utmedicalcenter.org. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
- "Glasgow helicopter crash: Nine dead at Clutha pub". BBC News. 30 November 2013.
- "Glasgow helicopter crash: ninth body recovered". BBC News. 2 December 2013.
- "Special Bulletin: S9/2013 - Eurocopter EC135 T2+, G-SPAO". 9 December 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Airbus Helicopters EC135.|
|Cutaway drawing of EC-135|
- Eurocopter - EC135
- Eurocopter EC135 ‘L’Hélicoptère par Hermès’
- RTH.info - Eurocopter EC135 (in German)
- European Aviation Safety Agency Type Certificate Data Sheet
- BlueSkyRotor.com- Performance datasheet of EC135 T2+