Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma
|H225 Super Puma|
|A Bristow Helicopters EC225LP at Aberdeen Airport|
|Role||Passenger Transport Helicopter|
|First flight||27 November 2000|
|Primary user||CHC Helicopter|
|Number built||150+(as of 2013)|
|Developed from||Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma|
The Airbus Helicopters H225 Super Puma, formerly known as the Eurocopter EC225, is a long-range passenger transport helicopter developed by Eurocopter as the next generation of the civilian Super Puma family. It is a twin-engined aircraft and can carry up to 24 passengers along with 2 crew and a cabin attendant, dependent on customer configuration. The helicopter is marketed for offshore support and VIP passenger transport duties, as well as public service missions.
In the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis, oil & gas companies began exploration and extraction activities further offshore, thus creating a long term need for more capable rotary aircraft. The development of the EC225, an enlarged variant of the AS332 Super Puma, was announced by Eurocopter in June 1998. The principle differences of the EC225 from the preceding AS332 are the adoption of Spheriflex rotor technology and new FADEC-controlled Turbomeca Makila 2A turboshaft engines, along with a redesigned main gearbox to accommodate the rotor and engine changes, and the addition of an integrated flight display system; these changes resulted in higher speeds and comfort, as well as greater flight safety and reduced operating costs. On 27 November 2000, the first prototype performed its maiden flight. In July 2004, the type received its airworthiness certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency.
In February 2014, Airbus Helicopters announced at Heli-Expo 2014 that they were developing an improved variant of the helicopter, the EC225e. The EC225e shall feature numerous changes such as new avionics systems, such as the TCAS II collision avoidance system, an automatic identification system, and a specialized rig-approach system; it also features an improved Turbomeca Makila 2B engine to increase the EC225e's maximum takeoff weight by 550 kg, and an additional fuel tank in the rear baggage compartment to extend its range to 300 nautical miles with up to ten passengers on board. Some, but not all, modifications can be retrofitted onto existing EC225s. In the same announcement in February 2014, Lease Corporation International said that they had placed a $645 million order for 15 EC225e (along with 6 Airbus Helicopters EC175) helicopters as the launch customer for the improved variant.
In 2015, Airbus Helicopters announced at the Paris Air Show that it had begun development of a clean-sheet successor to the EC225, initially designated X6. The EC225's production line has been projected to continue manufacturing activity until around 2030, initially overlapping with its successor.
The EC225 is based on the Eurocopter AS332L2 Super Puma, improving upon the design with a five-blade main rotor incorporating a new airfoil shape to reduce vibration and noise levels. The blades of the rotors feature a composite spar and parabolic blade tips; they can also be equipped with an anti-icing system to enable the aircraft to operate within very cold climates. The helicopter is powered by two Turbomeca Makila 2A1 turboshaft engines mounted over the cabin; these engines are capable of providing 14 per cent more engine power and feature a redundant dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system for high reliability, a further backup system is present in the event of both FADEC systems failing. The FADEC system ensures that engine power is always kept within the limits of the gearbox. Many of the mechanical components, particularly of the engines, were designed to be modular to ease maintenance, and composite materials were used where possible to reduce the aircraft's weight.
A key safety feature of the aircraft's transmission is an emergency oil spraying sub-system present in the lubrication system; this is designed to exceed the JAR 29 Standard requirements of a 30-minute running time in the event of the loss of engine oil pressure, and has demonstrated up to 50-minute running time. The engines also incorporate a 'blade shedding' system to ensure engine integrity during an overspeed instance. Energy absorbent self-sealing fuel tanks are contained in the aircraft's sponsons, along with other equipment such as downward-facing illumination and navigation lighting fixtures. The transmission can accommodate more power than the maximum output of the engines; however two aircraft were lost in 2012 due to cracking of the bevel gear shaft, a gearbox component. In response, the design of the transmission was modified in 2013, and the onboard health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) was upgraded to provide real-time monitoring of the bevel gear shaft against the threat of crack formation.
In terms of cockpit equipment and avionics, the EC225 is equipped with a full glass cockpit with active-matrix liquid crystal displays; these include four 6-inch by 8-inch multi-functional displays as the predominant instrumentation for key flight information, two 4-inch by 5-inch monitors for displaying aircraft parameters, and a 3-inch screen for backup. The Advanced Helicopter Cockpit and Avionics System is described as serving to reduce pilot and crew workload, being used to display flight management and sub-systems information and is complete with a 4-axis digital autopilot. During a typical flight, the pilot programs the route into the aircraft and then monitors it, as opposed to direct continuous control of the flight; the need for paper charts has been eliminated by these systems. Under autopilot, the automatic flight control system acts to prevent pilot actions from exceeding the established flight envelope; the EC225 remains flyable with all automatic systems disabled. From initiating the startup sequence to being ready to takeoff only takes three minutes.
There are currently a total of four principle configurations designed by Airbus Helicopters for the EC225. The passenger transport version has a crash-worthy seating arrangement for up to 19 passengers, a high-density seating arrangement accommodating up to 28 passengers can also be fitted. The VIP transport version has a large VIP lounge with seating for 8–12 passengers and a cabin attendant. The emergency medical services (EMS) configuration has medical units for 6 stretchers and 4 seats for medical workers. Finally, the search and rescue (SAR) configuration allows for search & rescue equipment with an operator seat, hoistman seat and up to 8 rescue seats and 3 stretchers. While a single pilot is capable of controlling the aircraft under visual meteorical conditions, two pilots are used in a typical crew compliment and, dependent on role, a cabin attendant or flight engineer may also be present.
The EC225 was a candidate for the Norwegian All Weather Search and Rescue Helicopter (NAWSARH) to replace the Westland Sea King Mk.43B of the Royal Norwegian Air Force in 2015; other candidates were the AgustaWestland AW101, Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, NHIndustries NH90 and Sikorsky S-92. By 9 July 2013, only the AW101 and the EC225 remained as contenders; in December 2013, the AW101 was selected instead.
In 2009, the AirKnight consortium offered the EC225 in competition against the Sikorsky S-92 offered by the Soteria Search and Rescue consortium for the United Kingom's Search and Rescue – Helicopter (SAR-H) program to replace the RAF Search and Rescue Force's Westland Sea King fleet. In 2010, Soteria was awarded the contract; however, in 2011 the contract was halted as Soteria had access to confidential information. In 2013, the Department for Transport awarded Bristow Group the SAR-H contract, operating a mix of Sikorsky S-92 and AgustaWestland AW189 instead.
By 2011, CHC Helicopter had the largest operational fleet of EC225s, the type comprising a fifth of the firm's total rotorcraft by 2015. CHC principally use the type for serving the offshore oil and gas industries, as well as search and rescue missions. Another milestone was reached in 2011 when Eurocopter delivered the 100th production EC225 to Bristow Group.
Due to its popularity in offshore passenger transport, the EC225 is also commonly used as an offshore Search and Rescue aircraft, with operators based in Norway, the UK and Australia. In this role, aircraft are typically equipped with a Dual Rescue Hoist, FLIR camera, high-powered searchlights and an advanced autopilot with autohover capability. The EC225 has also been used as an aerial firefighting platform, it can be equipped with a Simplex Aerospace-developed water cannon for dealing with fires in built-up urban areas, both Japan and South Korea operate several aircraft adapted in this manner.
Following 22 October 2012 crash, the major North Sea Super Puma operators, CHC Helicopter, Bond Offshore Helicopters and Bristow Helicopters decided to ground all AS332 and EC225 Super Puma helicopters. On 25 October 2012 it was announced that the problem was suspected to relate to the main gearbox vertical shaft; the AS 332 L1 and L2 versions of the Super Puma could be refitted with an older design, allowing them to resume flying. On 8 November 2012 some Super Pumas of Bond Offshore Helicopters returned to flight. The EC225 grounding continued into 2013, following the validation of new safety measures by the EASA, the type was progressively returned to service following modifications. By mid-2015, all 49 EC225s operating in the North Sea fleets in the UK had been retrofitted with a redesigned bevel wheel vertical shaft to avoid any reoccurrence.
In March 2015, the Japan Coast Guard accepted delivery of its fifth and final EC225; outfitted for performing search and rescue missions, they shall also be used for security enforcement, territorial sea enforcement/monitoring and disaster relief operations.
- EC225 LP
- An improved variant of the AS332 L2.
- EC225 Firefighting/SAR
- EC225 with water bombing kits, FLIR, and all-weather radar for search, rescue, and firefighting operations.
- Republic of China
- Ministerial Air Liaisons Group
- United Kingdom
Notable accidents and incidents
- 18 February 2009: G-REDU, an EC225 LP operated by Bond Offshore Helicopters. During a night visual approach to the ETAP platform, the helicopter descended and impacted the surface of the sea. The crew's perception of the helicopter's position and orientation relative to the platform during the final approach was erroneous. All 18 people onboard survived the controlled flight into terrain (water).
- 10 May 2012: G-REDW, an EC225 LP, carried out a controlled ditching following indications of a failure of the main gearbox (MGB) lubrication system and a subsequent failure indication warning on the emergency lubrication system. An investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) identified a 360° circumferential crack in the bevel gear vertical shaft in the main gearbox, in the vicinity of a manufacturing weld, causing disengagement of the drive to both mechanical oil pumps.
- 22 October 2012: G-CHCN, an EC225 LP of CHC Scotia, ditched in the north sea 32 miles south west of Shetland whilst en route from Aberdeen to the West Phoenix drilling rig. All 19 on board were rescued. A special bulletin issued by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the main and standby oil pumps were not working; a 360-degree crack found on the bevel gear vertical shaft of the gearbox had prevented the oil pump gears from being driven. A worldwide grounding of the type was initiated in response. In both of the 2012 incidents, although the main gearbox lubrication system had failed, the backup system was working correctly but displaying an erroneous warning light, due to an incorrect specification of a pressure switch, which lead to the helicopters being ditched.
Specifications (EC 225)
|EC225 – Bevel Gear Vertical Shaft Process|
|Cockpit view of an EC225 taxiing and taking off|
|EC225 in firefighting operations|
Data from Airbus Helicopters
- Crew: 2 (commander + co-pilot)
- Capacity: 24 passengers + 1 cabin attendant
- Length: 19.5 m (64 ft 0 in)
- Height: 4.97 m (16 ft 4 in)
- Empty weight: 5,256 kg (11,587 lb)
- Gross weight: 11,000 kg (24,251 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 11,200 kg (24,692 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Turbomeca Makila 2A1 turboshaft engines, 1,776 kW (2,382 hp) each
- Main rotor diameter: 16.2 m (53 ft 2 in)
- Main rotor area: 206.15 m2 (2,219.0 sq ft)
- Maximum speed: 275.5 km/h (171 mph; 149 kn)
- Cruising speed: 260.5 km/h (162 mph; 141 kn)
- Never exceed speed: 324 km/h (201 mph; 175 kn)
- Range: 857 km (533 mi; 463 nmi)
- Ferry range: 985 km (612 mi; 532 nmi)
- Service ceiling: 5,900 m (19,357 ft)
- Rate of climb: 8.7 m/s (1,710 ft/min)
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
- CHC Helicopter (2010). "CHC Fleet". Retrieved 11 January 2011.
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- "Simplex Aerospace Receives Order for High Rise Firefighting System for Japan." simplex.aero, 12 August 2013.
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- Earl, Ed. "Three brand-new Super Pumas join North Sea fleet." Evening Express, 2 May 2015.
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- – EC225 firefighting variant
- "Airbus Helicopters Presses Ahead With New Models". ainonline.com. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
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- "Eurocopter delivers fourth EC225 to China for offshore SAR". helihub.com. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
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- "Japan Defense Agency received first EC225 in VIP configuration for the Japanese Emperor's Royal Flight Service.". eurocopter.com. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eurocopter EC 225.|
- Eurocopter EC 225 Technical Data Manual
- Aerospace Technology – Eurocopter EC 225
- Deagel.com – EC225 / EC 225 Super Puma