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EUROPE - MIDDLE EAST - AMERICAS - AFRICA - ASIA - RUSSIA

#103


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EUROPE - MIDDLE EAST - AMERICAS - AFRICA - ASIA - RUSSIA

#103

30

MANUFACTURER

HX50: the new British

industrial project

By François BLANC

02

EDITORIAL

BREAKING

NEWS

By Frédéric VERGNÈRES

MILITARARY

ALAT at the top

By Frédéric LERT

4

38

FAREWELL

Lynx: forty years

in the service of

France

By Frédéric Vergnères

PARAPUBLIC

The Dragon’s new approach

By Frédéric VERGNÈRES

16

44

LEGACY

The X3, ten years after

By Frédéric LERT

OPERATOR

Power and precision

By Frédéric LERT

22

50

HI I 1


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I EDITORIAL I

ARNAUD DEVRIENDT I DIRECTEUR DE LA PUBLICATION

Even from the sky, the world seems to be crawling along: less planes in the airspace, reduced rail traffic and a less

frequented road network. Government arrangements made here and there across the world impart a new rhythm

to the populations. The world health crisis is not yet behind us.

At that moment, the helicopter industry strives to maintain as normal as possible activity. Pending orders must be

fulfilled, what certain provisions guarantee. Nowadays, the consequences of the word health crisis are not really

felt. Based on long lifecycles, military and civil production as well as new aircrafts sells are not subjected to strong

pressure, either promised some decline in the short term.

As in any crisis, especially when it takes on such a scale, operators focus on their missions as soon as the

contractors have maintained them. In the military and parapublic sector, operational maintenance, training

exercises and generally speaking state aircrafts action run their course.

In such a context, the industrial project of a British engineer and Hill Helicopters founder makes us dream of an

enchanting tomorrow. Jason Hill patiently bided his time before he unveiled his vision of the high-end private

helicopter, shaped it and made it alive. Let’s be careful what he’s up to. Although he’s not the only one to work on

the near future of the vertical flight, his approach during such a special period conceals very exciting perspectives.

We invite you to discover our website

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helicopter-industry.com

HI I 2


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HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I BREAKING NEWS I

©US Navy

HI I 4


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HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I BREAKING NEWS

©Airbus helicopters

PNG LNG ADDS H145 FOR PAPUA NEW GUINEA OPERATIONS

ExxonMobil has signed a contract for two Airbus H145 helicopters to support the PNG LNG Project in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The new H145 model with a five-blade, bearingless main rotor provides a 150kg increase in useful load.

The aircraft will be based at the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant (HGCP) in Hela Province of the PNG Highlands, and will be used to

transport personnel and equipment in support of PNG LNG Project operations.

In addition to its reliability and superior economics, the new H145’s «hot and high» performance was critical to its selection for use in an

environment requiring routine operations at an altitude of 5,400ft in temperatures up to 35ºC.

The sale is the first by Airbus Helicopters to ExxonMobil and the first order in the oil and gas sector for the new H145 in the Asia Pacific

region.

Ben Bridge, Executive Vice President Global Business, for Airbus Helicopters said «It’s an honour to win the confidence of a safety and

performance focused customer like ExxonMobil for operations in PNG’s highly demanding operational environment. The new H145 has made

a strong start in the market and it’s clear that it has a great future across multiple market segments.»

MORE ABOUT AIRBUS HELICOPTERS

HI I 6


©Russian Helicopters

RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS DELIVERS FIRST ANSAT TO A CLIENT IN EUROPE

Russian Helicopters has delivered a first Ansat helicopter to a client in Europe. The operator of the rotorcraft, which is equipped for

medical operations, is the Ministry of Interior of the Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina). This is the first of three helicopters

under the delivery contract.

Ansat for Republika Srpska comes with a medical module equipped with a stretcher and a medical shelf. The helicopter cabin has

place for transporting one patient and two chairs for accompanying doctors. Equipment configuration includes a system for artificial

lung ventilation, tele-ECG allowing to monitor cardiac activity in real time, and various other equipment for the evacuation of patients of

varying severity. The delivery set includes five seats, which can be installed instead of the medical module and carry 7 passengers in the

helicopter cabin. The helicopter also comes with active vibration control system.

«This delivery testifies that Ansat is competitive on the European market, and we see potential for new orders. I am confident that European

operators will appreciate the favorable cost of operating the helicopter, its versatility and reliability. Two more Ansats will be handed over to the

law enforcement agencies of Republika Srpska in 2021 and 2022. They will be additionally equipped with searchlights, fast-rope deployment

system, a winch and an external sling», said the Director General of Russian Helicopters holding company Andrey Boginsky.

The delivery contract of three helicopters to the Republic of Srpska also included the training of three technicians and two pilots of

the customer in the Kazan Helicopters Aviation Training Center. The program included training in the design and maintenance of the

airframe, power plant and systems of Ansat helicopter for aircraft technicians, as well as theoretical training, classes on the new Ansat

simulator and practical flight training for pilots. The cadets successfully passed the exams and received documents that confirm their

qualifications. The Aviation Training Center will provide further multi-stage training of flight and technical personnel as more helicopters

are delivered. During the next 2 years, 4 more pilots and 6 technicians will go through training.

MORE ABOUT ANSAT

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HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I BREAKING NEWS

©Helinetwork

HELINETWORK INTERNATIONAL SIGNS AN AGREEMENT

WITH THALES AVIONICS ELECTRICAL

Helinetwork International specialist in the sale of new and overhauled parts for civil and military helicopters announces the signature

of a distribution agreement with THALES AVIONICS ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS (AES).

THALES AES, is a subsidiary of THALES Group specialized in the design, manufacture and support of electrical generation and conversion

equipment for the aeronautics industry.

The starter generators designed by Thales AES will bring maintenance gains thanks to increased reliability and performance.

For Thales AES, the partnership with Helinetwork International will enable the company to extend its market coverage, particularly in

the digital market.

This agreement is an opportunity for Helinetwork International to increase its presence in the aerospace sector by adding a new major

to its list of official manufacturers. Helinetwork International is also an authorized distributor of de SAFRAN, COLLINS AEROSPACE,

LACE, TECH-TOOL PLASTICS, etc.

Rotorplace, the world’s leading helicopter parts e-commerce website, enables operators, manufacturers and workshops to find a wide

range of parts with just a few clicks. All the products on the site come directly from the manufacturers’ stocks with the same guarantees.

MORE ABOUT HELINETWORK

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©Russian Helicopters

RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS DELIVERS FIRST BATCH OF HELICOPTER KNOCK-DOWN KITS

TO KAZAKHSTAN

The Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant of the Russian Helicopters holding has delivered two Mi-8AMT helicopter knock-down kits to Kazakhstan to

be assembled on the territory of the customer.

The delivery is based on a trilateral contract signed by Kazakhstan Engineering, Kazakhstan’s Aircraft Repair Plant No. 405 and Russian

Helicopters for semi-knock-down (SKD) assembly of Mi-8AMT / Mi-171E helicopters. The contract, signed in 2019, provides for a total

of 17 helicopter kits during 2020-2022.

The main customers for the Mi-8AMT helicopters in Kazakhstan are the National Guard under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and

the Committee for Emergency Situations. The first batch of Mi-8AMT kits will assembled for the needs of the Committee for Emergency

Situations. «I’m confident that successful implementation of the semi-knock-down assembly project of Mi-8AMT / Mi-171 helicopters in

Kazakhstan will become a significant step forward in the development of the country’s helicopter industry and will allow local enterprises to

increase their scientific and technical potential», said Leonid Belykh, Managing Director of the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant.

Assembly and adaptation of the helicopters to the customer’s requirements will be carried out by the Aircraft Repair Plant No. 405 in the

city of Almaty. The plant holds the greatest competencies in repairing and maintaining this helicopter type in the Central Asian region.

The plant is certified by both Kazakhstan and international authorities for the repair, modernization and maintenance of Mi-8/17/171

helicopters.The assembled helicopters will be tasked with transportation of passengers and goods, emergency rescue operations,

forest protection, firefighting, ambulance services and law enforcement operations.

The operational experience and extensive service network of the Aircraft Repair Plant No. 405 will provide integrated service support

for customers in the field of deployment.

Kazakhstan has been a long-term partner of the Russian Helicopters and the country operates dozens of Mi-8AMT / Mi-171 helicopters.

The republic became the first foreign operator of the latest Mi-171A2 helicopter.

MORE ABOUT MI-8AMT

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HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I BREAKING NEWS

©Bell

THE NEXT STEPS FOR BELL’S ELECTRICALLY DISTRIBUTED ANTI-TORQUE

Bell announced it’s continued pursuit for coveted vertical lift products, evident through our unveiling of Electrically Distributed Anti-

Torque (EDAT), an unconventional tail rotor with innumerable opportunities. In a Vertical Flight Society online webinar on Nov. 16,

Bell’s Program Director for Light Aircraft, Eric Sinusas, shared potential applications for this latest innovation. «I think it has potential

to potentially replace them [traditional tail rotors],” Sinusas said. “There are benefits to the system that the conventional system just does not

have innately.» This unprecedented technology was revealed in February 2020, sparking global interest from rotorcraft community and

technology aficionados for its ingenuity. Since then, Bell continues to test the unique concept, which includes four electrical motors

driving a fixed-pitch, rpm-controlled fan capable of operating speeds around 6,000 to 7,000 rpm. «I think we can say that we have

successfully proven the concept… it works,” Sinusas says. “Now we’re into the phase of optimization and we’re fine-tuning the performance

characteristics, pushing the envelope further.» After participating in the VFS forum, Aviation Week clarified how EDAT’s technology offers

an enhanced experience in terms of extra flight operational support and cost. «The fans are driven by generators run off the tail rotor drive,

with wires to the electrical motors replacing the complex tail rotor shaft and gearboxes running through the tail boom. This eliminates the cost

of maintaining the tail rotor shaft.»

MORE ABOUT EDAT

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©Airbus Helicopters

THE CHEETAH WILL REPLACE THE FENNECS

The transition between two felines is being prepared. In service since the 1980s for the oldest and heavily solicited in operations,

the Fennec of the French Air and Space Forces awaits its successor: the Light Joint Helicopter (HIL), christened Cheetah. A unique

helicopter, it was chosen by the French Ministry of Armed Forces in March 2017 to meet the needs of all three armies. The single-fleet

concept will make it possible to pool development and operational maintenance costs. In May 2019, French Armed Forces Minister

Florence Parly announced her decision to accelerate the HIL program, led by the French Defense Procurement Agency, to enable delivery

two years ahead of schedule.

The HIL will be delivered to the French Air Force in 2030. This 6-ton aircraft will eventually succeed the fleet’s 40 Fennecs.

MORE ABOUT H160

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HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I BREAKING NEWS

©Sikorsky_Lockheed Martin

U.S. NAVY AWARDS SIKORSKY CONTRACT TO BUILD

SIX MORE CH-53K HEAVY LIFT HELICOPTERS

Sikorsky will build six additional production CH-53K King Stallionhelicopters under a new contract for the U.S. Navy. The aircraft

will further support the U.S. Marine Corps in its mission to conduct expeditionary heavy-lift assault transport of armored vehicles,

equipment and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based center of operations.

The six helicopters are part of the 200 aircraft Program of Record for the U.S. Marine Corps, and their addition makes a total of 24 CH-

53K production aircraft now under contract. Under the terms of this most recent contract – known as Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP)

Lot 4 – Sikorsky will begin deliveries of the six aircraft in January 2024.

«This contract award is a testament to the government’s confidence in the CH-53K platform. This award shows that we are working hard to

make the aircraft more affordable,» said Major General Greg Masiello, program executive office, air ASW, assault and special mission

programs. «The capability and affordability of the CH-53K is important to ensure that we provide a valuable addition to the United States Marine

Corps and our friends and allies.»

The CH-53K program has five aircraft on the line at Sikorsky facilities in Connecticut and over two dozen in various stages of production.

The program will deliver the first low rate initial production aircraft in September 2021.

Sikorsky and its suppliers have made significant investments in facilities, machinery, tooling, and workforce training to ramp up

production required for the CH-53K program. For example, for the first time, newly installed 10-ton cranes lifted a 12,000 lb. gearbox

into a CH-53K production aircraft.

HI I 12


«The production of this CH-53K helicopter represents a new era in capabilities, technologies, safety and mission flexibility for the U.S. Marine

Corps. Sikorsky is committed to supporting the Marine Corps to maximize the benefits of this all new helicopter,» said Bill Falk, Sikorsky

CH-53K program director. «Pilots are already training on state-of-the art flight training devices to prepare in a safe, cost-effective manner for

operational deployment,» Falk said.

The CH-53K is also nearing the conclusion of the developmental flight test events in preparation for Initial Operational Test & Evaluation

(IOT&E), having flown more than 2,000 flight hours validating the aircraft’s performance on a ship and in both hot and cold environments.

This year, the aircraft completed:

• Air-to-air refueling with an external load

• Initial sea trials

• Flight tests in extremely hot and dusty conditions at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona

Other accomplishments include:

• Maximum weight single-point cargo hook sling load of 36,000 pounds (16,329 kilograms)

• Forward flight speed of over 150 knots

• 60-degree angle-of-bank turns

• Altitude of 18,500 feet mean sea level (MSL)

• 12-degree slope landings and takeoffs

• External load auto-jettison

• Gunfire testing

MORE ABOUT SIKORSKY

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HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I BREAKING NEWS

©Kopter

SH09 THIRD PROTOTYPE ACHIEVED SEVERAL “FIRSTS”

Flight test activities have fully resumed at Mollis, Switzerland, having reassembled the third SH09 prototype (P3) after its return from

Pozzallo.

The flights at Mollis mainly concentrated on testing the new tail rotor and aerodynamic modifications for improved handling in the low

speed envelope. Flights at altitude, in the local area, evaluated the handling characteristics at higher speeds and in autorotation.During

these flights we have been able to achieve several firsts for the SH09. Notably, the first flight at the maximum permissible take-off

weight for P3 and for the first time the aircraft has been to 35 knots in sideways flight.

Next step is to proceed with the upgrade to Garmin avionics and install the final main rotor flight control system.

MORE ABOUT SH09

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©Airbus-Helicopters-Patrick-Heinz

31 ADDITIONAL NH90 FOR THE GERMAN NAVY.

On November 20, the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag (Parliament in Germany) validated the additional purchase of 31

NH90 multi-role helicopters for a budget of 2.7 billion euros. A first navalized version called the Sea Lion was to be received in 2019,

to replace the Westland Sea Kings for rescue-SAR and frigate supply missions at the time. This new order for NH90 Mult Role Frigate

Helicopters (MRFH), known as Sea Tiger, will be used primarily for anti-submarine warfare and surface combat. The arrival of these

new machines should enable Deutsche Marine to retire its ageing fleet of Sea Lynx Mk88A Sea Lynx helicopters, with which it currently

operates, by 2025.

MORE ABOUT NH90

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HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I FAREWELL I

BY FRÉDÉRIC VERGNÈRES

©MARINE NATIONALE - ©A. PECCHI

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HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I FAREWELL I

0

n September 4th, in front of an audience of officers

and three machines with commemorative livery for the

occasion, the French Navy bid farewell to its last Lynx still

in operation. In addition to the helicopter, the entity also put

its prestigious unit, the 34F, to sleep for a few months. For

41 years, the pair will have criss-crossed the globe to ensure

mainly the mission of anti-submarine warfare.

« It’s a feeling shared between emotion and optimism to see the

departure of an aircraft on which I have flown throughout my

career. Nevertheless, this departure opens a new era and a new

chapter in the history of the Navy ». These few words spoken

by Commander François Chaput, the last commander of the

34F, symbolises the attachment of the Navy and its men to

this aircraft.

The Lynx is the result of a Franco-British commercial

cooperation between Aérospatiale and Westland in its

French version. The Lynx is above all an aircraft whose

design is based on Westland’s experience in on-board

helicopters, particularly the WASP model. Above all, it is a

machine designed by the British, for the British, just like the

car on the other side of the Channel. The feline will thus be

developed with innovative technical solutions to make it a

helicopter particularly suited to boarding. A stocky machine

with a very low center of gravity to give it great stability on

marine platforms, the Lynx is also the only machine to have

a main gearbox (MGB) in the shape of a «crushed pyramid».

This technical design makes it possible to lower the height

of the device. Correlated to the blades and a folding beam,

it will facilitate its storage on board frigates and make it a

helicopter fully in line with the requirements of naval forces.

In addition, it remains the only aircraft to have a pitch change

system whose axis runs through the MGB system at its

center. A mechanism that is totally different from the swash

plates usually found on rotating wings, but has undoubtedly

proven itself since the machine was put into service.

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A VERSATILE VECTOR

The Lynx was commissioned by France on the 3rd of October

1979, in order to provide the French Navy with a genuine onboard

anti-submarine warfare (ASW) system and thus meet

the requirements of the submarine domain in correlation

with its nuclear deterrent systems. Equipped, among other

things, with a DUAV-4 hardened sonar and, if necessary, two

Mk.46 or MU-90 torpedoes, the forty machines received by

France will be deployed mainly from the F67 (Tourville class)

and F70 (Georges Leygues class) frigates based in Toulon

and Brest. They will be operated by three crew members (two

pilots and a sonar/winch operator or aeronautical helicopter

operator - HELAE). The feline will become an indispensable

tool and a deported vector for these frigates in order to hit

the target as closely as possible in its main ASM mission.

However, history will enrich the operational capabilities

of the twin-turbine and enable it to be deployed in-fine, on

board all helicopter-carrier ships in service with the Navy.

Unlike the English versions, the French Lynx will nevertheless

have evolved marginally. Only a few transformations were

made over the years, such as the introduction of a new,

more powerful engine in 1984 and the integration of carbon

blades, which in practice enabled the helicopter to gain up to

15 knots of top speed.

From its original Mk.2 version to the more advanced Mk.4

version, the Lynx will thus be able to use its operational

capabilities for sea rescue missions (Search and Rescue -

SAR), the fight against illicit trafficking, and the protection

of maritime approaches. Thanks to its ability to intervene

more than 100 nautical miles from the point of departure,

the aircraft has been on the frontline in rescuing the crews

of the Erika in 1999, the Napoli in 2007 and, more recently,

the Modern Express in 2016. In addition to its missions of

state action at sea, this beast of burden will also be used to

transport and support Special Forces. In fact, the aircraft,

operated by three flotillas (31F, 34F and 35F), will be at the

heart of many devices and missions, such as those carried

out in June 1982 during the Lebanese conflict, which saw a

31F aircraft land in the heart of Beirut, then plagued by civil

war. Following state-commissioned operations, the Lynx was

also deployed during Operation Daguet in 1991, then in the

Balkans in 1992, not forgetting the Heracles (Afghanistan),

Harmattan (Libya), and Chammal (Syria-Iraq) missions in

the 2000s, up to the present day. The long list of operations

carried out by the «animal» will lead it to perform more than

210,000 flight hours during its 41 years of service.

HI I 19


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I FAREWELL I

AN EFFICIENT BUT AGING MACHINE

With four machines still in flight, the 34F flotilla carried out

the Lynx’s latest mission last July, during an operational

mission in support of the strategic oceanic force for SNLE’s

nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. Despite

its intrinsic qualities and the possibility of an upgrade,

the withdrawal of the Lynx has become a necessity in

recent years, as François Chaput points out: «The age of

the aircraft no longer allows it to be maintained in sufficient

operational conditions. The maintenance of the Lynx has

proved increasingly difficult, often forcing mechanics to carry

out retro engineering.» The Navy will thus have kept up, until

the end, the maintenance capacities of the aircraft at the the

operational level, within the flotilla in Lanvéoc, and at the

aeronautics industrial workshop (AIA) in Cuers-Pierrefeu. At

the same time, the aircraft will have benefited throughout

its working life from industrial monitoring by Leonardo, a

company created in 2000 from the merger between Italy’s

Agusta and Britain’s Westland. However, its operating costs

will impede on further modernisation. According to a report

submitted to a Member of Parliament last July, the aircraft’s

flight hours have gone from 14,000 to 22,000 euros in four

years for an annual maintenance cost of 17.7 million euros.

And, for an availability rate of less than 16%! This was just

enough to decide on the withdrawal of the beast, not without

regrets according to its crews, who, at the closure of the 34F,

will be reassigned to different units.

A NEW ERA

If the withdrawal of the Lynx marks the end of an era, it is

also synonymous with renewal for the French Navy. The

ASM mission has already been taken over by the NH90

Cayman Marine for several years, notably within the 33F and

31F on board multi-mission frigates (FREMM). The Cayman

Marine, which entered service with the «Royale» in 2011,

thus takes over the entire range of missions carried out by

the Lynx. And, according to some authorities, it is sometimes

not without difficulty, when faced with a last-generation

machine, where it is difficult to maintain operational.

Despite a few uncertainties, the NH90 is in fact becoming

the spearhead of the on-board helicopter component. The

Navy has also opted for another Airbus Helicopter, the H160,

and the withdrawal of the Lynx has made it possible to

ratify the project to upgrade the helicopter component by

implementing an interim fleet consisting of H160s and N3

Dolphins. According to François Chaput, « this project has

a promising future and the Lynx’s retirement will also make it

possible to invest in it on a long-term basis. »

If the time of the feline’s retirement has indeed sounded, its

second life within the national museums, in order to preserve

this flying heritage, still remains to be defined. As CF Chaput

underlines, « calls for the delivery of some of the cells to the

historical museum of the helicopter, in Dax, to the museum of

the association of the friends of naval aeronautics in Rochefort

and, why not, to the Museum of the air and space installed on

the airport of Paris - Le Bourget. »

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THE REBIRTH OF THE 34F

Last unit to operate on the Lynx, the 34F flotilla will remain one of the specialists in ASM combat. «Due

to the geographical location of the 34F, the main mission of this unit has been the surveillance of the Atlantic

coast in order to protect the SNLE’s based in Brest. The 34F’s mission is totally linked to the frigate’s missions,

which has led it to deployments in the North Atlantic area and the Baltic Sea approaches, in order to ensure

operational maintenance during exercises with our allies. However, even if the latter has become a specialist in

this field, the flotilla will have carried out a wide range of missions, even one-off ones, such as search and rescue

and anti-pollution response», as Commander Chaput points out. With the announcement of the Lynx’s

withdrawal also came the dissolution of the 34F. However, this one, hardly receiving a moment of sleep,

will be reactivated at the beginning of January 2021 by «absorbing» the 22S. The 34F will thus become

the School of Specialisation on Embedded Helicopters (ESHE - Ecole de Spécialisation sur Hélicoptères

Embarqués) and will take over the crew training missions for all helicopter pilots of the French Navy. And

others. For, in addition to the Navy, the unit that hosts the interim fleet of Dauphin N3 helicopters also has

the mission of training pilots from other armies on how to land.

MORE ABOUT LYNX

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HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I LEGACY I

BY FRÉDÉRIC LERT

©AIRBUS - ©FREDERIC LERT

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HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I LEGACY I

E

On the 6th of September 2010, the X3 took off for the first time from the

Istres air base in the south of France. 50% aeroplane, 50% helicopter,

100% innovative and successful. The actors of the time remember this

extraordinary program...

« CEO Lutz Bertling had decided to launch the study of a fast aircraft,» recalls

Daniel Semioli, who was one of the two test flight engineers in the program,

along with Dominique Fournier. During a meeting in which I took part, he told

us in substance, «The handicap of a conventional helicopter is its speed limited

by its rotor. But as this limit is physically impassable, we have to change the

concept».

HI I 24


THE CONVERTIBLE COMPLEXITY

The fantasy of the fast helicopter is as old as the helicopter

itself. Many avenues have been explored to break the wall

of speed related to the physical constraints of the rotor in

forward flight. So far, only one hybrid helicopter has been

built in the series: the Bell V-22. An aircraft with tilting

propellers carried by the Pentagon’s budgets, and reserved

for the military because of its complexity, alongside its

operating and maintenance costs. But the defects and

dangers of the convertible are well known, especially in the

transition phase with wingtip flaps that make neither good

rotors nor good propellers.

SHADOW PROJECT

Lutz Bertling’s stated objective is to obtain an aircraft

50% faster than a helicopter, but with simple technical

solutions limiting the increase in costs to 20% compared to

a conventional aircraft of equivalent size.

«Our CEO wanted to launch a small development program that

would allow us to respond quickly, and at a lower cost to the

question of the feasibility of such an aircraft» continues Daniel

Semioli. «The idea did not meet unanimous approval in the

company. There was a - moderate - financial risk, of course,

but it was above all Eurocopter’s brand image that could be

strongly impacted by a failure. The history of hybrid aircraft,

with its many accidents, did not argue in our favour ». A very

small team, a dozen engineers at most, worked under the

leadership of Philippe Roesch (program director) and

Thomaz Krysinski to propose a preliminary project to Lutz

Bertling. The responsibility of the final decision lands with

him, as to whether to continue the project. «Actually this was

not about spending a certain amount of money, but about the

team proposing to me a minimum budget needed to achieve a

flying demonstrator aircraft in a very independent skunk works

environment » says Lutz Bertling. «The X3 is certainly one of

the achievements in my career I am most proud off ».

HI I 25


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I LEGACY I

TECHNOLOGY PUZZLE

In order to move forward quickly and cost-effectively, the

design office team makes the greatest possible use of

already existing sub-assemblies. The cell is that of an old

Dauphin previously transformed to give birth to the EC155

prototype. The rotor is also that of the EC155 prototype.

The main gearbox comes from an EC175. It receives two

additional lateral outputs for power transmission to the

propellers at the wingtips. «The transmission was direct, with

no maintenance bearings in the wing» explains Daniel Semioli.

«We carried out a lot of tests on the development of the drive

shafts, which had to meet the requirements of a super critical

shaft». The manufacturing of the propellers was entrusted

to the company MT Propeller, without of course, revealing

the very special use that would be made of them. In order to

go fast and reduce costs, Eurocopter wanted to use existing

propellers with shorter blades and modified twist. The reverse

motion of a propeller while hovering in flight, should allow

the tail to be balanced. The propeller manufacturer remains

perplexed by the requested specifications and explains to

his customer « We don’t know what kind of aircraft you have

but it will probably not work very well with the propellers you

are asking us for...». As far as the engines are concerned, the

TK team has set its sights on the two RTM322 turbines of

the NH90 prototype, whose speed is adapted to the needs of

the aircraft being prepared. The rear of the EC155’s airframe

is profoundly modified with the addition of a large fixed

double tailplane to stabilise the aircraft on the pitch and

yaw axis. The wing is fitted with flaps set to compensate for

asymmetric rotor wash. A «simplex» type autopilot is slipped

under the skin of the aircraft to ensure that everything

functions in harmony. «The most extraordinary thing is that

the X3 was remarkably stable, and it remained fully controllable

throughout the entire flight envelope without the auto-pilot,»

explains Hervé Jammayrac, pilot of the demonstrator.

HI I 26


HUMAN ADVENTURE

All the assembly work is done in Marignane, in a discreet

but very well guarded shed. As the work progresses, new

skills are added to the existing team. Specialists are coopted

under the seal of secrecy in each of the company’s

sectors. They are chosen on the basis of their technical but

also human qualities to guarantee the complete cohesion of

the team working in commando mode. For Daniel Semioli

as for his colleagues, there is no doubt about it: «We formed

a very close-knit group, with the idea that we were on our way

to succeed (or fail!) all together! The people chosen were very

invested in a project that they knew was unique, and which

would mark their professional career and their passage through

the company». At the same time, the future crew discovered

the functioning of the aircraft with the help of the SPHERE

study simulator, which also enabled Tomasz Krysinski’s team

to better define certain parts of the aircraft. «SPHERE was

very well done and we were not disorientated when we climbed

into the machine for the first flight,» recalls Hervé Jammayrac.

«The aerodynamic effects, the gains... we found on the aircraft

in flight and everything we had encountered on the ground with

the simulator ». On the 31st of July 2010, the prototype left

its hangar at dusk. It was towed through the car parks and

taxiways of Marseille Provence International Airport to the

nearby Etang de Berre. Then it was disassembled into three

sub-assemblies, which were placed on a floating barge. It is

after midnight when the barge left Marignane and headed to

the port of Fos, on the opposite bank. Once there, the subassemblies

were placed on trucks that only had to travel a

few kilometres to reach the Istres air base, in order to cut

the trip as short as possible and stay away from busy roads;

limiting the arousal curiosity a passage is opened for the

sole benefit of the convoy in the fence of the base, in a very

isolated sector. At 1pm on August 1st, the aircraft takes

possession of its new hangar on the air base. Re-assembly

can then begin.

HI I 27


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I LEGACY I

SIMPLICITY OF PILOTING AND

EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE

« We all shared the same hangar, crew, mechanics, telemetry

team, design office, etc. » says a technician on the program.

« We had lunch together on site, we thought together, the

efficiency was 100%! ». On August 16, 2010 at 6pm, in total

discretion, as the base was emptied of its personnel, the X3

carried out its first fixed point in Istres. Three weeks later,

on September 6, 2010 at 5pm, the X3 took off for the first

time. Two and a half minutes of stationary. « And there’s a

major problem: both wings are flapping! The aircraft is at the

limit of controllability » recalls Daniel Semioli. The origin of the

problem is quickly identified: the flight controls pass through

the canopy and the flapping induces parasitic movements,

which are amplified by the servocontrols. The solutions

were put in place and everything returned to normal within

a few days. The rapid succession of flights shows that

the X3 combines great ease of piloting with exceptional

performance. « Everyday, we were a little more amazed by

the potential of the aircraft. The simplicity of the technical

solutions, which was one of the major characteristics of the

aircraft; our choice to play with the rotor speed and propeller

pitch, without ever losing efficiency; all of these aspects

surprised the aeronautical world, which sometimes thought

that this level of simplicity would not work, » Daniel Semioli

sums up. « A helicopter pilot will master the piloting of this

aircraft in less than five minutes. Contrary to what is known with

convertible aircraft, the vertical and horizontal flight phases

follow one another without transition, without ever endangering

the aircraft’s occupants ».

At the beginning of 2013, with the entire flight envelope

open, the X3 unofficially breaks the speed record for a

gyrodine, at 255 knots. The aircraft then accumulated just

over 140 hours of flight time, well over the 100 hours initially

planned. But the success is such that the aircraft is used

in a large number of communication operations, including

an exceptional «demo tour» in the United States. All the

objectives of the technological demonstrator have been met

and, as a sign of its success, the program is accumulating

honours: Howard Hughes trophy, Hall of Fame for innovation

in the United States, Gold Medal of the French Aeroclub.

Now it’s time for the Racer, which promises to revolutionise

vertical flight.

MORE ABOUT X3

HI I 28


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I MANUFACTURER I

HI I 30


BY FRANÇOIS BLANC

©HILL

HI I 31


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I MANUFACTURER I

S

Since the merger of the Westland Helicopters brand into the Italian Leonardo cauldron, the British

helicopter industry has been quite discreet. The launch announcement of a program designed and

to be conducted in Great Britain did not fail to surprise European and other observers. Here is an update

on a project whose genesis dates back to 2007.

Artist’s views intended to show what a particular model of vehicle or aircraft might look like are not

uncommon. In fact, they have never been. However, in the case of Hill Helicopters’ early press releases,

observers could not help but be impressed by some of the most compelling images from around the

world. They will no doubt have lingered, too, on the journey of the concept’s creator and founding

president of Hill Helicopters. Jason Hill is not the first to enter the industrial sphere, nor is he the first to

enter the world of rotary wings. A mechanical engineer from Aston University in Birmingham, England,

he began his career at Agusta Westland while pursuing studies that would lead him to a doctorate in

advanced aerodynamics in the early 2000s. He is currently working on the Lynx program, designing

rotors, composite structures and fuselages.

HI I 32


NOTHING NEW FOR 40 YEARS?

In 2005, Hill left Westland and created his own company,

Dynamiq Engineering. A certified helicopter pilot, he closely

follows the news of the sector. However, he believes no

decisive advances have been made in light helicopters

since the 1980s. This is undoubtedly the starting point of an

initiative that has recently been echoed in the aeronautical

world.

Nevertheless, from 2007 onwards, Jason Hill has been

engaged in in-depth reflection. He launched a study to

design, develop, test and mass-produce a particularly

innovative five-seat, single-engine helicopter. From the

outset, he targeted the private user market, a demand that

he now estimates to be in the range of 500 to 1,000 aircraft

per year. At this stage in the story, several remarks come

to mind. The recent abandonment of the H120 model by

Airbus Helicopters, for example, raises questions about the

existence of a flourishing market for a light single-engine

aircraft for private users. This machine did not (or no longer)

presents the characteristics expected by all or part of the

target clientele. It is also true that the Bell 505, which is also

largely intended for private customers, is not at the cutting

edge of modernity, despite its original cabin and digital

equipment. To be convinced of this, one need only consider,

for example, the origin of its dynamic elements borrowed

from the Bell 206 Jet Ranger family. There was no technical

revolution at Robinson either, with the advent of the R66, the

descendant of a prolific family of lightweight, combustionengine

powered machines. The case of the Kopter SHO9, on

the other hand, would tend to prove Jason Hill right, whereas

the aircraft developed in Switzerland (and now absorbed

by Leonardo) is precisely intended to place a more modern

machine on the market than those of the competitors. The

fact remains that the Hill Helicopters project obviously

pushes the notion of modernity even further.

THE ASSOCIATION OF

SCIENCE AND ART

In 2012, five years after the launch of studies for a new

helicopter concept, Jason Hill called on a core group of

engineers from Dynamiq Engineering. Having reached

a critical stage in the design of his helicopter, he felt that

the program needed to be given a boost. As exciting as the

studies are that he is carrying out, the challenge now is to

complete them within a realistic timeframe. Progress is

coming, and the acceleration is bearing fruit. Not only is the

concept taking shape, the technical solutions selected are

being refined, but a request for a grant from Her Majesty’s

government is also being approved. The amount is not

disclosed, but the recognition of the quality of the work done

and the theoretical viability of the project supports Jason

Hill’s approach at the right time, giving it a certain credibility.

In addition to the innovative technical contributions injected

into the concept, the specifications, from the outset, aim

to give birth to the first helicopter specifically designed

for pilots who own their own machine. The main idea was

to bring the pleasure of piloting and the advantages of

owning a helicopter to the highest level, especially in terms

of freedom of use and flexibility, especially if it is the most

comfortable of all, the most ergonomically designed and the

most flattering to look at. «The combination of science and

art is essential in the design of the HX50,» Hill said in one of

his speeches, conveniently posted on a web-based channel.

Thus, the interior design - cockpit and cabin - is particularly

careful, to make the flight an experience as safe as it is

qualitative, and the simple presence on board an exercise in

pure seduction. Of course, the project promises to be very

ambitious, and totally uncomplicated…

HI I 33


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I MANUFACTURER I

OPERATION SEDUCTION

Enhance helicopter flight, supply the passengers with an

image consistent with their self-image: the message sent to

the future owners of the HX50 is unequivocal. It’s a message

to a certain global elite, to people who are wealthy and

supposedly ready to afford the most advanced helicopter

ever developed and marketed in its class. A position perfectly

assumed, while Hill Helicopters’ definition of the concept

evokes «the best five-seat turbine-powered helicopter ever

built. However, the notion of «best helicopter» here is not as

peremptory as it might seem. It underscores Jason Hill’s

bias, as he designs a helicopter with a high level of finish,

luxurious equipment, and does not seek any versatility of

use, and especially not the slightest aptitude for utilitarian

missions for his future aircraft. In his remarks, the parallel

with the Aston Martin car brand comes up several times,

as if to enlighten an audience unprepared to witness the

emergence of an aircraft that is both out of the ordinary

and that carries a new interpretation of what the expression

«good English taste» can mean.

However, the demanding consumer of private helicopter

flights may not be quite the only customer for the HX50,

while there is also talk of targeting a fringe of users who are

more accustomed to travelling by airplane.

This is where the performance sought by Hill Helicopters for

its first production contributes to its attractiveness. Cruising

flight at 10,000 feet (about 3,000 meters), fully loaded (800

kg onboard), at an economical speed of 140 knots (260

km/h) and over a distance of 700 nautical miles (about 1,300

km), are on the menu claimed by the HX50. Technically, even

if no engineer will shout utopia, there again, the declared

ambition is to be welcomed. Little said about the technical

characteristics of the HX50, the young British manufacturer,

to date, only mentions a composite material structure, which

guarantees the required rigidity, a significant weight saving

and a good way to erase some of the vibrations induced by

the operation of the machine.

HI I 34


ORIGINAL FLIGHT CONTROLS

AND INSTRUMENTATION

Recently unveiled, the manufacturer of the GT50 engine is

none other than the designer of the HX50. Here again, the

approach may surprise. And once again, Jason Hill has no

shortage of arguments, as he states that current design

resources make it possible to complete a study quickly and

inexpensively. Furthermore, he points out that by planning to

use only proven technical solutions (and the best of them),

while striving to simplify their assembly and implementation,

Hill Helicopters finds itself completely free to set the

performance requirements itself, without ever having to

worry about having to conduct tedious additional studies to

adapt the engine to the aircraft. To date, the data reported

indicates a maximum continuous power of 400 HP (405

hp), 440 HP at takeoff (446 hp), and 500 HP (507 hp) for 30

seconds in an emergency, for an average fuel consumption

of 35 gallons per hour (132.5 l/h).

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

The name of the manufacturer of the 500hp engine, for the

moment, is not revealed. As for the latest-generation digital

instrumentation, no known supplier has yet been identified.

That said, the simple description of the planned flight

controls might partly explain this cautious statement. Indeed,

the cockpit of the HX50 will not be equipped in a completely

conventional way (apart from the rudder connected to the

anti-torque rotor). The general pitch control, in this case,

will be operated from front to back (and not from bottom to

top). The key point is that this control will be connected to

a central console (inspired by the automotive world), with

an armrest designed to improve piloting comfort, especially

over long distances, and even a support to relieve the forearm

and wrist during certain phases of handling the helicopter’s

systems. The Integrated Pilot Interface (IPI) is located in

the immediate vicinity of the general pitch control (when

the helicopter is in cruise position). This system includes a

central «puck» and numeric keypad, as well as a series of

function selection keys designed to simplify and easily free

the pilot from all the actions he has to perform. This IPI

allows the pilot to set the altimeter setting, select the COM1,

COM2 or NAV frequencies, enter transponder codes, enter

heading, altitude and speed data to be reached and retained

by the autopilot, as well as navigation data. It also offers

immediate access to certain functions, such as setting up

the navigation system, integrating a cell phone, adjusting the

air conditioning and ambient lighting, or accessing the main

menu of the system.

HI I 35


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I MANUFACTURER I

TARGET 2023

At the top of the general pitch control, a mini-console

includes a FLY/IDLE (idle/flight speed) switch for the

engine, a switch for the landing light, and a third one for

the hydraulic system cut-off test. Beneath the central (and

adjustable) shelf support (it accepts a wide range of shelves

and operating systems) is the main control panel (PCP).

The PCP contains the main battery connection button, the

main avionics connection button, the collision light switch,

the engine start/stop button, the main rotor brake control

and the emergency fuel shut-off valve. The startup sequence

is kept as simple as possible, with the battery, avionics and

collision-avoidance switch in the «on» position. Then simply

press the start button, and the FADEC (1) takes over.

Below the main screen is a secondary set of controls that

manages autopilot modes, air conditioning and defogging,

cabin lighting, map lighting, navigation lights and ambient

lighting intensity.

The cyclic pitch control in turn provides a substantial

improvement, especially because it is not anchored in the

cockpit floor, but «suspended» above the pilot’s legs.

It offers the possibility of individual adjustment «by hand»

for each pilot and, of course, increased ease of getting in

and out of the seat (without having to go around the control

column anchored to the ground). The ergonomics of the

handle are particularly well thought out. When a double

removable control is installed, each pilot can individually

adjust its setting to his or her liking.

To date, the designer of the HX50 claims to be able to take

its first production aircraft off the assembly line (located in

the Midlands region of Great Britain) in the summer of 2023.

This assertion indicates that the project is probably quite

mature 13 years after the initial studies were launched. At

the same time, it confirms that Jason Hill was careful not to

disclose his project too soon. Is he trying to create a certain

element of surprise, while sparing the patience of his future

clients? Three years is relatively short in the life of a program

of this scale... Of course, it remains to be seen whether, like

most industrial helicopter manufacturers, Jason Hill will not

have to deal with unforeseen events that could delay the

entry into service of his firstborn.

MORE ABOUT HX50

HI I 36


Helicopter Industry TV,

Everywhere ...

Every month, UJ TV & HI TV takes an in-depth look

at two issues making the headlines of the industry

with a distinctive editorial slant and style.


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I MILITARY I

BY FRÉDÉRIC LERT

©FRÉDÉRIC LERT

HI I 38


HI I 39


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I MILITARY I

F

or its major annual Baccarat exercise, the Army Light

Aviation (ALAT) has shaken up its habits by training in

the Alps. Beyond the constraints of aerology and weather, it

also had to deal with Covid19...

Every year, ALAT organizes its Baccarat exercise which

brings together on the same ground the three combat

helicopter regiments (RHC) belonging to the 4th Air Combat

Brigade (BAC): the 1st RHC of Phalsbourg, the 3rd RHC of

Etain and the 5th RHC of Pau.

For the fourth edition, about thirty aircraft and 1600 army

soldiers belonging mainly to the 27th mountain infantry

brigade were mobilized. For once it was not customary

for ALAT to play a high intensity combat, facing a heavily

equipped conventional enemy, on a field covering a

quadrilateral of 150 kilometers by 250 km deep. Straddling

four departments, the maneuver area was part of a large

quadrilateral bounded by the cities of Valence, Grenoble,

Gap and Briançon. In addition, there was a live-fire zone

from the Mailly and Sissonne camps. Another special

feature of the 2020 edition of Baccarat was the emphasis

placed on operations in mountainous areas, with all its

peculiarities in terms of aerology, meteorology, and finally

very strong impacts on aircraft performance and operations.

HI I 40


Mountainous and sophisticated adversary, the cocktail was

a strong one, very different in any case from the tactical

situations that French crews have been encountering in the

Sahel for nearly ten years.

« With this edition, I wanted to shake up habits, get out of the

routine, » explained General Frédéric Gout, commander of

the 4th BAC. « We left Afghanistan nearly ten years ago and

the generation of pilots who took part in this OPEX will soon

have completely left the regiments. We will then have lost the

mountain expertise we had acquired there ». Of course, the

current operations in the Sahel mean that the mountains are

not a priority. And the tempo of the operational engagement

is such that opportunities to get to know the summits on a

first-name basis are not common.

An important feature of Baccarat has also been the

participation of foreign nations since its inception. The

2019 edition was marked by a strong Spanish and British

commitment, the former even travelling with a full helicopter

regiment and an infantry company. But this year, COVID-19

put a serious brake on this exchange. Spain threw down the

gauntlet, playing the prudence card. «A reasonable choice that

I fully understand,» General Gout noted. The British chose to

maintain their participation, but with a contingent limited to

only two AH64D Apache AH64s from the 664 Squadron - 4th

Regiment Army Air Corps that made the trip from their base

at Wattisham.

Our detachment is limited to about 30 people, but we had to

come,» insisted squadron leader Tom Brunwin. Our presence

is an excellent opportunity to train in the mountains and

to exchange with our French comrades on their combat

experience in the Sahel.

The Army Air Corps came with 5 aircrew and a convoy of

a dozen vehicles. Two airplanes brought logistics, while the

two helicopters reached the ALAT base in Valence Chabeuil

by their own means and with two stops, the first in Great

Britain and the second in Dijon. With two additional fuel

tanks, our Apache helicopters have a flight time of just over

four hours,» noted the British officer. We could have come

without any problem with only one intermediate stop, but

the bad weather conditions pushed us to take greater safety

margins».

HI I 41


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I MILITARY I

During the exercise, the British mainly worked with the Tigers

of the 1st French RHC in reconnaissance and destruction

missions, but always under a unified French command. «The

patrols were not mixed with the Tigers, we divided up the

areas of intervention with, for example, the Tigers to the

north of a valley and us to the south. In other cases, the

helicopters could cooperate and even designate each other

laser targets.

The AH64D is of course distinguished at first glance by its

radar placed at the top of the rotor mast, with the different

versions of the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, laser- or radarguided,

as its main armament. The Army Air Corps currently

has 67 Apache Ds in stock, with about fifty in line, divided

into two regiments with two squadrons each, plus two

training squadrons. But early next year, the squadrons will

begin their transformation on AH64E aircraft, of which the

United Kingdom has ordered 50.

The British involvement in Baccarat was all the more

commendable since, because of COVID, the entire

detachment was ipso facto obliged to follow a «fourteen» at

the end of the exercise, on their return to Great Britain.

The shadow of the pandemic loomed over the exercise for its

entire duration and almost led to a last-minute cancellation:

«Three days before the scheduled date, I still didn’t know if

the exercise could be played,» said General Gout. We were

in close contact with the health and prefectural authorities

to know the precise conditions under which we could still

start the exercise. And in the end, we got the green light 72

hours before the start of the exercise, with the constraint

of setting up a draconian monitoring system: all the players

had to wear masks at all times and take their temperature

every morning. In case of symptoms, we had the possibility

to isolate the patient and test him immediately. We received

the results of these tests within 24 hours. Every evening,

we took stock of the health situation with the possibility of

stopping the exercise on the spot in the event of an alert

and therefore of necessity. In the end, we recorded a dozen

suspicious cases, all of which turned out to be negative.

The success of the exercise and the interest shown by the

crews (950 flight hours recorded in ten days) argue in favor

of the creation of innovative scenarios for the years to come.

After the mountains, the 4th BAC will also be working on a

highly amphibious edition next year, with participation in the

study of one or two French Navy Assault Helicopter Carriers

(PHA).

MORE ABOUT ALAT

HI I 42


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I PARAPUBLIC I

BY FRANÇOIS BLANC

©RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS

BY FRÉDÉRIC VERGNÈRES

©DR - ©FRÉDÉRIC VERGNÈRES - ©SÉCURITÉ CIVILE

HI I 44


HI I 45


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I PARAPUBLIC I

L

ast March, the French civil security authorities and the French civil aviation authority (DGAC)

inaugurated a new IFR approach procedure for the Grenoble - Le Versoud site. This was a small

revolution with big consequences.

Far from being a mass sport, helicopter rescue in the mountains requires precision at all times. Up until

now, the approach on certain sites, starting with the Grenoble - Le Versoud site, remained one of the

most delicate points in France, in terms of weather because of overcast, which affects the descent for

the red and yellow rotating helicopters. After three years of cooperation, the DGAC and the French Civil

Security allowed the Grenoble site to have an IFR «Point In Space-PinS» approach dedicated to rotary

wings.

HI I 46


CONTROLLER MEMORIES

In 2005, deliveries of the first EC145s gave the French civil

security forces IFR capabilities that they had previously

lacked. On this date, few crews had such a license. What’s

more, at a time not so long ago, «GNSS breakthroughs, pure

GPS, were still in their infancy,» says Renaud Guillermet, head

of the Grenoble Civil Security helicopter base. However, the

entity will very quickly turn to the DGAC to develop solutions

for breakthroughs without visibility in mountainous regions.

Starting with the Grenoble site, the first Civil Security

helicopter base was specially created in 1957, in order to

meet mountain rescue needs. Based in a region subject

to the vagaries of the weather, especially in autumn and

winter, «Dragon» crews strive to ensure the safety of their

missions in all areas of flight, especially on approach when

the cloud cover prevents all visibility to the ground. The

first serious studies on the subject came from an air traffic

controller in Versoud, who was at that time, in fully qualified.

In his end-of-study thesis, he addressed a new approach

procedure for a helicopter equipped with GNSS equipment.

«Reading this thesis, we saw that the procedure was feasible

despite a regulatory and technical framework that was difficult

to implement given the available technology, which was not

adapted to our operational needs,» said Renaud Guillermet.

CROSSING THE « CLOUD »

In 2018, on the strength of this initial approach and the

development of onboard technology, Grenoble’s Civil

Security center, which shares its missions at the heart of the

Alpine epicenter between Le Versoud and the Alpe-d’Huez

site during the height of winter tourist season, will re-launch

the project in collaboration with the DGAC and air navigation

services. «We have given our specifications and the services

have built procedures specifically designed for our needs,»

says the manager. The goal is to have a real low altitude

IFR network for helicopters in the Alps, between Annecy,

Chambéry and Grenoble. The specific procedure studied on

Le Versoud includes « an approach by making short branches

of two nautical miles with a 15° turn and three nautical miles

in the other direction, which allows the helicopter to follow

the trajectory of the valley, » the pilot explains. « The main

advantage of this approach is to go and serve a helipad located

in a valley in the Alps and to extend it according to operational

needs. Traditionally, the Isère valley is fairly wide and is covered

by a compact, watertight layer of clouds during the long autumn

and winter period. The RNP (Required Navigation Performance)

approach allows us to cross up to 4,000 feet of stratus. It is

based on points dematerialized by precise GPS coordinates». In

fact, the crew is no longer forced to perform reconnaissance

to find a hypothetical hole to bring their aircraft to the base

or to the Grenoble University Hospital Center (CHU). The

method must be carried out with a GPS that guarantees

a navigational accuracy of 0.3 nautical miles in the final

phase of the approach. The piloting during this stage is

controlled either by the automatic pilot or manually. Despite

a simplification of the sequences and a slight reduction in

the mental workload during this delicate phase for the crew,

« the system must be able to anticipate. The data must be

calculated before the mission starts. When the approach begins,

sequencing is performed at the navigation level to validate the

acquisition of points and control the accuracy of navigation so

that the approach can be maintained. If this one is lost, we carry

out an extraction procedure in order to resume the approach. »

HI I 47


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I PARAPUBLIC I

WINNING COMBINATION

As you can see, this new procedure should allow the Civil

Security teams to play on the time parameter, especially

for the benefit of injured people repatriated to Grenoble

University Hospital. Beyond that, it will make the delicate

phase of the approach in a complex sector a little safer, and

at the same time, reduce kerosene consumption. This is

an important factor, given that the unit can carry out up to

1,500 missions a year. « This gives us the advantage of leaving

with less fuel, and therefore improve performance, especially

when we need to get as close as possible to the victims to be

assisted, » adds the pilot. Using this procedure allows us, for

example, to save four minutes on a trip from Alpe d’Huez

to Grenoble University Hospital. However, while the use of

technology has made the approach phase easier, it would

not be effective without the knowledge and experience of

the field acquired over the years by the crews. A winning

combination, according to the head of the Grenoble base:

« We still have the advantage of experience in the areas where

we work, because we’ve been based there for many years.

This gives us a very good understanding of our environment,

which is essential for our missions. » It’s therefore easy to

understand the importance and validity of such a man/

machine combination, which nevertheless remains subject

to external hazards, especially from other aircraft in the

vicinity, despite local control, as Guillermet points out: «

There’s a lot of work to be done on the separation of traffic,

between an IFR helicopter and a whole bunch of aircraft that are

VFR below and above the layer. »

A PROCEDURE RESERVED

FOR CIVIL SECURITY

The implementation of this procedure, which may seem

a little long in view of the tools available for more than a

decade, is nevertheless quite logical, as Renaud Guillermet

explains: «When I arrived in Grenoble fifteen years ago, we

were just two IFR pilots. Things have obviously changed a lot.

To carry out this procedure, we started from scratch, without

involving the time parameter. In eliminating this constraint,

we were able to move forward in the right direction, avoiding

unnecessary pressure. »

HI I 48


The tests, which lasted almost three years, were carried out

in direct collaboration between the Dragon 38 teams and the

DGAC. In order to validate the IFR points, the French civil

aviation agency provided a special calibration bench on

board one of the Civil Security machines. « The DGAC teams

really did a remarkable job. They listened to us and helped us

move this program forward, » says the manager. At the same

time, and at the request of the DSNA (Direction des services

de la navigation aérienne de la DGAC), the crews of Dragon

38 and 74 had to develop a theoretical and practical training

program in order to obtain validation from the Direction de

la sécurité de l’aviation civile (DSAC) at the end of March

2020. At the same time, the controllers at Versoud received

specific training to welcome the Dragons in IFR. « We are

pioneers, » says Renaud Guillermet. « Things will undoubtedly

evolve, and that’s what this type of program is all about. Among

other things, we’ll have to further refine the performance of

the systems, always taking into account the specific nature of

our missions in the heart of the Alpine valley, in uncontrolled

airspace. »

After an edition at the AIP (Aeronautical Information

Publication) on March 26th, 2020, this Performance Based

Navigation (PBN) approach remains, for the DSAC, a

procedure exclusively reserved for Civil Security. « A procedure

tailored to our needs, but for the time being exclusively intended

for pilots at the Annecy and Grenoble bases » said Renaud

Guillermet. However, depending on requirements, it could be

opened up to other state operators (Gendarmerie), or even

private operators of the EC145. For these airspace users, it

would then be necessary to go through a private organization

in order to validate the entire procedure.

MORE ABOUT SÉCURITÉ CIVILE

HI I 49


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I OPERATOR I

BY FRÉDÉRIC LERT

©FRÉDÉRIC LERT

HI I 50


HI I 51


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I OPERATOR I

H

istorically a specialist in heliborne electrical work, Airtelis, a subsidiary of RTE (Ré-seau de

Transport d’Electricité), is the only user in Europe of two H225s fully equipped for aerial work.

Illustration with a power line reconstruction site in the Ariège valley.

A valley located in the heart of the French Pyrenees. The national road number 20 traces its path

towards Andorra and Spain, sharing the little free space between the railway line and the Ariège River.

A few kilometers before arriving at Savignac les Ormeaux, turn right, then take a small road that climbs

up to the foothills of the mountain, progress a few hundred meters to reach the Airtelis caravan and its

technical assistance trucks that have settled on a flat stretch of land. This is the ideal spot to set up the

base camp for the current construction site: the renovation of a few kilometers of a high-voltage power

line, the dismantling and removal of the old cables and pylons, and the installation of new equipment.

It took two weeks of work, a job site like no other for the Airtelis team and its H225, which accumulates

up to six hours of flight time every day.

HI I 52


SUPERTRAMP TOUR

The H225 is the heavyweight model of the operator

specialized in interventions of electrical networks. The

aircraft stands out at first glance by its blue and white paint

scheme, but also and above all, by the attributes of the

solid aerial worker: solid hook under the fuselage allowing

4.75 tons to be slung, «bubble doors» and wide mirrors that

encase its entire forward tip. At the rear of the fuselage,

the additional 1000-liter tank used by the military on the

H225M has been replaced by a glass installation used

during unrolling activities: an observer lying on his belly, with

his back to the step, has an unobstructed view of what is

happening under and behind the helicopter. The two H225s,

which have been in use by Airtelis for eight years, have each

logged just over 2,000 flight hours and are constantly on the

move. This week in Ariège, next month in Toulouse or Lyon,

and at the end of the year in the French Basque country...

The dates follow one another like a Supertramp tour.

The construction site of Savignac les Ormeaux began

with the dismantling of the old pylons, which now lie on

the ground, harmless as a defeated army. The new pylons

were then assembled by the giant mechanic 4-ton pieces.

A spectacular scene, familiar to both pilots who control

the installation of the pylons, as they fly very high above

the ground, as the crew work with a 30-50m sling, which is

added to the height of the pylon. The helicopter is essential

but it could not work alone; on the ground, a guide can be

found, in order to provide the third pair of eyes for the crew,

constantly announcing the heights to the pilots. The pilots

fight to position themselves precisely at the vertical of the

installation site. Other technicians on the ground grab the

ropes that hang under the pylon to control its rotation for

assembly. With parts weighing several tons, the ground

assistants’ make room for manoeuvring in the limited space,

where the placement of the helicopter must be perfect. «A job

of patience and precision,» sums up Frédéric Grandmougin,

former ALAT and Special Forces pilot. At his side, Jean-

Claude Partiot, is a former Air Force pilot. RTE and Airtelis

are ecumenical... Both men have accumulated 22,000 hours

of flying experience and an intimate knowledge of the Super

Puma family of aircraft and aerial work. The three other RTE

pilots qualified on the H225 have equivalent experience.

THE CLASS C PARTICULARITIES

After the removal of the old pylons, and the installation of the

new ones, the time has come to lay the new cables. The work

is first done with a de-coiler, carrying the reel that is taken

away by passing under the sling. The operation is common

but no less spectacular, requiring a very high degree of

control and precision. Each time the rope passes from one

tower to another, it is slid over a pulley, which allows the rope

to move from one tower to another.

« In the unwinding process, the cable is reeled in from another

reel on a sling measuring 16 to 21m below the helicopter,»

explains Frédéric Grandmougin. « The unwinder becomes

lighter as we progress, and we have to be very careful with this

progressive loss of weight so that we don’t see the load exceed

an angle of 30° in relation to the vertical result, without being

corrected based on the helicopter’s attitude. The danger, by

exceeding this angle, would be to no longer be able to release

the device in case of emergency, because the sling would remain

blocked at the bottom of the hook».

HI I 53


HELICOPTER INDUSTRY I OPERATOR I

The angle is controlled by the C-rated device, which has

been certified by Airbus Helicopter at the request of Airtelis.

It consists of a copy of the hook angle on an MFD. Sensors

that are located on the hook, are capable of sending a signal

on a test pattern that translates the position of the sling.

« In the event of overtaking, a visual and audible indication

warns us,» continues Frédéric Grandmougin. « Between 20°

and 25° of angle we enter the amber zone. Five degrees more

and one passes in the red. In case of immediate danger, it is

then imperative to slow down and/or release tension on the

unwinder».

Class C also includes cameras fixed under the fuselage; one

pointing down to film the unwinder, the other is oriented at

45° to film the hook. The images are then displayed on an

MFD.

To date, only three H225s in the world are equipped with the

Class C, two of which belong to Airtelis. To minimize the risk

of reaching this 30° angle, it is possible to generously ballast

the unwinder with 8 x 42kg jaws. «In this case, we have to find

the right compromise between the carrying capacities linked

to altitude and temperature, but also the autonomy depending

on the length of the cable to be unwound,» explains Frédéric

Grandmougin. The unwinder, with its jaws, weighs about

1500kg. In addition to this, we must add the traction exerted

and the weight of the reel, which vary according to the type

of cable and its length.

BUSY DAYS

Seemingly insensitive to these considerations, the H225

gently moves from pylon to pylon at a speed of 5 knots, a

speed dictated in particular by the maximum forces that can

be absorbed by the cable during installation. The skewed

body, with the pilot at the controls, and his head in the bubble

door, carefully monitors’ the position of the load and its

trajectory on the ground. At his side, his colleague monitors’

the outside environment and the instruments, especially the

power display.

Seen from the ground, everything looks so simple and fluid.

In the cabin, where the cyclic’s movements are measured in

millimeters, the concentration is palpable. Up to six hours of

flight per 24 hours, and the feeling of a job well done is not

usurped at the end of the day?

MORE ABOUT H225

HI I 54


WORLD POINT

DISTRIBUTION

COUNTRY

DISTRIBUTION LIST

AUSTRALIA

AUSTRIA

BELARUS

BELGIUM

BULGARIA

BRAZIL

CANADA

CHILE

CHINA

COLUMBIA

CROATIA

CYPRUS

CZECH REPUBLIC

DENMARK

FRANCE

(mainland & Corsica)

GERMANY

GREECE

HONG KONG

HUNGARY

ICELAND

INDIA

IRAN

IRELAND

ISRAEL

ITALY

JAPAN

LIBYA

LUXEMBOURG

MALLORCA

MARTINIQUE

MEXICO

MONACO

MOROCCO

NETHERLANDS

NEW ZEALAND

NIGERIA

NORWAY

PAKISTAN

POLAND

PORTUGAL

RUSSIA

SINGAPORE

SLOVAKIA

SLOVENIA

SOUTH AFRICA

SPAIN

SWEDEN

SWITZERLAND

TUNISIA

TURKEY

UAE

(Dubai, Abu Dhabi)

UKRAINE

UNITED KINGDOM

(England, Northern

Ireland, Scotland,

Wales)

USA

VENEZUELA

HI I 56


AVIATION SHOW

HI I 57


EUROPE - MIDDLE EAST - AMERICAS - AFRICA - ASIA - RUSSIA #103

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