Airbus helicopters have announced that they are super close to having the H-160 type certificated. Airbus expects to have it ready with in the next few weeks, five years after the H-160 went airborne for the first time. As the approval will mark the start of a new phase in its sales effort, the airframer is putting emphasis on the reduced pilot workload in the H160’s flight deck.
Improving safety was a major aspect of the development. Airbus’s engineers made extensive use of incident and accident feedback and determined reducing the pilot’s workload was the way to go. “Fewer actions means fewer mistakes,” said experimental test pilot Olivier Gensse.
Some of the safety features include the what if an engine failure occurs. An engine failure has little impact on immediate workload – even on an offshore helipad. The system manages the sudden drop in power. If the engine failure takes place during takeoff before the decision point, the four-axis autopilot will bring the helicopter back to the spot it lifted off from (with a 0.5-meter precision). The pilot will only have to use the collective-pitch control to cushion the landing, said Gensse, if the engine does fail the auto pilot will continue to fly on one engine. The H160 also features a system to detect vortex ring state (VRS), an aerodynamic condition that causes the main rotor to sink. An aural and visual warning gives the crew a five- to seven-second notice, The system factors in the aircraft’s total energy, acceleration and deceleration.