Eurocopter performed the first flight of its new EC175 helicopter on schedule in Marignane, France. The EC175 program was launched on Dec. 5, 2005, and is the newest addition to the Eurocopter family. It has been developed and manufactured in cooperation with the China Aeronautics Industries Group Corp.
The new generation EC175 is a medium-lift twin-engine helicopter that can perform many different civil missions. Depending on its configuration, it can hold up to 16 passengers. Initially designed for the oil and gas industry, it is also being developed for missions such as search and rescue, emergency medical transport, and corporate transport.
The EC175 is powered by twin Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67E engines with dual-channel new generation full authority digital engine controls (FADEC). Standard equipment is a full screen glass cockpit and a digital four-axis automatic flight control system (AFCS). The EC175 also has a five-blade Spheriflex main rotor and a three-blade tail rotor that has been designed to keep vibration and noise levels to a minimum.
According to Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling, “This helicopter was developed in close cooperation with our customers to ensure it would be perfectly suited to their needs—particularly in terms of safety and comfort.”
A total of 114 EC175s have already been ordered by 14 different customers. Certification of the EC175 by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is slated for 2011, and the first deliveries are scheduled to follow in 2012. Eurocopter expects to sell 800 EC175s over the next 20 years, creating nearly 2,000 new direct and indirect jobs.