EC175 medium twin
Despite the 1989 EU arms embargo, Eurocopter has sustained a technology relationship with Chinese helicopter companies, and has co-developed the EC-175/Z-15 advanced utility helicopter with China. On December 5, 2005, Eurocopter and HAIG (the subsidiary of the Chinese group AVIC II) signed an historic cooperation agreement which heralded the launch of the EC175 program. This agreement set in motion the development, industrialization and production of a brand new helicopter in the 6-7 metric ton class. Cooperating with an industrial partner 10,000 kilometers away is a risky move, but one was that was carefully planned for the EC175. Eurocopter and decision-makers in Beijing were driven by the same desire to develop this landmark helicopter, and its development costs were split right down the middle. Partnerships between Eurocopter and Chinese industry go back a long way. Eurocopter had been working with the Chinese for nearly 30 years. In the early 1990s, Eurocopter signed a cooperation agreement to develop the light, single-engine EC120. Over the years Eurocopter forged a steady relationship with Chinese partners built on trust, and these strong ties paved the way for this more ambitious project.
By early 2008 the development of the EC175, a joint program with China, was on schedule. In a two-year timeframe, starting from the contract signature on December 5, 2005, followed by the approval of the Preliminary Designed Review on December 5, 2006 and the acceptance of Critical Design Review on December 5, 2007 the design has been frozen. Production of the first prototype is launched. The maiden flight is scheduled for 2009, EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) type certification was expected for 2011.
Eurocopter's first EC175 performed its maiden flight in December 2009, with certification planned in 2011 followed by initial deliveries in 2012. By late 2010 the production line for EC175 airframes was operational at Harbin, China, and the helicopter final assembly line at Marignane is ready to receive the initial two Chinese-produced airframes - both of which are configured for oil and gas transport missions. Delivery of the initial airframe from China to Eurocopter in France was expected before the end of 2010, while the second arriving in the first half of 2011.
The EC175 is Eurocopter's next-generation medium twin, powered by two 2,000 shp-class P&WC PT6C turboshafts. The EC175 raises the bar in terms of cabin size, performance and reliability. Extensive end-user advice combined with the latest generation computer aided design and virtual simulation mock-up were essential to the optimization of the EC175. It is the roomiest, safest, most comfortable, easiest to fly, cheapest to maintain, most cost-effective 7-ton robust workhorse in the world. The EC175 was conceived as a robust, cost-effective workhorse helicopter in the 7-metric-ton weight category. It has the largest useful volume and payload - as well as the highest performance and range - in its class.
The EC175 is powered by proven and reliable Pratt & Whitney PT6C engines. The five-bladed main rotor and three-bladed tail rotor have new-generation blade profiles and tips. These not only offer a reduction in vibration and noise, but also provide improved lift and speed. The Spheriflex®-design, bearingless rotor head is damage tolerant. The EC175's all-new main gearbox has two accessory gearboxes for double redundancy and is capable of 30-min flight after total loss of oil. De-clutch capability gives Auxiliary Power Unit benefits without the cost and weight of an additional APU. The under floor fuel system has a four-tank standard configuration carrying more than 600 US gals (2,300 liters). One optional auxiliary fuel tank adds more than 90 US gals (almost 350 liters) for long range missions. The fuel system offers ground pressure refueling capability and is designed for safety with its simple architecture.
Wide, hydraulically-assisted siding doors on each side of the EC175's fuselage - combined with its unobstructed, flat-floored main cabin - provide easy access for a full range of operations. The cabin's overhead LED (light-emitting diode) lighting is compatible with night vision goggles. Behind the removable, stowable seats on the rear bulkhead is the helicopter's 83 cu. ft. (2.35 sq. meter) cargo compartment. Safety features of the EC175 include oversized front and aft emergency flotation gear that can remain fully armed in flight, along with deployable life rafts that are integrated in the step sponsons on each side of the aircraft. Large bubble windows located on both sides of the main cabin provide excellent visibility in all directions - including under the helicopter - and are large enough to accommodate night vision goggles. The console operator's seat can swivel into a side-looking position aligned with the adjacent bubble widow.
The EC175's glass cockpit is fitted with four 6 X 8-inch multi-function LCD displays, along with a large central mission display. The overhead area above the pilots is cleared of all switches and circuit breakers, which have been moved to the main pedestal - improving ergonomics and safety. Included in the EC175's avionics suite is a four-axis duplex autopilot, which provides high precision and stability for automatic transitions to hover, and enables search modes to be entered from any flight configuration.
The full-scale EC175 mockup at Heli-Expo 2010 was outfitted with mission equipment for the search and rescue role, including bubble windows, a chin-mounted electro-optic sensor turret, under-fuselage radome, SAR operator's console, cabin-mounted medical equipment and external winch. A side-mounted searchlight, along with up to six under-fuselage lights, provide area illumination, which are completed by main- and tail-rotor lighting for use when maneuvering near obstacles. In the Heli Expo concept configuration, a turret with large sensor ball is installed under the EC175's streamlined nose. Behind it is an underfuselage radome for a 360-deg. radar. Various options and combinations of electro-optics and radars will be available that offer 360 deg. coverage, increased ground clearance, and choices of radar performance. Large cockpit windscreens, plus side and chin windows, provide excellent visibility in all flight modes for the pilots.
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