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H225M EC225 / EC725

As the latest member of Airbus Helicopters’ military Super Puma/Cougar family, this 11-metric-ton helicopter, previously named the EC725, is ready for multiple missions. Designed for the most demanding missions, the H225M’s reliability and durability have been demonstrated in combat conditions and crisis areas that include Lebanon, Afghanistan and Mali, while also supporting NATO-led operations in Libya.

Airbus Helicopters announced a rebranding initiative in 2015 under which the EC-labeled designations of many of its helicopters were replaced by H-labeled designations [H for “helicopter”]. Military versions had the letter M at the end of the designation. The AS 350B2, AS 365N3+, AS 565MBe, EC 145e, AS 332C1e, AS 332L1e, AS 532ALe, Tiger, and NH90. retained their current designations.

Like no other helicopter in its class, the EC725 and its civil variant, the EC225, fuses military capabilities with commercial standards. The EC725 has entered service with the French Army and Air Force, while the EC225 has captured renowned customers in offshore oil and gas operations both in Europe and the United States, in governmental VIP flying services in Japan and Algeria, and in SAR as well as offshore operations in China.

The EC225/725 is the latest member of Eurocopter’s twin-engine, mid-range Super Puma helicopter-family (11 metric ton class). This gives the EC225/725 a superb heritage, with Super Puma family helicopters in V-VIP service in more than 50 countries, including the German and Spanish heads of state. The EC725 helicopter program was initially launched in response to a French Air Force requirement for a helicopter specifically designed for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) missions. The very demanding mission capabilities required by the Air Force account for the remarkable performance of this helicopter and its success in the international market. The EC225/725 prototype aircraft performed its first flight in November 2000 and its mission-focus lies on passenger transport – in particular for offshore and VIP, but also for public service missions such as Search and Rescue (SAR). It has an initial take-off weight of 10.4 metric tons and significantly increased performance capabilities such as a new main rotor system, a reinforced main gearbox, and an integrated display and piloting system. Deliveries commenced in 2004.

As the most recent newcomer to the Super Puma/Cougar family, the civil-certified EC225 and its military variant, the EC725, benefit from the experience of this large number of operators. With a take-off weight of 24,251 lbs (11,000 kg), the EC725/225 carries an impressive fuel load of 5,000 lbs, guaranteeing a flight time of 5 hours. In addition to new Makila 2A1 engines with a stronger main gearbox and a new five-bladed main rotor, the EC725/225 features a state of the art glass cockpit featuring six large and redundant multifunction displays.

Another special feature of the EC725/225 is its auto-pilot (AFCS) with unique capabilities. The EC725/225 AFCS is the first to be specifically designed for helicopter flight characteristics rather than being derived from fixed-wing aircraft auto-pilots. The precision and stability provided are already setting new standards of mission capacity and safety during French Air Force Personnel Recovery and CSAR missions as well as in demanding civilian SAR operations. As an example, the EC725/225 will permit automatic hoisting on land or at sea with unrivalled precision in conditions impossible for other aircraft.

The EC225/725 benefits from a Spheriflex main rotor head, which has already proven its effectiveness on the Super Puma L2 and the EC155 with reduced operating and maintenance costs. The tail rotor head is also made from Spheriflex technology. The main rotor has five blades with an advanced airfoil section. The five-blade configuration means that the vibration levels on the aircraft are extremely low.

In addition, the EC225/725 draws on unequalled experience, latest-technology and all-weather flying capabilities including the most severe icing conditions. The rotors and the horizontal stabilizer can be equipped with a deicing/anti-icing system that makes it possible to fly even in extreme icing conditions.

The main gearbox of the EC225/725 has been reinforced in order to cope with the aircraft's increased turbine power and gross weight. The casing and gears have been manufactured using ultramodern processes, which insure that these elements are extremely reliable. The lubrication circuit includes a back-up spraying system that complies with the JAR 29 requirements concerning a 30 minute dry-run capability.

The EC225/725 is equipped with two Turbomeca Makila 2A turbine engines. Special features to be noted on this new engine include a new air-flow concept and new materials. It generates 1800 kW (2448 SHP in contingency mode, 14% more than the previous version. Each engine is a self-contained assembly with all the necessary systems, equipment, and accessories for its operations. The fact that the engines are modular makes maintenance and inspection much easier. The FADEC digital engine control with dual duplex channels insures the highest level of reliability.

The EC225/725 is equipped with a new avionics known as the Advanced Helicopter Cockpit and Avionics System, featuring new flight, navigation and mission displays, Vehicle Management System monitoring the aircraft parameters Autopilot (APM 2000) , the digital 4 axis autopilot already installed on EC155 with a comprehensive suite of upper and SAR modes and Stand By Instruments. It reduces the flight crew's piloting workload significantly: with this integrated system, the pilot and copilot can concentrate on external mission features instead of on the aircraft's functioning.

Eurocopter and a key UK operator proposed the EC225 to the British Ministry of Defence on a COMR (Commercially Owned, Military Registered) basis as an interim solution to bridge the UK’s capability gap in the medium lift sector. This lease offer would provide the British Armed Forces with new, high-performance, state-of-the-art helicopters of the latest generation instead of upgrading and/or maintaining older-generation helicopters presently in service. Medium lift transport is one of the MOD’s highest priorities in view of the British Armed Forces’ out-of-area engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. The EC225, with a finance scheme that would not burden the MoD’s equipment budget, would seek to replace the existing Puma – and possibly Sea King Mk 4 – fleets. Eurocopter has extensive expertise in privately financed programmes, one example being the British Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS), founded in 1997 and operating AS350 Squirrel helicopters owned by FB Helicopters. Another example is Eurocopter’s joint venture (with Thales, Rheinmetall Defence and CAE) HFTS Helicopter Flight Training Services, which provides industry-financed NH90 simulator training centres already booked by the German and Swedish armed forces. The EC225 was also a contender for the forthcoming SAR-H programme which was recently launched by the MoD/MCA (Maritime Coast Guard Agency) organisation, with a similar finance scheme to the medium lift requirement.

In December 2008, Brazil placed a €1.9bn ($2.72bn) order for 50 EC 725 helicopters - 16 for the navy, 16 for the army and 18 for the air force. The helicopters are being manufactured in Brazil by Eurocopter's subsidiary Helibras. The first three EC 725 helicopters were delivered to Brazil in December 2010. By 2011 four of the 50 rotorcraft ordered had been delivered - one each to the air force, army and navy, with the other for use as a VIP transport. Brazil's armed forces were set to receive a further three Eurocopter EC725s in 2012, with each service again to receive a single unit. Deliveries were to increase to eight in 2013 and 13 the following year. Deliveries are scheduled for completion by 2016. As part of the agreement, these helicopters are to progressively include 50 percent Brazilian-made content. A state-of-the-art assembly facility created by Helibras at Itajubá will produce the EC725s, along with EC225 civilian versions for the regional marketplace.

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Page last modified: 18-06-2015 19:25:16 ZULU