X6 heavy lift helicopter
Airbus is developing a new heavy lift helicopter, referred to as the X6. A follow-up to the H225 Super Puma, which recently scored export success to Poland, the new concept model will undergo two years of concept definition, in collaboration with potential customers.
The concept phase start-up for a new European helicopter, Airbus Helicopters’ X6, was announced 16 June 2015 at the Paris Air Show, initiating a two-year definition period on this next-generation heavy-lift rotorcraft that will be tailored for the civil market. X6 will initially target oil and gas missions and will also be perfectly suited for Search and Rescue, VIP and other applications.
Major marketing, architecture and design choices for the twin-engine aircraft will be assessed to meet customer operational requirements during the concept phase, supported by a significant dialog with customers worldwide to validate the X6’s value creation for their operations.
The X6 is the newest arrival in Airbus Helicopters’ H generation, continuing on from the success of the H160. “X6 will be for the heavy segment in the next decade what the H160 is today for the mediums. It will set new standards in the industry not only for design, but for its production strategy as well, as we will rely on the industrial capacities of our core countries, including the upcoming pillar in Poland,” explained Guillaume Faury, the President & CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “Our objective is to bring to the market the most efficient helicopter solutions adapted for how our customers’ needs and the industry itself will evolve in the future.”
In defining and developing the X6, Airbus Helicopters will build on its reputation as a recognized leader in the industry, resulting in a next-generation, twin-engine rotorcraft that is mature and all-weather ready – including full de-icing - from the first delivery. One of the major innovations to be integrated on X6 is the Fly-by-Wire flight control system.
As the latest program to benefit from Airbus Helicopters’ long history of innovation and expertise, the X6 will share commonality features with the company’s latest rotorcraft – including the new H175 and H160. As one of the key-programs for the coming decades, the X6 also will maintain Airbus Helicopters' leadership in the oil and gas sector.
Once adequate program maturity has been achieved in the concept phase, a subsequent development phase will follow, leading to an X6 entry into service anticipated in the 2020s.
Airbus Helicopters is a division of Airbus Group. The company provides the most efficient civil and military helicopter solutions to its customers who serve, protect, save lives and safely carry passengers in highly demanding environments. Flying more than 3 million flight hours per year, the company’s in-service fleet includes some 12,000 helicopters operated by more than 3,000 customers in 152 countries. Airbus Helicopters employs more than 23,000 people worldwide and in 2014 generated revenues of 6.5 billion Euros.
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.
By early 2017 the X6 heavy helicopter, seen as the replacement for the H225, remained in the concept phase. Airbus Helicopters, with CEO Guillaume Faury called it as a “long-term investment.” Faury said Airbus anticipated “restoring trust” in the H225 following the 2016 fatal North Sea crash in which 13 were killed, prompting a temporary EASA grounding order. The order was lifted after a problematic planet gear was identified as the cause of the accident and an increased inspection regime was imposed.
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