Light Civil Helicopter (LCH)
The prototype for Korea Aerospace Industries’ new light civil helicopter (LCH) flew for the first time in July 2018 in southern France, where flight testing is ongoing. Developed by KAI, the test flights of the first KAI-developed LCH prototype started in Marignane, France, two months ahead of the contractual timeline. These activities are carried out in the frame of the contract signed in 2015 with KAI, and as part of which the South Korean manufacturer is developing enhanced derivatives of the H155 for civil and military use. Airbus is providing technical support to KAI in this project.
KAI is developing two variants of the five-ton class H155: the LCH and a light armed helicopter (LAH) to replace legacy KAI-produced MD500s and Bell AH-1 attack helicopters. LAH is scheduled for first flight in 2019, with fielding to begin by November 2022. Both the LCH and LAH will be based on Airbus Helicopters’ H155 most modern version of the Dauphin family, which also includes the Panther military and parapublic variants.
In March 2015 it was announced that Airbus Helicopters will join with Korea Aerospace Industries in developing two five-ton class rotorcraft that meet South Korea’s requirements for its next-generation Light Civil Helicopter (LCH) and Light Armed Helicopter (LAH). As the LCH and LAH competition winner, Airbus Helicopters would continue its highly successful relationship with Korea Aerospace Industries, including the joint programme that developed Korea’s Surion twin-engine utility transport helicopter.
Both the LCH and LAH are based on Airbus Helicopters’ H155 (formerly known as the EC155) – the latest evolution of its best-selling Dauphin family, which includes the Panther military and parapublic variants that have demonstrated their capabilities in operation around the world. As part of the new commitment, Airbus Helicopters will transfer the company’s technical know-how – as already demonstrated in the Surion programme – to ensure Korea is able to develop its newest indigenous products, which will become leading next-generation light rotorcraft in the five-ton category.
The LCH version was expected to enter service in 2020 while the service introduction of the LAH was targeted for 2022. Airbus Helicopters President Guillaume Faury said: “We would like to express our deep gratitude to Korea Aerospace Industries and the South Korean Government for entrusting us with this major helicopter programme. We are committing our full support in ensuring the LCH and LAH projects will be completed on time, on cost and to specification. ... The LCH and LAH programmes will build on our collaboration with Korea Aerospace Industries on the Surion, which has become a reference in successful rotorcraft collaboration. By continuing our relationship, we will significantly reduce the risks of these two new development programmes, while meeting all of the mission requirements.”
Safran announced the first ground run of the Arriel 2L2 engine at its Bordes facility, beginning of June 2017. The Arriel family was selected in 2016 to power the new Korean civil and military helicopters, known as the LCH (Light Civil Helicopter) and LAH (Light Armed Helicopter). The Arriel 2L2 is co-developed by Safran Helicopter Engines and Hanwha Techwin, which will license-produce units in its Changwon plant, South-Korea. Hanwha Techwin will also be responsible for the engine's MRO.
Commented Nicolas Billecocq, Safran Helicopter Engines Vice President Light Helicopter Engines Program, "First Engine To Test is an important milestone in any engine program history. We look forward to next steps in the development of 2L2 and the LCH/LAH". Developed from the Arriel 2N, the 2L2 is the most powerful Arriel variant with a take-off power rating of 1024 shp. The Arriel 2L2 will deliver better reliability, power and performance during demanding missions. Certification is planned for late 2020 and entry into service for 2022.
The Arriel is the best-selling helicopter engine in its class. Over the past 40 years, over 12,000 units have been produced, together logging more than 46 million flight hours. With power outputs ranging from 650 to 1024 shp, the Arriel family now powers over 40 different helicopter types. Within its category, the Arriel is just as reliable as the CFM56.
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