Airbus Helicopters (Static Display C4) has completed the first flight of its H160 twin-engined medium helicopter.

The company quietly passed the milestone on June 12, at its facility at Marseille’s Marignane Airport, and photos of the occasion appeared on social media websites on June 13.

Airbus is yet to comment on details of the flight, which follows the beginning of ground tests of the first prototype – PT1 – on May 28, after a visit by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

The first flight is a significant moment for the H160, which is the first new design to be launched under the banner of Airbus Helicopters, and its new development carried out with techniques benchmarked against those of its colleagues building airliners in Toulouse.

But with a first flight under its belt, the new model won’t be making its Le Bourget debut this year. Instead the H160’s presence will be restricted to a full-scale mockup on show here.

PT1 is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210Es, despite the fact that Airbus has halted plans to use this engine in production H160s, which will be offered solely with Turbomeca’s Arrano 1A turboshaft. However, PW&C had already delivered the engines for testing before the decision to terminate the PW210 was announced in February.

The H160 is Airbus Helicopters’ EUR 1 billion (US$1.12 billion) gamble to try to retake a firm hold on a market long monopolized by AgustaWestland, which dominates this sector with the AW139. Airbus wants the H160 to appeal to the oil and gas support industry, search-and-rescue operators, emergency medical services, and corporate and VIP transport customers.

The H160 makes extensive use of new materials and technologies. Airbus has taken out 68 patents on the helicopter, for which it will begin taking orders in 2016, with first deliveries planned for 2018.