Aircraft Overview: Airbus H145
The H145 is an intermediate twin-engine helicopter that is based on the MBB-BK117 type and produced by European manufacturer Airbus Helicopters. What is now Airbus Helicopters was formerly known as Eurocopter, with variants of the MBB-BK117 type marketed under the EC145 commercial designation.
The first variant of the MBB-BK117 to use the EC145 designation was the MBB-BK117 C-2, which was certified on Dec. 20, 2000, while another version of the C-2—the MBB-BK117 C-2e—received approval from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on April 17, 2015. Two of the MBB-BK117 variants marketed as the H145—the D-2 and D-3—were certified by EASA on April 16, 2014, and June 19, 2020, respectively, with the latter distinguished from the prior variants by its five-blade main rotor.
Although the maximum passenger seating capacity that is certified for all MBB-BK117 variants marketed as the EC145 and H145 is nine, MBB-BK117 C-2 airframes are able to carry 10 passengers if certain modifications are completed. According to Airbus Helicopters, possible configurations of the H145’s cabin include an eight-passenger layout—which features both forward and aft-facing seats, and is promoted as being ideal for offshore operations and passenger transport—as well as a 10-passenger high-density configuration. For law enforcement and special forces users, the cabin has accommodations for 10 or 11 personnel—in addition to 1-2 pilots—while one of the possible layouts for helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operators can carry a pair of stretchers, 1-2 pilots and as many as three medical personnel.
In terms of crew requirements, all variants of the MBB-BK117 are certified for single-pilot operations, with the pilot required to operate the helicopter from the right front seat. H145 airframes are equipped with Airbus Helicopters’ in-house-developed Helionix avionics suite that is promoted as improving pilot(s) situational awareness and the safety of operations.
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Airbus Helicopters markets the H145 as being capable of performing a number of different missions, including aerial work, HEMS, energy support—offshore wind energy, as well as both offshore and onshore cargo and passenger transportation—law enforcement and private and business transportation.
The operating limitations of the MBB-BK117 variants marketed as the EC145 and H145 include a never-exceed speed (VNE) of 150 kt. indicated airspeed (KIAS)—a limitation noted as being the maximum power-on VNE with all engines operating for the D-3—with Airbus also stating that the recommended cruise speed is 129 kt. While the MBB-BK117 C-2 and C-2e are certified to a maximum operating altitude of 18,000 ft., the D-2 and D-3 increase that limitation to 20,000 ft. Additionally, the H145’s maximum endurance and range—both of which are based on standard fuel tanks and sea-level altitude—are 3 hr. 34 min. and 351 nm, respectively.
On Air Charter Guide, March 2021, there are two Airbus H145 for charter through two different charter operators including a 9-seater from Airlift SA.
All four of these MBB-BK117 variants are powered by a pair of Safran Helicopter Engines (formerly Turbomeca) Arriel engines, with the Arriel 1E2 engine approved for the C-2 and C-2e, and the Arriel 2E certified for the D-2 and D-3. On the H145, those Safran engines are promoted as having a takeoff power of 894 shp.
Similarly, both the C-2 and C-2e are certified to the same 7,900-lb. maximum weight, a limit that is increased to 8,378 lb. for the D-2 and D-3. However, the 8,157-lb. and 8,378-lb. maximum weights for the D-2 are described in the EASA type certificate data sheet (TCDS) as being alternative maximum weights, with the maximum weight of that variant without modification being 8,047 lb. Fuel capacity is also differentiated between helicopters marketed as the EC145 and H145, with the C-2 and C-2e further distinguished based upon whether a particular airframe has standard or self-sealing fuel tanks (229 gal. and 225 gal. usable fuel capacities, respectively).
H145 airframes based on the D-2 and D-3 variants increase the usable fuel capacity in standard tanks to 239 gal. Airbus also states that the H145’s maximum weight is the same regardless of whether or not it is carrying an external load, while that version of the helicopter has a useful load of 4,200 lb.