Safran Helicopter Engines has achieved European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification of the Arrano turboshaft for Airbus’ new H160 twin-engine medium helicopter.

The milestone, announced this week at the Paris Air Show, is the next key step toward the service entry of the new helicopter, which is due for certification at the end of this year and will enter service with its first customers in 2020.

Safran claims the 1,280-shp Arrano 1A delivers a 15% fuel-burn reduction over other in-service engines in the same class thanks to its use of a two-stage centrifugal compressor, developed as part of the European Clean Sky program and new-design variable inlet guide vanes (IGV) to improve the engine’s thermal efficiency.

“The engine brings with it reductions in maintenance costs and maintenance man-hours,” said Franck Saudo, CEO of Safran Helicopter Engines.

“We have worked hard to synchronize the maintenance tasks between the engine and the helicopter,” he adds.

The same engine will also power the H160M Guépard planned for France’s Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger (HIL), or Joint Light Helicopter, program.

Certification of the new turboshaft arrives at a time when the company is undertaking extensive research and development into propulsion, which will have much broader applications than just helicopters.

On June 12, the company conducted the first ground runs of its Tech-TP turboprop demonstrator, based on the Ardiden turboshaft and developed as part of the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation program

The Ardiden is a family of engines developed to produce 1,700-2,000-shp and variants of the engine power the HAL Dhruv utility helicopter, the HAL Light Combat Helicopter and the Kamov Ka-62.

The Tech-TP studies aim to validate the technologies needed to develop a new-generation turboprop engine with a compact, lighter-weight architecture and will also evaluate the use for more electric technologies in the accessory gearbox and propeller controller components.

The engine has been adapted with a power and accessory gearbox, propeller and adaptations for the air intake.

Meanwhile, the company is continuing the tests of a hybrid distributed propulsion system in support of its work to power Bell’s Nexus urban air mobility vertical takeoff and landing platform.

The trials are currently making use of an adapted Arriel turboshaft, but Safran plans to produce a more optimized design – in terms of weight and cost – turbogenerator to meet Bell’s aims of bringing a UAM platform to market by 2025.

So far, the company’s work on hybrid distributed power has produced an output of 100 kW, but here at the Paris Air Show, Safran is displaying a mockup of a more powerful turbogenerator system based on the Ardiden that would be potentially capable of producing about 600 kW. The power output could pave the way for use on small hybrid-powered regional aircraft.

“One of the strengths of Safran is having a large range of gas turbine and the capacity to hybridize this range of gas turbines,” said Saudo.

The company is also revealing plans to run a technology demonstrator turboshaft with 30% of its components produced using additive manufacturing later this year.

The Add+ project, which is based on the Arrius engine, will pave the way for greater use of additive manufactured parts in the company’s engines.

Components produced using the additive manufacturing include the nozzle guide vanes, combustion chamber and stator rear module, made using selective laser melting (SLM) techniques.

“This is about redesigning subsystems and modules to take advantage of the possibilities opened by additive manufacturing,” says Saudo.

The company will not say how much weight or cost is saved through the process, but Saudo says the program is targeting production-cost reductions.

Safran says the accessory gearbox casing can now be made from two elements instead of 12, and assemblies of what were hundreds of pieces can be molded as single pieces.