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Airbus Helicopters H160 (X4) - France (2020)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Airbus Helicopters H160 (X4) Medium-Lift Multi-role Transport Helicopter.

 Entry last updated on 2/13/2018; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Airbus Helicopters H160 (X4)  
Picture of Airbus Helicopters H160 (X4) Medium-Lift Multi-role Transport Helicopter

The Airbus Helicopter H160 will continue the sleek appearance set down by the earlier EC155 and AS365 helicopter lines.

The Airbus Helicopters H160 (formerly known under the designation of "X4") is an in-development, medium-lift, multi-role helicopter attempting to take away a good portion of the market share long held by rivals AgustaWestland, Bell, and Sikorsky. Following the design lines established by previous offerings such as the AS365 "Dauphin" series, the H160 was unveiled in March of 2015 sporting a very futuristic appearance. Should all go well in development, Airbus Helicopters is eyeing delivery dates of its latest product for 2018.

Internally, the H160 seats two crew in a traditional side-by-side arrangement with plenty of window panels along the cockpit walls, floor, and ceiling for excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit. The instrument panel is dominated by four 6" x 8" Multi-Function Display (MFD) touchscreens that offer pertinent operational information. Avionics will be managed through a Helionix suite. The passenger cabin is set to carry up to twelve in comfort and is set aft of the cockpit in the usual way while under the twin engine installation on the roof. The engine of choice are 2 x Turbomeda TM800 "Arrano" series turboshaft systems outputting at 1,100 shaft horsepower (the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW120E was under consideration for a time also) driving a five-blade main rotor and Fenestron-shrouded tail rotor. The main rotor blade is a next-generation composite system (termed "Composite Blue Edge") and its design features slanted blade tips which improved the vortex result, increases Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW), improves fuel economy, and lowers operating noises. All of the main rotor blades are joined along a Spheriflex rotorhead.

One of the more unique features of the H160's tail rotor beyond its obvious use of a Fenestron shroud is its slightly angled (12 degrees to starboard) position which serves as something of a secondary lift device for the helicopter while pulling double-duty as an anti-torque system. Another noteworthy design feature is implementation of a biplane wing assembly along the tail stem just ahead of the Fenestron assembly - this intended to improved low-speed flying stability.

Airbus Helicopter is currently (2015) in the process of arranging the various test components that make up the proposed H160 to prove individual systems sound before full prototype flight testing ensues. However many of these proposed systems make it into the finalized product remains to be seen. Other existing Airbus Helicopter products will serve as in-flight testbeds and be followed by three total flyable prototypes (beginning with "PT1"). Preproduction helicopters will be designated "PS1".

For the lucrative civilian market, the H160 could very well threaten competitor holds in medical, corporate, Search And Rescue (SAR), and oil and gas industries. A militarized form - the H160M - is being bandied about that would feature service modifications and some weapons support.

In January of 2016 it was announced that the second test H160 vehicle had flown with production-quality engines (the "Arrano") installed. The flight took place on January 27th.

March 2017 - Certification for the H160 is planned for 2019. Two flyable prototypes have been completed. A third example is planned before the end of 2017.

March 2017 - The H160 has been selected by the French military for its Helicoptere Interarmees Leger (HIL) cross-service helicopter program. As many as 190 could be procured under the program and will succeed several helicopters currently in service with the French Army and Navy.

December 2017 - It was announced that Airbus had flown the third prototype of the H160 series helicopters. This particular example is notable in being closer to production-quality forms than previous iterations going airborne.

February 2018 - The French military has selected the H160 to replace six of its helicopter fleets beginning in 2028. 169 procurement examples are currently planned.

Airbus Helicopters H160 Specifications

Service Year: 2020
Status: In-Development
Type: Medium-Lift Multi-role Transport Helicopter
National Origin: France
Manufacturer(s): Airbus Helicopters - France
Total Production: 3

Operating Crew, Dimensions and Operating Weights

Operating Crew (Typical): 2
Overall Length: 45.93 feet (14 meters)
Overall Width: 39.37 feet (12.00 meters)
Overall Height: 13.12 feet (4.00 meters)

Weight (Empty): 8,818 lb (4,000 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 13,228 lb (6,000 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

Engine: 2 x Turbomeca TM800 Arrano turboshaft engines developing 1,100 shaft horsepower each while driving a five-blade main rotor and Fenestron-shrouded tail rotor.

Maximum Speed: 202 miles-per-hour (325 kilometers-per-hour; 175 knots)
Maximum Range: 391 miles (630 kilometers; 340 nautical miles)
Service Ceiling: 19,357 feet (5,900 meters; 3.67 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,750 feet-per-minute (533 meters-per-minute)

Armament / Mission Payload

None though military variants possibly armed with 2 x 7.62mm medium machine guns at side doors.

Global Operators (A-to-Z)

France (planned)

Series Model Variants

H160 - Base Series Designation; civilian market designation
H160M - Proposed military model designation
P1 - Initial prototype
P2 - Second prototype
P3 - Third prototype
PS1 - Preproduction aircraft designation
X4 - Original project name