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Airbus Helicopters H135 (Eurocopter EC135)

Light Utility Helicopter (LUH)


Over 1,000 of the Airbus Helicopters H135 light utility systems have been manufactured since service introduction in 1996.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Airbus Helicopters H135 (Eurocopter EC135) Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).  Entry last updated on 7/3/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
Seeking to succeed its successful, yet aging, line of Bo 105 light utility, twin-engine helicopters, the Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) "EC135" was born from the Bo 108 prototype and has become a market success in its own right. The Bo 108, originally headed by Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB) of West Germany, was drawn up as a technology demonstrator becoming something of an evolved form of the earlier Bo 105. A first-flight was recorded on February 15th, 1994 and service introduction followed in 1996 with over 1,000 being built since 1995. The militarized variant has become the "EC635" product detailed elsewhere on this site.

The Bo 108 began as a test program through and through. Relying on proven facets of the Bo 105, this gave engineers the freedom to incorporate smaller revisions to the overall design and led to the incorporation of a hingeless main rotor assembly, broadened use of composite construction, a more streamlined transmission arrangement, digital avionics fit in the cockpit and a bearingless conventional tail rotor unit. Power came from 2 x Allison 250-C20R-3 turboshaft engines seated over the passenger cabin. The front of the aircraft was heavily glazed as in the Bo 108 and a fixed landing skid acted as the undercarriage.

By early 1991, the Bo 108 program proved its worth and led to MBB pushing the design to a market product stage. It was also decided to rely on a different engine fit - be it the French Turbomeca "Arrius" series or a turboshaft offered by American-based Pratt & Whitney (PW206). A second prototype went airborne on June 5th, 1991 with a pair of Arrius engines in place.

The emergence of the Eurocopter brand label saw MBB and Aerospatiale both merged under it and, perhaps most important to the new helicopter program, this provided engineers unfettered access to the Aerospatiale-designed "Fenestron" shrouded tail rotor. In this arrangement, a multi-bladed unit sat within a fixed housing buried within the vertical tail fin promising reduced noise levels and optimal efficiency at the cost of complexity. With that, the Bo 108 was revised with the tail unit technology and given the new Eurocopter designation of "EC135". First flight of this product came on February 15th, 1994 and certification followed in June of 1996. Since both of the aforementioned engine fits proved successful in testing, both were offered to market customers in separate variants.

Like other helicopters of this weight class, the EC135 went on to find service careers in civilian, governmental and military circles around the world. Military operators included Australia, Brazil, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Morocco, and Spain. Police and government security forces also took to the type in considerable numbers as showcased from its usage in the skies over Argentina and Australia to Turkey and the United States.

Several variants of the EC135 base design have been realized led by the initial EC135 P1 with its Pratt & Whitney engines of 621 horsepower each. The EC135 T1 fits the Arrius engine of 583 horsepower each and these have been followed by EC135 P2 and EC135 T2 with uprated engines from PW and Turbomeca respectively. Modern production versions carry the distinguishing "+" in their designation (i.e. "EC135 P2+") and the more powerful models are EC135 P3 and EC135 T3. A military training model is available as the TH-135 (based on the EC135 T2+) and the formal military model is the evolved EC635 / H135M, this offering originally developed against a Portuguese Army requirement.

The Eurocopter name is now a subsidiary of Airbus Group which uses Airbus Helicopters as its helicopter branch brand label. As such, the EC135 is now refered to as the H135.

Program Updates

May 2016 - it was announced that Airbus Helicopters would provide twenty-nine H135 series helicopters to the UK's Defense Helicopter Flying School through the Ascent consortium. This deal also adds three H145 series helicopters.

June 2017 - Work is underway to allow for local Chinese production of the H135 product. These are intended to serve police and medical services in the country.

February 2018 - Airbus has delivered it 1,300th example of the H135 helicopter.


YEAR: 1996
STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Airbus Helicopters (Formerly Eurocopter / Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm, MBB - Germany) - France
LENGTH: 33.46 ft (10.2 m)
WIDTH: 33.46 ft (10.2 m)
HEIGHT: 11.52 ft (3.51 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 3,208 lb (1,455 kg)
MTOW: 6,415 lb (2,910 kg)
POWER: 2 x Turbomeca Arrius 2B2 turboshaft engines developing 633 horsepower each OR 2 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B turboshaft engines developing 621 horsepower each and driving four-bladed main rotor and shrouded multi-bladed tail rotor.
SPEED: 180 mph (290 kph; 157 kts)
CEILING: 20,013 feet (6,100 m; 3.79 miles)
RANGE: 395 miles (635 km; 343 nm)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,500 ft/min (457 m/min)
OPERATORS: Argentina; Austria; Australia; Brazil; Canada; Croatia; Czech Republic; Gabon; Germany; Ireland; Japan; Lithuania; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Romania; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; United Kingdom; Turkey; United States

Variants / Models

• H135 - Revised designation under Airbus Helicopters brand label.
• EC135 - Original Series Designation
• EC135 P1 - 2 x Pratt * Whitney Canada PW206B engines of 621 horsepower each.
• EC135 T1 - 2 x Turbomeca Arrius 2B1 / 2B1A / 2B1A1 engines of 583 horsepower each.
• EC135 P2 - PW206B2 engines of 621 horsepower each
• EC135 T2 - Arrius 2B2 engines of 606 horsepower each
• EC135 P2+ (EC135 P2i) - PW206B2 engines of 667 horsepower each.
• EC135 T2+ (EC135 T2i) - Arrius 2B2 engines of 634 horsepower each.
• EC135 P2+ (EC135 P2e) - Increased MTOW
• EC135 T2+ (EC135 T2e) - Increased MTOW
• EC135 P3 - PW206B3 engines of 708 horsepower each
• EC135 T3 - Arrius 2B2Plus engines of 660 horsepower each.
• EC635 (H135M) - Militarized variant
• TH-135 - Military trainer variant

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (180mph).

Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Airbus Helicopters H135's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (1,000)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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