Australian military’s new EC135 T2+ training helicopter takes to air

Jan 26, 2015

The Australian military’s new EC135 T2+ training helicopter has taken to the air. The first flight was within only two months of the HATS contract signing.

The first EC135 T2+ helicopter in a planned fleet of modern, twin-engine, rotary-wing aircraft being acquired by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for its new Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS), has successfully completed its first flight in Europe.

Australian military’s new EC135 T2+ training helicopter takes to air

Under the HATS project, a joint training scheme for both Army and Navy aircrew will utilise some 15 Airbus Helicopters EC135 T2+ trainers, along with EC135 flight simulators and a new flight-deck equipped, sea-going training vessel.

Boeing Defence Australia

Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) is the prime contractor for the new training system, partnered by Thales Australia which will provide the flight simulators.

The first EC135 T2+ (Serial Nbr.1179) took off from the Airbus Helicopters’ production site in Donauwörth, Germany, where the helicopter is assembled at 14.37 local time on 16th January and landed back on site 57 mins later.

Airbus Helicopters

The Airbus Helicopters Flight Test Department reported the successful first flight had validated the full performance of the aircraft’s systems and engines, and that future flights would test specific customer equipment.

Peter Harris, Airbus Helicopters Head of Sales – Australia Pacific: “At Airbus Helicopters we are thrilled to have reached such a fantastic milestone in only two months from contract signing last November. This clearly demonstrates the commitment that we have towards supporting Boeing Defence Australia in meeting the ADF’s needs for training all future combat helicopter aircrew for the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army. We will take all of our milestones just as seriously.”

While the EC135 T2+ is a civil design helicopter, it has also proved to be a consummate military trainer. With a high-visibility glass cockpit, multi-axis auto-pilot and the performance and safety of a twin-engine helicopter replacing current single-engine types, it is similar to the multi-role and combat helicopters now in service with the ADF – including new-generation Tiger ARH and MRH90 helicopters – and meets all training, technical and safety requirements for future Army and Navy aircrews.

Initial Operating Capability (IOC) is scheduled for late 2018 although students will begin arriving earlier. When fully IOC the HATS system will accommodate up to 130 students a year covering pilots, aviation warfare officers, aircrewmen, sensor operators and qualified aircrew returning for instructor training.

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Royal Thai Navy and Air Force place Airbus Helicopters order

Oct 22, 2014

The Royal Thai Navy and Air Force have placed orders for five EC645 T2 and two EC725 military aircraft from Airbus Helicopters.

The Royal Thai Navy signed for five EC645 T2 light utility aircraft to be deployed on transport duties and other missions. Deliveries for these helicopters are scheduled to begin in 2016. Its purchase represents the first export order of this militarised version of the EC145 T2, which is the newest and most powerful model in Airbus Helicopters’ proven EC145 light twin-engine helicopter family.

Royal Thai Military Helicopter Orders

In the Royal Thai Air Force’s order of Airbus Helicopters’ EC725, the military service is obtaining two of the tactical transport aircraft for SAR/CSAR (search and rescue/combat search and rescue) missions, operating from Wing 2 at Lop Buri Air Base in Thailand’s Lop Buri Province. These aircraft will be delivered in 2017, joining the four previously-ordered EC725s booked in 2012 for deliveries from 2015.

Airbus Helicopters EC725

Airbus Helicopters EC725

“By acquiring both the EC645 T2 and EC725, Thailand will be operating two of the most capable helicopters in their categories, delivering high levels of mission flexibility with their modern avionics and rugged airframes,” said Philippe Monteux, Airbus Helicopters’ Head of Region South East Asia & Pacific.

The EC645 T2 features a modern digital cockpit and a 4-axis autopilot. With a maximum take-off weight of 3.7 tons, the helicopter is powered by Turbomeca Arriel 2E powerplants equipped with dual-channel full authority digital engine controls (FADEC). Operational safety is enhanced by Airbus Helicopters’ Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, particularly for landings and takeoffs in confined landing sites, as well as during loading/unloading on the ground while the rotor is turning.

The EC725 is a highly capable twin-engine helicopter with a digital 4-axis autopilot and five-blade composite main rotor. It can perform multiple missions that range from combat search and rescue, long-range tactical transport and aeromedical transport to logistic support and naval duties.

Currently operated by the military forces of France, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand and soon in Indonesia as well, the EC725’s reliability and durability has been confirmed in such crisis areas as Lebanon, Afghanistan and Mali, while also supporting French troops during NATO-led operations in Libya.

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Boeing starts assembly of the final KC-46A Tanker test aircraft

Jan 17, 2014

Boeing has begun assembling the fourth and final KC-46A Tanker test aircraft for the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation aerial refueling tanker program. The work is being carried out at the company’s Everett factory. Current the program is still on track to deliver the initial 18 tankers to the Air Force by 2017.

“All four test aircraft are moving through production to support our transition to ground and flight testing later this year,” said Maureen Dougherty, Boeing vice president and KC-46 Tanker program manager.

KC-46A Tanker

Boeing starts assembly of the final KC-46A Tanker test aircraft

“Our joint Boeing and U.S. Air Force team continues to deliver on our commitments to the warfighter.”

The aircraft are commercial derivatives of the Boeing 767 airliner. The military version design features aerial refueling capabilities which will be installed later at Boeing Field in Seattle. The 767 is a proven jet in service as an airliner, freighter and international tanker, with more than 1,060 delivered worldwide.

The first flight of an Engineering and Manufacturing Development KC-46 tanker program test aircraft, without its aerial refueling systems, will hopefully take place by the middle of this year, followed by the first flight of a KC-46A tanker in early 2015. The first delivery of a production aircraft to the Air Force is planned for early 2016. Boeing expects to build 179 tankers by 2027 if all options under the contract are exercised.

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WW1 Handley Page bomber wings found in a garage moved to RAF Stafford

Nov 27, 2013

The unique remains of a First World War Handley Page O/400 bomber aircraft have been saved by a team from the RAF Museum.

Members of the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at the RAF Museum Cosford, have succeeded in rescuing a number of wing sections from a 95 year old bi-plane bomber which had been used to support a garage roof in Connah’s Quay, Flintshire. The 25 foot long wooden wing sections included four examples of the lower starboard wing and one lower port wing.

The RAF Museum was first alerted to the existence of the wings in April this year when an email was received suggesting that the roof of a building, which was due for demolition, had been constructed using wing components from a Second World War Wellington bomber.  However, the Museum’s curatorial staff instantly recognised that the wings were from a much earlier aircraft.

Handley Page O400 of 207 Squadron in flight - Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum

Handley Page O400 of 207 Squadron in flight – Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum

Senior Curator Al McLean:

“A visit to the site revealed that these were wooden wings with a type of construction known as box spars.  This suggested that the aircraft dated from the latter part of the First World War and given the size of them, there were only a few aircraft types they could have originated from. The Handley Page O/400 was the obvious candidate and after a brief look at a manual we were fairly positive that that was what we were looking at.”

The RAF Museum discussed the identity of the wings with the site owner, Mr Alan Sullivan, and explained that they were even rarer than first thought. Mr Sullivan kindly allowed the Museum to remove the wings while the site was being cleared for development.

The Handley Page O/400

Originally ordered as an improved version of the Royal Naval Air Service’s O/100, the O/400 became the Royal Air Force’s standard heavy bomber during the closing months of the First World War.  The giant twin engined aircraft had a wing span of 100 feet and could attack targets up to 350 miles away with a payload of 16 112lb bombs or a single 1650lb bomb.  From October 1918 O/400s undertook night raids against targets in Germany as part of the RAF’s Independent Air Force.  After the war, O/400s continued in Squadron service as communication and transport aircraft until 1921 with the last RAF example retiring in 1923.  Converted O/400s were also used by Handley Page Transport Ltd in their pioneering passenger service between London and Paris during the early 1920s.

RAF Museum Curator, Ewen Cameron said

“The Handley Page O/400 is a vitally important aircraft in the history of the RAF.  One of the main reasons the Royal Air Force was established in 1918 was so that it could operate as an independent arm of the military, capable of striking deep into the heart of enemy territory undermining that enemy’s strategic base and it was largely the O/400 which offered the RAF this capability”.

The O/400 wings were retrieved in October 2013 and moved into the Museum’s storage facility at RAF Stafford.  Here the Museum houses other O/400 parts consisting of an outer panel from the upper wing, a number of interplane struts and a set of elevators, all believed to be the only known examples in the world.  For further information, please visit the Royal Air Force Museum website

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Second Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft is delivered to India

Nov 18, 2013

Boeing delivered the second P-8I aircraft to India last week, doubling their country’s long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

Boeing is building eight P-8I aircraft for India and delivered the first in-country earlier this year in May. Based on the company’s Next-Generation 737 commercial aircraft, the P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing has developed for the U.S. Navy.

“With two aircraft at Naval Station Rajali now, the Indian Navy will get a good feel for the P-8I’s interoperability with other aircraft,” said Leland Wight, Boeing P-8I program manager.

Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft

Second Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft is delivered to India

“Acceptance trials on the first aircraft are progressing well and its availability for testing has been excellent, in large part due to Boeing’s worldwide 737 support capabilities.”

While this aircraft will begin flight trials in the coming months, the first P-8I recently completed testing its weapons capabilities, including successfully firing a Boeing Harpoon missile at a target and dropping a torpedo.

In order to efficiently design and build the P-8I and the P-8A, the Boeing-led team is using a first-in-industry, in-line production process that draws on the company’s Next-Generation 737 production system.

The P-8I features open system architecture, advanced sensor and display technologies, and a worldwide base of suppliers, parts and support equipment. P-8I aircraft are built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.

Boeing offers India a broad spectrum of defense, space and security solutions that are relevant to India’s current and future military and humanitarian needs. Boeing India’s corporate office is in New Delhi.

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