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Airbus H160

Posted on March 08 2022

Airbus H160 user+1@localho… Tue, 03/08/2022 - 21:17

Airbus Helicopters’ H160 is a medium-twin category helicopter produced by the European manufacturer that was designated X4 during its initial development. Unveiled at the 2015 Heli-Expo, the H160 represents a number of firsts for Airbus Helicopters, including being the first airframe introduced after the company’s change in corporate identity from the former Eurocopter, as well as being the first to incorporate the company’s “new numbering designation.” In addition to changes in commercial and type designations, the H160 was also described at the time of its public debut as featuring “nose-to-tail breakthroughs” in the helicopter’s “design and systems,” changes that were meant to prioritize “customer satisfaction and operational safety.” The H160 improvements that are promoted by Airbus Helicopters include a Fenestron shrouded tail rotor that is described as being the “largest ever,” a Biplane Stabilizer and Blue Edge main rotor blades that increase payload while also reducing external noise levels. The H160 is also the first “fully composite civil helicopter,” the advantages of which include decreased airframe weight and maintenance requirements, while also making it “more robust [and] resistant to corrosion and fatigue.” Subsequent to its unveiling at Heli-Expo, the first prototype H160—designated PT1, registered as F-WWOG and powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210E engines—made its first flight from Airbus Helicopters’ facilities at Marseille Provence Airport on June 13, 2015, a flight that lasted approximately 40 min. Following the completion of its flight-test program, the H160 was certified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on July 1, 2020, with the first delivery—of an airframe registered as JA01NH—taking place in December 2021 from an Airbus Helicopters facility in Kobe, Japan, to Japanese operator All Nippon Helicopter (ANH).


According to the EASA type certificate data sheet (TCDS) for the H160 type—which designates the airframe the H160-B model—it is capable of accommodating up two 14 persons, including the single required pilot, in a cabin that has an internal volume of as much as 257.8 ft.3 When carrying cargo, the TCDS states that the maximum load of the cargo floor is either 661 lb. (300 kg.) or 728 lb. (330 kg.), the latter of which requires the installation of a cargo extension that is optional and “mandatory approved restraint nets.” Although it is certified to seat up to 13 passengers, Airbus Helicopters promotes the airframe as having a slightly lower maximum capacity of 12—three rows of four seats—with that configuration specifically marketed to oil-and-gas operators. Also possible for airframes utilized for offshore transportation is the ability to replace the center row of seats with a stretcher.

For helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operators, the H160’s cabin—which is promoted as being the “largest in its class”—can also be equipped with one or two stretchers arranged “in longitudinal or transversal positions,” based on the EMS kit that is installed. Beyond the size of the cabin and the number of stretchers that can be accommodated, other cabin features promoted by Airbus Helicopters include the size of the cabin itself and the sliding door, as well as the cabin environment and configuration. With regard to the latter, Airbus Helicopters states that a number of cabin configurations, seating layouts and models of stretcher are possible. The outfitting and size of the cabin is also a benefit to medical personnel, as are the cabin’s air conditioning and helicopter’s flight attitude, the latter which is noted as being flat. When loading and unloading passengers, the H160’s reduced amount of downwash is described as being a benefit, while, once in flight, the vibration level is promoted as being low up to the helicopter’s maximum cruise speed.

Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) also offers a version of the H160 that is configured for business and private aviation, an airframe that uses the ACH160 commercial designation and which is able to accommodate up to 10 passengers and 1-2 pilots. The possible cabin layouts include a four-seat configuration that has two forward and two aft-facing seats; five-seat configurations that have either three rear-facing and two forward-facing seats or two aft-facing seats and three forward-facing seats; and an eight-passenger layout that installs four aft-facing and four forward-facing seats.


From an operational perspective, the H160 is flown by its single required pilot utilizing Airbus Helicopters’ in-house-developed Helionix avionics suite, a system that has a four-axis Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) and which also includes four multifunction displays (MFD) that measure 6 X 8 in. Regardless of whether the airframe is flown in instrument or visual flight rules (IFR/VFR) conditions, the EASA TCDS states that the single pilot is required to be seated in the right pilot seat. As of July 2021, the Helionix system is also installed on the H135, H145, H175 and H225.

According to Airbus Helicopters, the H160’s four MFD can show a variety of information, one of which is the primary flight display (PFD) mode that gives pilots “all of the information necessary for flight-control tasks (i.e., the First-Limit Indicator).” The MFD can also display navigation information such as obstacles, terrain, traffic, waypoints and weather in the navigation display mode, while the digital map mode (DMAP) enhances situational awareness through its provision of “diverse cartographic layers” such as airports, air traffic control zones, elevation, heliports and obstacles. Other pages that are able to be displayed on the H160’s MFD include those for external video, sensor reconfiguration, systems and “vehicle management.” Yet another mode that improves the situational awareness of pilots and which can be shown on the MFD is the synthetic vision system (SVS) which provides a synthetic view of the helicopter’s environment, displaying information such as aeronautical information, obstacles, sea and terrain. When necessary, advisory information, caution and warning alerts and system information is also displayed on the MFD. Located beneath the MFD on the Helionix panel is an integrated electronic standby instrument (IESI) that serves as a back-up for the Stabilization Augmentation System, as well as giving pilots an “artificial horizon and minimum back-up flight information.”

The Helionix system is marketed by Airbus as lowering the workload of pilots and improving situational awareness, with both improved by the “Rig‘N Fly” (Rig Integrated GPS approaches with eNhanced Fly-ability and safetY) system that enables safer operations to and from offshore oil and gas platforms. According to Airbus, one of the features of Rig‘N Fly is “automatic rig approaches,” which it provides through the utilization of “a combination of sensors (GPS, barometric altimeter, radar altimeter, weather radar, etc.).” Both visual meteorological condition (VMC) and instrument meteorological condition (IMC) automated approaches are enabled by the flight precision and situational awareness provided by those sensors. Other capabilities of Rig‘N Fly include the ability to perform offset approaches that can “be tailored according to weather conditions and [the] oil rig environment[,]” which provides a “standardized approach [that] places the helideck in the most easily visible position for the crew.” The safety of approaches to offshore platforms is further enhanced by Rig‘N Fly’s Automatic Information System (AIS) and Digital Map, the former of which notifies “pilot[s] if a ship is about to interfere with its planned trajectory,” which allows pilots to decide whether incorporate a hold into the approach “or rerout[e] if necessary.”

Supplementing the ability of the Helionix suite to perform automated approaches to offshore oil and gas platforms, it will also provide H160 pilots with assistance during departure through an assisted-takeoff mode in which the autopilot will be in control of the helicopter “during lift-off, hover, acceleration and climb.” Airbus Helicopters states that when utilizing the assisted-takeoff mode, pilots need only supervise the flight path. Other approaches enabled by the Helionix system are localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches, lateral and vertical navigation (LNAV/VNAV) approaches and required navigation performance (RNP) approaches. The situational awareness provided by the H160’s MFDs is further supplemented by the system’s helicopter terrain awareness and warning system (HTAWS), which provides alerts of obstacles that are located along the airframe’s path of flight.

Mission and Performance

The primary types of users of this Airbus helicopter include HEMS providers, offshore oil and gas operators, public-sector agencies and business and private transportation providers. In addition to civilian variants, the H160 had been selected by the French government to replace a number of helicopters that are currently operated by the country’s armed forces.

Public-Service Missions

When operated on public-service missions, Airbus Helicopters promotes the H160’s cabin as able to accommodate the hardware that is necessary to perform missions such as aerial law enforcement and maritime search and rescue. In order to conduct of missions such as those, the airframe can be outfitted with hardware that includes cameras, an electro-optical system, hoist and loudspeakers, while also having the ability extricate persons. When compared to the flat flight attitude of the H160 during cruise flight that is promoted as being of value to HEMS operators, the nose-up attitude during hover is described as being helpful on public-service missions. 

Offshore Transportation

For offshore operators, the features of the H160 go beyond the 12-passenger cabin and Rig’N Fly system to the include the pilot’s visibility, emergency flotation equipment that is certified to Sea State 6 and push-out windows that exceed both the regulations of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) and “the Type IV requirement.” Also promoted for the offshore transportation market is the number of offshore platforms that the H160 is able to operate from, a capability that Airbus Helicopters notes as being possible because of the airframe’s D-value of 51.5 ft. (15.7 m), which the company states is the “largest dimension of the helicopter used for helideck assessment.” For operations from offshore oil and gas installations, the design of the H160 also focused on “corrosion robustness.”

Competitive Comparison: H160, AW139, Bell 412 and Sikorsky S-76

Type Designation



Bell 412EP


Commercial Designation


Bell 412EPI

Sikorsky S-76D

Maximum Passenger Seating Capacity





Maximum Range (nm)





Maximum Endurance

4 hr. 30 min.

5 hr. 13 min.

3.8 hr.

Engine (2X)

Safran Helicopter Engines

Arrano 1A

Pratt & Whitney Canada




Takeoff Power (shp)

1,280 (Takeoff)

1,100 (Takeoff)


Maximum Mass (lb.)

13,338 (In-Flight)

14,110/(14,991 or 15,430)1


11,875 (takeoff)

Usable Fuel Capacity (gal.)





Main Rotor Diameter

43.96 ft.

45 ft. 3 in.

46 ft.

44.06 ft.

Tail Rotor Diameter

3.94 ft.

8.86 ft.

8 ft. 7 in.

8.01 ft.

Fuselage Length

45.8 ft.

45.1 ft.

41 ft. 8 in.

43.37 ft.

Fuselage Width

11.6 ft.

7.41 ft.

9 ft. 4 in.

6.99 ft.

 Fuselage Height

16.11 ft.

12.2 ft.

10 ft. 5 in.

11.75 ft.

11Increased gross weights

2 Standard maximum gross weight (internal/external)

3 Maximum gross weight with optional increased-gross-weight (IGW) kit (internal/external)

4 Auxiliary fuel tank/longitudinal fuel tank

5 Serial Nos. 761004-761036

6 Serial Nos. 761037-

Performance limitations of the H160 include a power-on never-exceed airspeed (VNE) of 170-kt. indicated airspeed (KIAS), as well as a flight altitude that can range between -1,500-ft. and 20,000-ft. pressure altitude. For takeoff and landing, the minimum altitude ranges between -1,500-ft. pressure altitude and -4,600-ft. density altitude, while the maximum altitude is 13,000-ft. density altitude for Category B operations and 12,500-ft. density altitude for Category A clear-area operations. The EASA TCDS also states that, from a temperature perspective, the H160 can operate from -20°C to International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) +37°C, with the maximum temperature being 50°C. Beyond those certified limitations, Airbus Helicopters markets the H160 as having a 138-kt. recommended cruise speed, with a higher cruise speed of 155 kt. also possible. When equipped with standard fuel tanks, the H160’s maximum range and maximum endurance are 475 nm and 4 hr. 30 min., respectively. Additionally, when in ground effect (IGE), the hover ceiling is 9,300 ft.


H160 Specifications

Type Designation


Commercial Designation

Maximum Passenger Seating Capacity


Maximum Range (nm)

(Standard Fuel Tanks)


Maximum Endurance

(Standard Fuel Tanks)

4 hr. 30 min.

Engine (2X)

Safran Helicopter Engines Arrano 1A

Takeoff Power (shp)


Maximum Takeoff Weight (lb.)

13,338 (In-Flight)

Maximum Usable Fuel Capacity (gal.)


Main Rotor Diameter (ft.)


Tail Rotor Diameter (ft.)


Fuselage Length (ft.)


Fuselage Width (ft.)


 Fuselage Height (ft.)


Safran Helicopter Engines Arrano 1A

The H160 is powered by a pair of Safran Helicopter Engines Arrano 1A engines, a turboshaft engine that was unveiled at the 2013 Heli-Expo. That engine is the only one available and certified for the H160-B, with the Arrano series as a whole able to produce between 1,100 and 1,300 shp. However, Airbus states that the Arrano 1A variant that is approved for the H160 has a takeoff power of 1,280 shp. In terms of other applications, the series is promoted as being “designed” for twin-engine helicopters in the 4-6-ton segment, as well as single-engine turbine helicopters weighing between two and three tons. The improvements provided by the Arrano series include fuel burn that is lowered by 15% in comparison to “other in-service engines.” The engine manufacturer states that because the Arrano 1A’s accessories and components are “easy to access, disassemble and exchange,” the engine’s “maintenance time” will be reduced by 40%.

Technologies integrated into the Arrano 1A include a fourth-generation full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system, a centrifugal compressor that has two stages and which is promoted for its efficiency and size, a gyratory combustion chamber that Safran Helicopter Engines describes as being “highly fuel efficiency” and fuel-injector nozzles that are 3D printed, the latter of which is described as being a “world first.” According to the engine manufacturer, the 15% decrease in fuel consumption is made possible by the engine’s thermal efficiency and two-stage centrifugal compressor, with the compressor “developed within the European Clean Sky program” and incorporating variable inlet guide vanes (IGV) that are of a “new design.” The digital control system is also noted as improving responsiveness in flight, which has benefits in both pilot handling and safety.

H160 Design and Limitations

When the airframe was announced in 2015, Airbus Helicopters noted that the development of the H160 began in 2013, with the “final aircraft configuration confirmed” in 2015. Described on the EASA TCDS as being a “medium twin-engine transport helicopter” that is in a conventional configuration, that document also states that the airframe’s fuselage is made of a composite structure, it is flown using a mechanical control system that is hydraulically actuated and the tricycle landing gear is retractable. The operating limitations noted in the EASA TCDS include IFR and VFR conditions that do not include icing. Furthermore, when an inlet barrier is not installed, flight in blowing and falling snow is not allowed.

In flight, the H160’s maximum mass is 13,338 lb., while on the ground that limit is a slightly higher 13,448 lb. The maximum usable fuel capacity is 380.4 gal. according to the EASA TCDS, with Airbus further promoting the airframe as having the ability to carry a useful load of 4,409 lb. and a “maximum cargo sling load” of 3,527 lb.

H160 Innovations

Beyond its Arrano 1A engines, other areas of improvement on the H160 include the landing gear, main rotor hub and blades and Fenestron shrouded tail rotor. With reference to the former system, the H160’s electric landing gear gives it the ability to carry more payload while also requiring less maintenance. The airframe also incorporates Airbus Helicopters’ Spheriflex main rotor hub that is bearingless, a technology that is improved further through the use of “innovative composite thermoplastic technology.” According to the helicopter manufacturer, in addition to improving damage tolerance, the incorporation of that technology into the Spheriflex main rotor hub also results in a weight reduction. Another change made to that part of the helicopter are the Blue Edge main rotor blades, which lower the exterior noise level by 50% (3 dB). Representing the “initial production use” of those rotor blades, the Blue Edge main rotor blades enable the payload to be raised by as much as 221 lb. (100 kg.), an increase that is dependent upon flight conditions and which is in comparison to traditional rotor blades. Thanks to the Blue Edge main rotor blades—which allow for an exterior noise level that is 50% lower—Fenestron tail rotor and “design features” such as the automatic variable rotor speed control system, the H160’s sound level is reduced by 5 dB in comparison to “previous-generation helicopters.”

In the aft portion of the helicopter is the Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, which is described by Airbus Helicopters as being the “largest ever Fenestron tail rotor.” That airframe component is “doubled-canted at 12-deg. angles,” with its benefits including improvements in “anti-torque control efficiency.” Finally, the aforementioned Biplane Stabilizer—which is promoted as being a “unique design [that] involves a staggered placement of the dual-level, interconnected stabilizers”—provides operators with benefits such as aerodynamic penalties in hover and low-level flight which are substantially reduced, while also helping pilots fly the H160.


As part of France’s Light Joint Helicopter program—Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger (HIL)—Airbus Helicopters and the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) signed a contract “for the development and procurement” of a militarized version of the H160 that is designated the H160M. That militarized helicopter is slated to replace six existing military helicopters operated by the country’s air force, army and navy. When the contract between Airbus Helicopters and the DGA was announced on Dec. 22, 2021, the airframe manufacturer stated that the contract covered prototype development and “the delivery of the first batch of 30 aircraft,” including one for the air force, eight for the navy and 21 for the army. Promoted as being able to perform missions that include air intercept, anti-ship warfare, commando infiltration and fire support, the company also stated that 169 H160M airframes are planned to be ordered by the French Ministry for the Armed Forces, with the first being delivered in 2027 to the French Army.

Program Status/Operators

The development and flight-test program of the H160 included five airframes: three flying prototypes, as well as “a dynamic helicopter zero [and] a system helicopter zero.” The helicopter zeros were described by Airbus Helicopters as being “ground-based integration test means that enable comprehensive validations of the various systems integrations to ensure the highest levels of maturity” prior to the airframe’s first flight, while also having the benefit of reducing the overall development process. One of the ground-test systems, dynamic helicopter Zero, “is a test bench fully representative of the rotorcraft’s dynamic systems,” including avionics, electrical, hydraulic and health/usage monitoring system, as well as the flight controls for the main and tail rotors. Comparatively, system helicopter zero was noted as integrating “all key elements that are connected electronically and involve software,” in addition to H160 systems such as avionics, electrical harnesses, flight controls, fuel system, hydraulics and lighting.

As was noted previously, the first prototype H160 made its first flight in June 2015 from the company’s facilities in Marseille where the helicopter is also produced. The first ground run of the second H160 prototype—designated PT2 and registered as F-WWPL—took place on Dec. 18, 2015, with its first flight occurring a little over a month later on Jan. 27, 2016. At the time Airbus Helicopters announced the first flight of PT2, 75 hours of flight testing had been performed by PT1, testing that “allowed the aircraft to open the flight envelope and validate some of the helicopter’s features and handling qualities.” The first flight of PT2 also represented the first flight of an H160 powered by the Arrano 1A engine, as PT1’s initial testing—from first flight to May 2016—was powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210E engines. PT3, the third and final flying prototype—registered as F-WWPA—made its first flight on Oct. 13, 2017, an airframe that had its cabin configured “similar to that of a serial aircraft.” By the time PT3 made its first flight, PT1 and PT2 had accumulated more than 500 flight hours, with Airbus stating that the “flight envelope [had] already been fully tested and opened” by the first two prototypes.


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