Airbus Helicopters has delivered the latest Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) H125 single-engine light helicopter to Qinetiq.
The helicopter was formally handed over by Colin James, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters’ UK, to Nic Anderson, Managing Director Air and Space at Qinetiq at the 2018 Farnborough Airshow. UK Minister of State for Defence Earl Howe visited the aircraft as part of the handover and met both Airbus Helicopters and Qinetiq to show his support for the latest addition to the ETPS fleet.
Under the current modernisation programme, the world-renown test pilot flight school will receive four H125s, which will make up ETPS’ new generation, single-engine helicopter fleet.
All four ETPS H125 will be delivered following complex customisation by Airbus Helicopters’ UK design team, which equips the aircraft with, among other things, a 3-axis autopilot, dedicated communications equipment and a traffic awareness system.
In addition, the aircraft will be equipped with a Flight Test Instrumentation suite which, similar to Formula 1 telemetry data, transmits data to the ETPS base at Boscombe Down in real time allowing students, both in practical and class-based environments, to test and evaluate aircraft design and performance.
ETPS functions as a training centre for flight test engineers and test pilots of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, and enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide. ETPS is run by the MoD and defence contractor QinetiQ under a long-term agreement.
ETPS was established in 1943, the first of its type. The school moved to RAF Cranfield in October 1945, then to Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough in July 1947, before returning to Boscombe Down on 29 January 1968.
Airbus Helicopters H125
The H125 (previously named the AS350 B3e) is an upgraded Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil (AStar) single-engine light utility helicopter.
It is now a member of Airbus’ rugged and proven Ecureuil family.
Some 6,200 members of the Ecureuil family (AS350, AS355, AS550, AS555, H125, H125M, EC130, H130) have been delivered in nearly 120 countries for some 1,900 operators. Together, these aircraft have accumulated more than 32 million flight hours.
About 700 H125 (AS350 B3e) series are currently in-service worldwide, and are mainly used for high performance missions in high and hot conditions.
The H125 has broken world records throughout its career. In 2005, the AS350 B3 broke the world record for the highest-altitude landing and takeoff, performed on Mount Everest at 8,848 metres (29,029 feet), a title still held today. On 19 May 2013, the AS350 B3 performed the world’s highest long-line rescue operation on Lhotse, the world’s fourth highest mountain, located in the Himalayas, at 7,800 metres (25,590 feet).