Eurocopter's delivery of the first production modernized CH-53GA transport helicopter to the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) was celebrated during a ceremony at the ILA Berlin Air Show.
The Eurocopter Military Support Center Germany currently is performing the comprehensive upgrade of 40 Bundeswehr CH-53G aircraft to the CH-53GA specification for both national and international deployment – providing the German armed forces with a modern fleet of these helicopters equipped for an operational lifetime lasting beyond 2030.
Handover of first production helicopter for field tests was made by Helmut Richter, representing the Federal Office of Defense Administration, to Army Aviation Commander Brigadier Reinhard Wolski. The Air Force Procurement Commander, Brigadier Herrmann Muntz, also attended the ceremony.
Eurocopter is upgrading the 40 helicopters during a three-year period. In addition to this milestone helicopter’s handover today, three others in an initial configuration have been used for training flights since July 2012.
“This CH-53GA upgrade is an impressive example of our close and fruitful partnership with the Bundeswehr, which has seen us working together to implement necessary improvements for the helicopter’s future mission requirements,” explained Ralf Barnscheidt, Senior Vice President of Eurocopter Germany and head of the Military Support Center Germany. “I want to thank all involved, including the Federal Office of Defense Administration, and those in charge of certification at the Bundeswehr Technical Center 61, the Air Force Weapon System Command and the Army Aviation School.”
The CH-53GA is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics and communications systems, which also are approved for use alongside the Tiger support helicopter and NH90 transport helicopter. Additionally, pilots will now be able to make use of a four-axis autopilot with auto-hover automatic flight control system, as well as an up-to-date electronic warfare system for threat recognition and electronic self-protection. In another enhancement, navigational accuracy is brought up to international instrument flight rules (IFR) standards, with the upgrade extending to display and control functions – which are now contained in a glass cockpit with five multi-function displays.
The scope of CH-53GA upgrades also covers Eurocopter’s delivery of modular, mission-specific equipment packages installable in line with mission requirements. These include an infrared observation system in the form of a forward looking infrared (FLIR) system, a satellite communications package, along with auxiliary fuel tanks that extend the aircraft’s range up to 1,200 km. As part of the refit, weaknesses in the helicopter airframe arising either from age or use also are being addressed and the wiring renewed.
With its modern avionics architecture, the CH-53GA also is ideally prepared for any future expansions of its mission envelope.
The CH-53G in action – national and international missions
During the past 35 years – and indeed for the foreseeable future – the CH-53G has formed the backbone of countless Bundeswehr operations overseas. It is no stranger to harsh conditions. Since entering service, this helicopter has guaranteed not only the flexible transportation of troops and goods within the remit of Germany’s NATO obligations, but has also operated since the early 1990s as the crucial support for many deployments in foreign theaters of both the Bundeswehr and many other NATO forces in crisis zones from Kosovo to Kabul. Meanwhile, national and international disasters such as earthquakes and floods have created a full range of essential deployment assignments for the CH-53G.
With the CH-53GA upgrade, the helicopter fleet will meet the Bundeswehr’s need to expand the mission capabilities of its transport helicopters for domestic missions and deployment abroad.
Maintenance Center for the majority of Bundeswehr helicopters
Eurocopter’s Military Support Center - Germany guarantees support and servicing for practically all helicopters belonging to the German Armed Forces. Besides technical and logistical support, its range of services includes maintenance, repair and overhaul, a logistics and spare parts service, training and instruction, as well as the integration of new systems and upgrades. The Center’s headquarters is Eurocopter’s facility in Donauwörth; however, employees also are positioned at several Bundeswehr locations to provide immediate on-site assistance for helicopter operations. In the past 20 years, the number of employees has risen from 26 to approximately 800. The teams work in close cooperation with the Bundeswehr, and guarantee worldwide service around the clock.
A significant milestone in Eurocopter’s Tiger support helicopter program has been reached following the delivery of the first four helicopters to be upgraded for deployment to Afghanistan. This now leaves the German Army in possession of a complete batch of ASGARD helicopters – a vital prerequisite if the Tiger is to be deployed in theater by the end of the year.
The Afghanistan Stabilization German Army Rapid Deployment (ASGARD) program of modifications for the Tiger Support Helicopter was agreed by Eurocopter and the Federal Ministry of Defence at the end of 2011 and includes a sand filter, additional defense weaponry, a mission data recorder and enhanced communications equipment for multinational missions.
“The Tiger presents the Bundeswehr with an unquestionably modern machine for its operations, with the ASGARD configuration ideally tailored to Afghanistan. However, it is equally true to say that in the long term this helicopter will do its duty in a whole range of possible combat scenarios,” explains Eurocopter President & CEO Dr. Lutz Bertling.
Since last July, a total of four aircraft newly configured for Afghanistan have been delivered to 36 Combat Helicopter Regiment in Fritzlar, which allowed preparations for deployment from the end of 2012 to start in good time. The second batch of a further four helicopters is due to be delivered from December onwards, as agreed with the Bundeswehr.
To date, Eurocopter has delivered 93 Tigers in all, including 27 UHTs to the Bundeswehr. Altogether, the helicopters in Germany, France, Spain and Australia have logged over 38,350 flight hours, while the Tigers of the French Armed Forces alone have seen over 3,750 hours of service in Afghanistan, and 250 in Libya.
Eurocopter is to lead the project defining a large-scale compound demonstrator through a multinational European program, applying the expertise gained from the company’s highly successful X3 hybrid demonstrator and its track record of helicopter innovation in integrated systems, flight controls and aerodynamics.
This new activity will be conducted in the framework of Europe’s proposed Clean Sky 2 Joint Technology Initiative (JTI), intended as an extension of the current Clean Sky JTI involving the European Commission and the European aviation industry to bring significant step changes in aviation’s environmental impact. In working towards the targets of Europe’s “Flightpath 2050” aviation vision – along with goals of the new ACARE Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda, while also meeting Europe’s broader societal challenges such as citizen mobility – the industry and the European Union would jointly invest a total of €3.6 billion over seven years on transport research in the framework of Clean Sky 2.
Eurocopter signed a Letter of Intent with 13 leading aerospace industry partners to cooperate on the Clean Sky 2 program. The agreement, concluded at the ILA Berlin Air Show with Yves Favennec, Eurocopter Vice President - Research, expresses the European industry’s commitment to align its strengths and significantly increase investment in European research and technology through Clean Sky 2. This reflects the importance of strong and continued investment and cooperation in responding appropriately to the future challenges of air traffic.
“We are especially proud to lead this compound rotorcraft effort, which intends to evaluate technologies and reduce risk before a go/no-go decision is made on the potential development of a commercial aircraft,” Favennec stated. “The activity will benefit from Eurocopter’s success with its X3 hybrid testbed, which the company fast-tracked from concept to maiden flight in 2.5 years, and it also will leverage the company’s own considerable investment made so far in the project.”
The compound rotorcraft concept would feature the combination of a fixed wing for energy efficient lift, open propellers for energy-efficient propulsion and a main rotor that provides energy-efficient VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) flight capabilities. This will enable vertical flight with the same agility as a helicopter, along with typical operational cruise speeds of 220 kts. (410 km/hr.) and reductions of up to 20-30 percent in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared with current-generation helicopters. Through the Eurocopter-led work in the Clean Sky 2 program, the future compound rotorcraft also could be optimized for the lowest environmental impact in terms of noise.
Timing for the Clean Sky 2 compound rotorcraft program calls for preliminary studies, architecture and specification activity starting in 2014, with development and testing of component and subsystems envisioned in the 2016-2018 timeframe. Flight evaluations could start in early 2019.
By combining higher cruise speeds with excellent vertical takeoff and landing performance, a future compound rotorcraft would be well-suited for such vital public service duties as emergency medical airlift, search and rescue, coast guard and border patrol operations, and it also would contribute to mobility enhancement through operations such as passenger transport, off-shore airlift and inter-city shuttle services.
As part of the overall agreement on Clean Sky 2, this effort would be incorporated in the “Horizon 2020” program, which will federate the entire chain of research, technology development and innovation efforts at the European Union level in all domains – including surface and air transport. “Horizon 2020” will be partially supported by public funding, and projects will run from 2014 until 2023.
ADAC Air Rescue has signed its latest order in a framework acquisition agreement with Eurocopter for the purchase of 14 EC145 T2 and three EC135 P2e helicopters, which are to be delivered between 2013 and 2017.
The contract concluded today at the ILA Berlin Air Show was for an EC145 T2, which is part of the renewal strategy for ADAC Air Rescue’s current BK117 inventory. Signing the accord were ADAC Managing Director Stefan Wessling and Wolfgang Schoder, Eurocopter Executive Vice President - Programs.
“We are very pleased that ADAC Air Rescue has once again chosen Eurocopter, marking a continuation of the more than 40 years in our close and successful cooperation,” Schoder said. “With the EC145 T2, ADAC Air Rescue will be operating the newest aircraft in the light twin-engine helicopter category. The EC145 T2 was developed in close consultation with air rescue organizations with the specific aim of further satisfying operators’ exacting safety and performance requirements.”
With an existing fleet of 49 helicopters, ADAC Air Rescue is one of Eurocopter’s largest European customers in the emergency medical services market segment. Its new EC145 T2 rotorcraft signed for today will be delivered next year, joining the BK117, EC135, and EC145 helicopters already in the fleet.
“ADAC’s commitments for new helicopters and their associated SAR equipment represent an investment of over 130 million euros in the future of air rescue operations in Germany,” Wessling explained. “Eurocopter is providing an aircraft with unbeatable performance characteristics to replace our BK117 helicopters over the long term.”
The EC145 T2 is the successor to Eurocopter’s proven EC145. It is equipped with two Turbomeca Arriel 2E dual-channel engines with FADEC (full authority digital engine controls) and ensures greatly improved output in the event of a possible engine failure – as required by the latest airworthiness standards. Additionally, the new helicopter version features the Eurocopter-developed Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, which offers extra safety on the ground and in the air. A four-axis autopilot and a new avionics suite provide added support for pilots, enabling them to concentrate on the more demanding aspects of each mission.
Eurocopter’s EC135 P2e being acquired by ADAC Air Rescue is an improved version of the popular EC135 twin-engine helicopter, with an increased maximum takeoff weight. Currently, there are more than 1,000 EC135s in service worldwide. These helicopters have earned their laurels as a search-and-rescue platform thanks to an outstanding safety record, low cost of ownership, and low noise levels. ADAC Air Rescue already operates 32 EC135s, which have logged a total of more than 100,000 flight hours.
The new EC135 P2e and EC145 T2 helicopters acquired by ADAC Air Rescue will be fitted with medical equipment and the communication tools needed for rescue operations. Sporting ADAC’s classic yellow livery, they will be deployed as air ambulances for transporting intensive-care patients from one hospital to another, as well as in rescue missions – using a rescue hoist when necessary.
All of the helicopters are certified for instrument flight rules (IFR) operations, including certification for night vision goggles missions during nighttime and in low-light conditions.
The “yellow angels,” as ADAC’s helicopters are sometimes called, operate from more than 35 helicopter bases across Germany. Four of them operate in collaboration with neighboring countries, creating one of Europe’s largest air rescue organizations. Rescue helicopters such as those operated by ADAC today also form an integral part of any mountain rescue service, giving them the means to rapidly repatriate injured persons from difficult-to-access places.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace and defense-related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approximately 20,000 people. In 2011, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s number one helicopter manufacturer with a turnover of 5.4 billion Euros, orders for 457 new helicopters and a 43 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors. Overall, the Group’s helicopters account for 33 percent of the worldwide civil and parapublic fleet. Eurocopter’s strong international presence is ensured by its subsidiaries and participations in 21 countries.
Eurocopter’s worldwide network of service centers, training facilities, distributors and certified agents supports some 2,900 customers. There are currently more than 11,300 Eurocopter helicopters in service in 149 countries. Eurocopter offers the most comprehensive civil and military helicopter range in the world and is fully committed to safety as the most important aspect of its business.