With its presence at this year’s Farnborough Air Show (Booth No. G15 in Hall 4), Eurocopter focuses on the UK military market with its requirements for SAR and medium helicopter capabilities by displaying mock-ups of the EC725 and the NH90. Eurocopter helicopters account for 75 per cent of the existing UK and Ireland police air support market. In the military field, Eurocopter and its British partner company, FB Heliservices Ltd., provide Ministry of Defence helicopter pilot training under a COMR (Civil Owned, Military Registered) arrangement. Furthermore, the manufacturer was awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence an Assessment Phase contract for the Life Extension Programme for the RAF’s fleet of Puma helicopters in June 2007, which is managed by a Eurocopter/MoD Joint Project Office (JPO) based in Bristol.
Eurocopter creates Eurocopter UK Ltd.
Through its fully-owned subsidiary, Eurocopter UK Ltd., headquartered in Oxford and with additional bases in Dublin (Ireland), Belfast (Northern Ireland), Hawarden (Wales), and the JPO in Bristol, the company now has a strong industrial footprint in the UK and enjoys a reputation for innovation, high quality and a strong customer support ethos. Eurocopter UK was established in November 2007 through the purchase of McAlpine Helicopters Ltd., the company’s long-standing distributor in the UK. Looking back at over 30 years of experience with Eurocopter products, Eurocopter UK has achieved an exemplary performance in the distribution and support of Eurocopter products, with well over 200 helicopters sold. This success is attributable to the highly skilled workforce, its capacity to design, install, flight test and certify modifications tailored to the market requirements, and to deliver first-class support for a very sizeable helicopter fleet – including training, spares provision, storage and management.
Eurocopter leads Police Air Support in the UK and Ireland
With its modern product line, Eurocopter has responded to the increasing security requirements in the British Isles and around the world by adapting its light twin-engined helicopter family very specifically to meet the demands of homeland security operators. The company is the world’s leading helicopter supplier in this field. In the UK and Ireland, various twin-engined Eurocopter models have gone into Police Air Support and EMS operations over the past 25 years, originally the BO105, BK117 and AS355 and, more recently, the EC135 and the EC145. The EC135 is the reference helicopter for police surveillance throughout the British Isles. The London Metropolitan Police is the first UK Police Air Support Unit to operate the EC145, thereby owning the most advanced multi-role aircraft of any UK Police Force. This modern platform is designed with total multi-mission capability in mind and is capable of carrying one or two pilots and eight or nine passengers.
The EC145 is a top performer in police and homeland security missions. It is now under delivery to the U.S. Army as its new-generation Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).
Eurocopter is Key Partner in Military Helicopter Pilot Training in the UK
FB Heliservices Limited, headquartered in Basingstoke in the United Kingdom, operates 38 Eurocopter AS350 BB ‘Squirrel’ helicopters for the UK Ministry of Defence’s Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) which is now in its 11th year of service.
The helicopters are provided to the Ministry of Defence DHFS as a turn-key training system where to a significant extent civilian instructors train all the UK Ministry of Defence’s intake of helicopter pilots. Twenty-six helicopters are shared between the Central Flying School (CFS) and the basic training squadrons at RAF Shawbury. The CFS helicopters are used to train instructors and aircrewmen. Instructors and the basic training machines provide ab-initio training for student helicopter pilots. Six of the AS350 BBs are fitted with hoists and floats to enable overwater hoist training. The remaining twelve helicopters, all fitted with NVG cockpits, are located at the Army’s Middle Wallop airfield in Wiltshire where they are used for the advanced and tactical phases of the training of Army pilots.
Eurocopter implements RAF Puma Upgrade Assessment Phase
Under contract to the UK Ministry of Defence, Eurocopter is carrying out the assessment phase for the life extension programme for the RAF’s fleet of Puma helicopters with the aim of enhancing the British Armed Forces’ much-needed medium-lift capability. It is managed by a Eurocopter/Ministry of Defence Joint Project Office, in operation in Bristol since August 20, 2007. The programme will be based on comprehensive upgrades, including new Turbomeca Makila engines, glass cockpits, and new communications, navigation and defensive systems for 30 of the RAF’s Pumas.
The new Pumas, which will be designated Puma HC Mk2, will consequently be capable of remaining in service until at least 2022. Their performance and payload will be significantly enhanced, particularly in hot and high conditions. The Assessment Phase, scheduled to complete early next year, will consider the detailed technical, operational and cost implications of the upgrade and will lead, upon successful completion, to a full development and manufacture contract for delivery of the main programme. As the backbone of the RAF’s fleet of medium-lift helicopters, Pumas continue to play a vital role in the UK’s operational theatres.
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