With its strong presence at this year’s DSEi (Booth No. 1177 in South Hall), Eurocopter highlights its commitment to the UK governmental helicopter market. Eurocopter helicopters account for 74 per cent of the existing UK and Ireland police air support market, with the company’s EC135 accounting for 57 per cent of the helicopters deployed in this role. The larger EC145 is a complementary helicopter platform to the EC135, adding a new dimension in terms of multi-role capability and lift capacity required in view of the new climate of extra vigilance against terrorism. In the military field, Eurocopter and its British partner company, FB Heliservices Ltd., provide Ministry of Defence helicopter pilot training under a COMR (Commercially Owned, Military Registered) arrangement. Furthermore, the manufacturer has been awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence an Assessment Phase contract for the Life Extension Programme for the RAF’s fleet of Puma Mk1 helicopters in June 2007, to be managed by a Eurocopter/MoD Joint Project Office already operational in Bristol.
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, AS355 and BK117 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. With a fast cruise speed of 135 kts, an advanced night vision goggle compatible glass cockpit, digital autopilot for both single or dual pilot applications and an endurance of up to 3.5 hours, the EC145 is a top performer in police and homeland security missions. It has also been ordered by 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 tenth year of service. Coinciding with the DHFS’s 10th anniversary on May 3, 2007, the AS350 BB fleet had clocked up a total of 250,000 flight hours.
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 Mk1 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, already 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 up to 35 of the RAF’s Pumas.
The Assessment Phase, scheduled for a period of one 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.
The new Pumas, which will be designated Puma HC Mk2, will consequently be capable of remaining in service until around 2022. Their performance and payload will be significantly enhanced, particularly in hot and high conditions. As the backbone of the RAF’s fleet of medium-lift helicopters, the Pumas will continue to play a vital role in operational theatres such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
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