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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Three International 'Firsts' for Eurocopter Sales

Manufacturer delivers to operators in Japan, the UK and Bangladesh (not forgetting Nepal).

By Andrew Drweiga, International Bureau Chief/Consultant

The acquisition by Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) of an AS365 N3 "equipped with a high-speed, real-time transmission system using Earth-orbiting satellites" is a world first, according to Eurocopter.

The Helicopter Satellite Communication System (HSA) uses satellites to relay real-time video and data to ground receiving stations. The system, developed by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, will allow the HSA-equipped helicopter to help the FDMA maintain video and data flow during emergencies, especially when ground networks have been interrupted in disaster type scenarios. It also provides for two-way voice and data transmission. A benefit is that ground stations can also control the onboard camera.

 

AS365 N3 equipped with HSA. Photos courtesy Eurocopter

 

The satcom system uses burst modem synchronization for uninterrupted bust transmission through the rotor blades. The unit comprises a 40-cm parabolic autotracking antenna weighing around 21 kg (46 lbs). A conical scan keeps connectivity in spite of the helicopter’s maneuvers.

Eurocopter Japan completed the HSA retrofit, also handling approvals with Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau. The FDMA customer is part of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

Stephane Ginoux, president & CEO of Eurocopter Japan said that following this “first” installation, the company would now “be offering such capability to customers in other countries.”

The second first is the purchase of an AS350B3e by Loxwood Holdings, an organization with interests in strategic risk management and security in the United Kingdom. The company is the first UK owner of an AS350 B3e, the latest version of the Ecureuil range.

 

AS350 B3e in the UK.

 

Christopher Holland, Loxwood’s CEO, said of the decision: “Having owned other new helicopters before, but never a Eurocopter product, I did a lot of personal research and benchmarking before contacting Eurocopter UK at Oxford.” He continued that he was “delighted with the whole experience,” adding that the availability of local support from Eurocopter’s Oxford base was “quite unique” compared to previous experiences. Markus Steinke, managing director of Eurocopter UK Ltd., said that the manufacturer is “very proud” to add Loxwood to the “Eurocopter family in the UK.”

Finally, Bangladeshi company R&R Aviation (part of the Sikder Group) took delivery of the first two Eurocopter civil helicopters for service in the country. The pair of EC130 B4s will be used for emergency medical services (EMS) operations and humanitarian support.

 

EC130 B4. Photo by Anthony Pecchi/courtesy of Eurocopter

 

Said Rick Haque Sikder, chairman of R&R Aviation: “This high-performance aircraft will enable us to develop our commercial and medical services for the people of Bangladesh,” adding that the company hopes the agreement signals “the beginning of a long-term partnership between R&R Aviation and Eurocopter, with more helicopters to come.”

Eurocopter also recently demonstrated its AS350 B3e in Dhaka to prospective operators. The aircraft was in the process of being delivered to Shree Airlines in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Brig. Gen. Abdullah Al Azhar, commander of the ad hoc army aviation group, who is also qualified on the AS365 N3+ Dauphin, said after his flight demonstration that “the rate of climb and maneuverability of the AS350 B3e was impressive, surpassing our expectations of a single-engine aircraft.”

Eurocopter South East Asia President Eric Toussaint noted “a promising future for the demand and deployment of helicopters in both the civil and governmental markets in Bangladesh.”

Related: Airframe News

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