Airbus says new helicopter offers upset recovery at touch of a button

Airbus H160 Helicopter, Image: © Airbus | Thierry Rostang

Airbus’ H160 twin turbo helicopter, designed to carry up to 12 passengers, offers safety features such as auto recovery from inverted flight, according to a report in US online publication Wired.

The manufacturer recently demonstrated the aircraft in New Jersey as part of a US sales tour. The H160 is scheduled to go into service next year and boasts safety features such as push-button inversion recovery and an advanced autopilot.

Test pilot Olivier Gensse told Wired, ‘When you have margin, or the capability of manoeuvring out of trouble, that makes you comfortable because you’re able to use the aircraft to its fullest.’

‘Previously we’d have a given helicopter and a pilot, with a lot of training required to mix them. So, you’d need a high level of training to get out of a critical situation. Now, though, we try to build the aircraft to be very easy. If it’s easy, it will be safer.’

Gensse also argues that features such as the scimitar shape of the main rotor—which means that the rotor tips cut through wake vortices thus reducing ground noise—contributes to passenger comfort and therefore to safety.

The H160 also features an enclosed tail rotor angled 10 degrees to the ground, which contributes to lift and counters the tendency to rotate beneath the main rotor disk. According to the Wired article, this is the first time such a design has been used on a civilian helicopter.