Civil Helicopters Market Intelligence

Helicopter Spotlight: Airbus H175

Helicopter Spotlight: Airbus H175

Looking through all of the available LEGO Technic sets available on the company’s website is a wet dream for any man-child. Amongst the bulldozers, snow groomers and tractors are some of the most wellknown cars ever built. There’s a Ferrari 488 GTE, a Porsche 911 RSR, Ford GT, Lamborghini Sián FKP 37 and even the Batmobile available to buy and build. Next to the Batmobile, amongst all of the 39 cars and vehicles that regularly appear as posters on teenage boy’s bedroom walls is a lone, solitary helicopter. Unlike the anonymous snow groomer and all terrain vehicle, this helicopter has a name. It is the Airbus Helicopters H175.

The release of the 2001-piece set in 2022, could be viewed as how successful the H175 has been, and how much it has permeated the public’s sub-conscience. It is immediately recognizable thanks to the roles it serves; it is used as a Emergency Medical Service (EMS) helicopter, a police patrol helicopter, a search and rescue helicopter and a oil and gas transportation helicopter. The chances are that if you live in a large urban area, then you would have seen an H175 flying over you at some point performing a public duty mission. The non-LEGO H175 was originally announced as the Eurocopter EC175 in October 2008, however the helicopter can trace its routes back even further to 2005, when Eurocopter announced that it had been approached by China’s AVIC which was looking for partners to help it design a medium-heavy helicopter for the local market. With a cooperation agreement signed between the two companies in December 2005, the design team set to work setting up a customer advisory team comprised of existing helicopter operators.

This approach, of talking to the helicopter’s potential operators to help define its specifications paid immediate dividends, as when the aircraft was officially launched, Eurocopter also announced that it had already received 111 purchase options from 13 different operators.

The helicopter they jointly came up with is renowned for being able to fly long distances at speed, whilst carrying a large payload. The H175 can fly up to 600nm at up to 155 kts, and can carry up to 18 passengers.

The official first flight took place in mid-December 2009 at the Airbus Helicopters production facility is Marignane, France, with the helicopter finally entering service in December 2014 following a twoyear delay which was, at least in part, due to a certification issue with the Helionix Avionics Suite.

The first helicopters were delivered to Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen (NHV) a Belgium-based company that specializes in offshore oil and gas operations. By August of the following year, NHV announced that it had already undertaken 750 flights with its first two H175s, carrying more than 11,000 passengers. Even more impressive was that the helicopters’ dispatch rate had been above 90%, which for a new helicopter type was almost unheard of.

Several months following the type’s introduction by NHV, the Bristow Group placed an order for 17 H175s, which it later followed up with by ordering a further five examples which would have made it the largest operator of the type. Unfortunately, Bristow entered into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection before the first aircraft could be delivered, and the order was cancelled.

Despite this seeming setback, the Bristow order did wonders for the reputation of the type. As one of the most well known and respected helicopters in the world, the fact that Bristow originally put its faith behind the helicopter helped open further doors to more orders.

One of those orders came from Milestone Aviation Group. It already had a handful of H175s on order before Bristow announced its acquisition, however by July 2015 it had increased the number of helicopters it had on order to 28.

Although orders were plentiful for the H175, the Chinese version struggled in many different ways. Officially designated the AC352, the first Chinese built example finally took to the skies for the first time in December 2016, almost seven years after the H175. This came following an announcement in April 2014 that the companies would build the helicopters on two production lines – one in France and one in China. The agreement states that 1,000 helicopters will be built over a 20-year time frame.

Since its introduction the H175 has been upgraded several times, the most notable being its certification for single pilot operations under visual flight rules (VFR).”

By early 2023 there were just over 50 H175s in service worldwide. Operators include The Royal Thai Police, CHC Helicopters, Heli Holland and Hong Kong’s Government Flying Service. But Airbus Helicopters is hoping that more operators will soon follow, both inside and outside of China.

If you want one of the LEGO Technic H175 sets then you can part with a whopping USD$209.99 on the company’s website. The real H175 costs considerably more, so it’s probably best to get in touch with Airbus Helicopters directly if you want one.


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