Early last month, an AS350 B3e Ecureuil operated by Airbus Helicopters Southeast Asia (AHSA) played an important role in a technology demonstration led by Airbus Group’s Defence and Space division that may one day see tourists traveling to space.
The project, known as the SpacePlane, aims to take passengers on short trips above the atmosphere in a jet designed to take off from a standard runway and then rocket to heights of around 100 kilometers thanks to a methane-oxygen engine.
The demonstrator tests, conducted off the coast of Singapore, were carried out to help understand how the aircraft would perform during the end-of-flight phase following a return from space.
To do this, the quarter-scale demonstrator needed to be dropped from an altitude of 10,000 feet (approximately 3,000 meters or nearly two miles). Airbus Group decided to perform this feat with a helicopter and the design expertise of AHSA.
AHSA’s design office conceived, produced and then tested the platform used to raise the SpacePlane from a barge located in the South China Sea. In addition, AHSA developed, planned and conducted the helicopter operations necessary to lift and carry the plane to the desired altitude before releasing it.
The novel lifting and separation system designed by AHSA enabled the scaled model to be carried as a helicopter under-slung load and released upon command from a control panel in the helicopter cabin.
An AHSA pilot performed the actual maneuver flying an AS350 B3e and supported by a dedicated AHSA test team stationed both on the barge and in the helicopter.
The flight test campaign lasted approximately 12 flying hours and culminated in the successful drop. Feedback from the test will be used to advance the design process to the next pre-development phase.
The demonstrator used in the tests was built by Airbus Defence and Space, in partnership with HOPE Technik and Airbus Group Innovations, the corporate network of research centers of Airbus Group.
- Heli-Alps Purchases new Bell 505
- Boost Systems Dual Hook Systems and Personnel Carrying Devise approved for B407 and AS350/355
- Lawsuit filed over 2016 AS350 accident in Antarctica
- 01-Jan-18 ZS-??? Airbus AS350B3 Cathedral Peak, South Africa
- FAA certified retrofittable Crash-Resistant Fuel Tank for AS350 and EC130
- ASU Obtains NVIS Transport Canada STC on AS350
- FB Heliservices begin DHFS AS350 fleet disposal
- Honeywell Certified To Bring Wi-Fi To Helicopters
- Vector takes AS350 crash resistant fuel system to AMTC 2017
- Heli-One Norway Adds Airbus AS350 Blade Repair Capability
- FAA approves AS350 Maximum Pilot View Kit from Swiss Rotor Solutions
- 20-Aug-17 OE-XTM Airbus AS350B3 Cabril, Portugal (1F)
- AeroBrigham to represent Swiss Rotor Solutions in US
- Robertson testing AS350 crash resistant fuel tank
- Swiss Rotor Solutions takes AS350 Maximum Pilot View Kit to ALEA 2017
- 22-May-17 N207CH Airbus AS350B2 Herbert Glacier, US-Alaska
- 13-May-17 HB-ZTM Airbus AS350B2 Kandersteg, Switzerland (1F)
- H125 FastFin Approved by Transport Canada
- 10-May-17 G-HKCN Airbus H125 Bergen, Norway
- Swedish pilots involved in helicopter accident