Airbus Helicopters has unveiled its Bluecopter, a modified H135 demonstrator designed to validate a number of new components and features to make its helicopters quieter and more fuel efficient with reduced environmental emissions.
The Bluecopter made its public debut at Airbus Helicopters’ Donauwörth, Germany, facility on July 7 where it performed a handling display, but had been flying since April and has logged more than 28 flight test hours.
The Bluecopter features a bearingless five-bladed main rotor system with BlueEdge curved blade tips, a modified aft section and empennage, a newly-designed Fenestron tail rotor with a T-tail horizontal stabiliser and drag-reducing fairings around the main rotor hub and skids.
Airbus Helicopters said the Bluecopter has so far achieved a 40 per cent decrease in fuel consumption, significantly reducing CO2 emissions, and recorded an effective perceived noise profile approximately 10 decibels lower than ICAO’s noise certification limits.
Some less visible features of the Bluecopter, including its water-based paint scheme, have also helped Airbus Helicopters achieve its “greener” goals. An acoustic liner, integrated in the Fenestron’s shroud and an active rudder on the tail fin combine to help reduce noise. A new “eco-mode”, an engine power management system that operates one engine at its lowest possible level while still compatible with safety, and the other running at a higher speed, results in a power setting combination that is said to be more fuel efficient than having two engines operating at a medium speed during phases of flight where full power is not required.
A short-term “skunk works” project for Airbus Helicopters, the Bluecopter’s development has been largely self-funded with several technologies used on the demonstrator developed in the framework of Europe’s Clean Sky joint technology initiative and Germany’s LuFo-IV research program.