The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has placed an order for three H135 helicopters, marking the first-ever partnership between the US space programme and Airbus Helicopters. The H135s will be operated out of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a variety of missions, including rocket launches, security, emergency medical services and passenger transport. Two of the helicopters are scheduled for delivery later this summer, with a third planned for early 2021.
“NASA chose the H135 because Airbus was able to meet all the NASA mission requirements which include personnel movements, airborne law enforcement roles, aerial firefighting, weapons training and overwater operations,” says Dave Ramsey, NASA's chief of flight operations at the Kennedy Space Center. “The H135 provides a modernised airframe that performs well in the Florida environment and will serve to protect NASA assets and personnel for years to come.”
As part of a fleet replacement initiative, NASA will acquire the aircraft through Davenport Aviation, an SBA-certified woman-owned small business and HUBZone contractor specialising in the supply of aerospace equipment to federal, state and local government agencies.
“These new helicopters will help support NASA and the men and women who advance space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research,” explains Romain Trapp, president of Airbus Helicopters Inc. and head of the North America region. “We look forward to partnering with NASA to provide it with the best products and services to complete its important mission.”
Globally, the H135 operates in more than 60 countries and has flown more than five million flight hours.