All Nippon Helicopter's (ANH) H160 has performed its first flight test, a 95-minute trip at the Marseille Provence airport. This successful maiden flight paves the way for the aircraft's entry into service in Japan. ANH deploys a helicopter fleet comprising six AS365s and five H135s for electronic news gathering for TV stations across Japan. This H160 will replace one of its AS365s.
“We are delighted to see the successful inaugural flight of Japan's very first H160, and we are looking forward to this next-generation helicopter playing an important role in our nationwide missions,” says Jun Yanagawa, president of ANH. “Since the introduction of the AS365 helicopter three decades ago, the requirements of the electronic news gathering market are constantly evolving and have significantly improved. This H160 is a timely welcome for our operations.”
The H160 was granted its type certificate by EASA in July 2020, with certification from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) expected in early 2021. Upon delivery of the helicopter, specialised equipment installation and customisation will be performed at Airbus Helicopters' Kobe facility, before its entry into service.
“We are honoured to have ANH as our H160 launch customer in Japan, as it renews its fleet. This successful first flight is particularly meaningful during this unprecedented time for the industry. We thank our customer and the teams involved for devoting maximum efforts into this achievement. We will continue to provide our utmost support and ensure a smooth delivery to ANH,” states Guillaume Leprince, MD of Airbus Helicopters in Japan.
Japan's electronic news gathering market is a mature market with 87 helicopters dedicated for such missions today. Close to 70 per cent of these helicopters are manufactured by Airbus, with the H125, AS365, H135 and H155 platforms commonly used by the operators. With the imminent introduction of the H160, which is equipped with additional safety features from the Helionix avionics suite's accrued pilot assistance, this helicopter will bring added leverage to the operator.
Designed as a multi-role helicopter capable of performing a wide range of missions such as offshore transportation, emergency medical services, private and business aviation, as well as public services, the H160 integrates Airbus' latest technological innovations. The helicopter provides passengers with superior comfort thanks to the sound-reducing Blue Edge blades and very good external visibility.