Eurocopter, the rotary division of EADS, is here at the Dubai Air Show in what will be its last trade exhibition appearance before being rebranded as Airbus Helicopter.
The company is introducing an executive variant of its EC175 twin-engine helicopter and is also demonstrating its enhanced EC145 T2. While the former will remain on the static display for the duration, the latter will fly daily.
The EC175, launched in 2008, appears here in its executive configuration for the first time. Although suited to the oil and gas industries - the aircraft has jettisonable doors and is expected to achieve a Sea Stage 6 rating - the platform was envisioned as widely customizable, and VIP transportation is an obvious application. European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) certification, which had been expected before the end of this year, is now not expected until 2014.
Two high-spec versions have been announced - the executive, which seats between nine and 12 passengers, and an even more deluxe VIP iteration, which seats six to eight passengers. Both the VIP and executive editions have had the cabin extensively redesigned, with the intention being to make the interior feel less like an aircraft than a yacht or a home.
The intermediate-range EC145 is a similarly versatile platform, and has been in service for nearly 15 years. Over 500 aircraft have been delivered to customers including the French Securite Civile and Gendarmerie, and the German Landespolizei, while the US Army ordered 315 copies of a variant which it designated UH-72 Lakota.
Eurocopter introduced the T2 upgrade in 2011, and began working on an optionally piloted version of the aircraft around the same time. The T2 features Arriel 2E engines, the Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, upgraded main and tail rotor gear boxes, and a digital avionics suite with 4-axis autopilot. As with the EC175, EASA certification is not expected until next year.