Eurocopter HTH


Eurocopter’s hopes of producing a new heavy transport helicopter (HTH) with a maximum take-off weight of 36t have been boosted by the release of a joint request for information from the French and German defence minstries. Flight International has meanwhile obtained new information on the proposed three-engine design, which Eurocopter says will be capable of carrying up to 66 combat-equipped troops or a payload of up to 13t – 3,000kg (6,610lb) higher than previously stated.

First details of the HTH concept emerged at the Berlin air show almost two years ago, when Eurocopter also voiced an aspiration to develop the helicopter in collaboration with a US company (Flight International, 18-24 May 2004). The aircraft is intended as a replacement for Germany’s Sikorsky CH-53 Super Stallion transports.

To be manufactured in Germany, the composite-fuselage HTH has a seven-blade main rotor and fly-by-wire – or fly-by-light – flight controls. The current configuration is an aircraft with cargo box dimensions up to 2.75m (9ft) high, 3.1m wide and 9.1m long, enabling it to carry a variety of ground vehicles, including the German army’s 4,500kg Wiesel 2 scout car and France’s 13,000kg VAB armoured vehicle. Eurocopter expects the new design to have a service life of more than 30 years, or 15,000 flight hours, and to have a mission reliability rate of 97.5%. Company material indicates an estimated production run of up to 200 aircraft.

Eurocopter wants to pursue the project in partnership, with chief executive Fabrice Brégier noting that the EADS subsidiary “can even conceive of transatlantic co-operation”. Brégier adds that the company will make a final decision on whether to proceed with the HTH project “towards 2010, for it to be operational by 2020”. This represents a significant slip from Eurocopter’s original estimates, which identified a potential entry into service for the new aircraft type by 2012.

The manufacturer is currently seeking expressions of interest from firms capable of building the HTH airframe’s monolithic carbonfibre frames, beams and longerons or its carbonfibre and hybrid Nomex skins and bulkheads. “Eurocopter is looking for outsourcing opportunities in the field of composite structures for helicopters,” it says.

Flight International