Airbus shows off new helicopter flying lab for tech tests

Airbus shows off new helicopter flying lab for tech tests
The H145-based PioneerLab
The H145-based PioneerLab
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The H145-based PioneerLab
The H145-based PioneerLab

At this week's German National Aviation Conference in Hamburg, Airbus Helicopters took the wraps off its PioneerLab flying helicopter laboratory based on the company's twin-engine H145 platform.

One thing that marks Airbus Helicopters' R&D efforts is its fleet of FlightLab flying laboratories for flight testing new technologies. The latest of these is the PioneerLab, which is a variant of the H145 utility helicopter that was introduced in 1999.

The latest iteration of Flightlab is focused on developing bio-based materials and technologies to make future rotorcraft greener and more efficient, as well as introducing a greater degree of autonomy.

According to Airbus, the PioneerLab will incorporate a hybrid electric propulsion system and improved aerodynamics that will reduce fuel consumption by 30%. It will also be used to test structural components made of bio-based and recycled sources that use less raw materials and energy to produce. The idea of these is to shrink the helicopter's environmental footprint over its service life.

In addition to improving the company's green cred, the PioneerLab will explore the use of advanced sensors and digital systems for greater safety and autonomy, especially during take off and landings.

Flight testing has already begun at the company's Donauwörth facility in Germany, starting with a rotor strike alert system followed by an automated take-off and landing system.

"With PioneerLab, we continue our ambitious strategy to test and mature new technologies on board our helicopter demonstrators," said Tomasz Krysinski, Head of Research and Innovation Programmes at Airbus Helicopters. "PioneerLab, which is based in Germany at our Donauwörth site, will be our platform to test technologies specifically dedicated to twin-engine helicopters."

Source: Airbus Helicopters

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