Following some of the recent interest generated by the Airbus EC145 Mercedes-Benz Style Helicopter and Airbus H160 medium-sized helicopter—the French aircraft manufacturer plans to spend two years consulting with customers and developing the details of the all-new, next-generation Airbus X6 heavy helicopter. It is designed to be robust enough for hardworking missions like serving oil rigs, while versatile enough to satisfy VIP fliers. The company says the twin-engine X6 will set new standards in the industry for design innovation and will deliver maximum efficiency both in production and in operations. The design will be the first Airbus commercial helicopter to feature fly-by-wire flight controls. Also on the drawing board is full de-icing capability for winter operations, five-blade rotors, and a roomy cabin that can seat up to 19 passengers.
The company is aiming for the X6 to be smooth, comfortable, quiet, and fuel-efficient, Airbus officials explained when they introduced the design at the Paris Air Show in June. CEO Guillaume Faury said customers are looking for aircraft that are safe and have longer ranges, and he expects the X6 will satisfy those needs. The first flight of the X6 is expected in about five years, with deliveries to start sometime around 2022. (airbushelicopters.com)