UK defense technology company QinetiQ has signed a deal for four Airbus H125 helicopters as part of its modernisation of the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS). This famous test pilot school is managed in cooperation with the UK’s ministry of Defence. The helos are expected to enter service in early 2019.
Tthe deal is worth 15 million GBP and will see Airbus Helicopters’ UK design team upgrade the H125s with a 3-axis autopilot, dedicated communications equipment and Traffic Awareness Systems among other capabilities,. This is in addition to a Flight Test Instrumentation suite, which is used to test and evaluate aircraft design and performance – a critical part of a test pilot or flight test engineer’s training.
QinetiQ and UK MoD are investing 85 million GBP in ETPS under a strategy to modernise the UK’s Test Aircrew Training capability. Assembling a fleet that provides the very best value and performance is vital to this strategy, according to QinetiQ.
India’s Heritage Aviation two H125 (fka AS350 Ecureuil) helicopters acquired for charter and utility missions on 15 April 2015 are almost ready to go to their new homeland. The first H125 will arrive in India by the end of the month, followed by the second in early May. The choppers will have a special focus on pilgrimage heli-tours.
Heritage Aviation has been operating at pilgrimage sites in India with leased aircraft in the past. After operating various types of single-engine helicopters for the past seven years, Heritage Aviation selected the H125 to be part of its permanent fleet.
“Based on feedback of our pilots and customers, the H125 has been one of the most popular aircraft especially for visits to temples on high grounds,” said Rohit Mathur, CEO of Heritage Aviation. “Passengers find the flights stable, assuring and comfortable; while pilots like the ease of flying it at high altitudes and in hilly areas.”
Pilgrim tourism in India has seen an increasing number of people opting for the safer and more convenient option of helicopter travel over road transport and trekking. The H125 has been frequently used to fly tourists to places such as Kedarnath and Badrinath. It is also being used extensively for passenger transport at Amarnath and Vaishno Devi shrines in the States of Jammu & Kashmir.
Source: Airbus Helicopters
Featured image: The first of two H125s for India’s Heritage Aviation (Image © Eric Raz / Airbus Helicopters)[/caption]