ILA: Heavy transport helicopter design comes to life

Berlin
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Eurocopter is showing a fuselage segment for a proposed Future Transport Helicopter (FTH), which it believes could meet the requirements of military users and civilian agencies responding to humanitarian disasters.

"We have finalised our preliminary design based on NATO staff targets, which we hope will soon become requirements," says Hans Weber, Eurocopter vice-president of heavy transport helicopters.

Driven by the French and German armies, the targets call for the ability to carry "as much internal cargo as possible", says German army aviation commander Brig Reinhard Wolski. The proposed aircraft has a planned 33t maximum take-off weight, including 15t in the cargo hold, or an under-slung load of 18t. Existing engine candidates include General Electric's GE38, in development for the US Marine Corps' future Sikorsky CH-53K, and the Rolls-Royce AE 1107, which powers the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor.

Manufactured from composite material, the cabin section on display weighs only 60kg (132lb), with the four crashworthy seats and cargo floor section also installed as part of the display increasing this to only 120kg.

Weber says Eurocopter believes the aircraft should use off-the-shelf technology where possible and be certificated to civil standards first, before later receiving its military-specific systems. This would follow the example of the civilian EC145, adapted for US Army use as the UH-72 Lakota.

Eurocopter and Boeing previously signed a memorandum of understanding to co-operate on the FTH initiative. "It has been beneficial for both sides," says Mark Ballew, director of rotorcraft business development for Boeing Mobility. However, he adds that it will come down to whether there is a product and a market which justifies the investment.