Airbus Helicopters has unveiled PioneerLab, its new twin-engine technology demonstrator based on the H145 platform. It complements Airbus’ FlightLabs portfolio and focuses on testing technologies that reduce helicopter emissions, increase autonomy and integrate bio-based materials. PioneerLab is targeting fuel consumption gains of 30% compared to the classic H145.
A technology demonstrator based on the H145 platform
At the German National Aviation Conference held in Hamburg, Airbus Helicopters unveiled the PioneerLab, its new twin-engine technology demonstrator based on the H145 platform. It complements Airbus’ FlightLabs portfolio and focuses on testing technologies that reduce helicopter emissions, increase autonomy and integrate bio-based materials.
30% consumption savings targeted compared to a classic H145
“With the PioneerLab, we are continuing our ambitious strategy to test and mature new technologies on board our helicopter demonstrators,” said Tomasz Krysinski, Head of Research and Innovation Programs at Airbus Helicopters. “The PioneerLab, based in Germany at our Donauwörth site, will be our platform for testing technologies specifically dedicated to twin-engine helicopters.” The PioneerLab aims to demonstrate a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 30% compared to a conventional H145, thanks to a hybrid-electric propulsion system and aerodynamic improvements.
Biosourced and recycled materials
On board the demonstrator, Airbus Helicopters will also flight test structural components made from bio-sourced and recycled materials, which aim to reduce the environmental footprint over the entire life cycle of the aircraft. The company intends to produce the new parts using processes that reduce material and energy consumption and improve recyclability. Further research activities will focus on integrating the latest digital technologies into the aircraft’s flight control system and associated sensors, to increase autonomy and safety during critical flight phases such as takeoff and landing.
A warning system in the event of a collision with the rotor
PioneerLab is partially co-funded by BMWK, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, through its national research program LuFo. Airbus Helicopters FlightLabs (PioneerLab having been preceded by Flightlab and DisruptiveLab) is part of the company’s strategy to provide incremental innovations to improve its current products and to mature the technology for future platforms. The PioneerLab flight campaign has already started at the manufacturer’s largest German site, in Donauwörth, with a warning system in the event of a collision with the rotor, the first technological brick tested on board the demonstrator. The next phase will involve testing an automated takeoff and landing system.