The EC135 T2+ twin-engine military training helicopter made its first flight in January 2015. Image: courtesy of Airbus Helicopters, Charles Abarr.
The EC135 T2+ training helicopter will be equipped with Thales' Reality H FFS mission-orientated training simulators. Image: courtesy of Thales Group.
The EC135 T2+ military training helicopters are intended for the Australian Defence Force's Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) programme. Image: courtesy of Boeing Defence Australia.

Airbus Helicopters is developing the EC135 T2+ light, twin-engine, rotary-wing military training helicopter for the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) new Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) programme.

Airbus Helicopters will deliver 15 EC135 T2+ military training helicopters to the Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy. The helicopters are designed to meet the training, technical and safety requirements of the future combat helicopter aircrew of the army and navy.

Maiden flight of the first EC135 T2+ military training helicopter took place at Airbus Helicopters’ production site in Donauwörth, Germany, in January 2015.

EC135T2+ is the latest variant of the EC135 multi-mission helicopter. The law enforcement-configured EC135T2+ helicopters are operational with the Massachusetts State Police and the National Police Air Service (NPAS) of West Yorkshire, UK.

Details of the HATS programme

The MRH90 helicopter is the Australian version of the 10t class NH90 multirole helicopter.

The JP 9000 Phase 7 HATS programme is a joint training scheme for the helicopter aircrew of Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy. Initial operating capability (IOC) of the project is scheduled for late-2018. The programme will also utilise a new flight-deck equipped, sea-going training vessel, and EC135 flight simulators.

The Australian Government approved the acquisition of EC135T2+ helicopters for the ADF in November 2014. Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) is the prime contractor for the HATS programme, while Thales Australia will provide three full-motion Reality H Full Flight Simulators (FFS) and associated equipment.

The EC135T2+ helicopters are expected to replace the Army’s Bell Helicopter 206 and the Navy’s AS350 helicopters.

EC135T2+ training helicopter design and features

The EC135T2+ training helicopter is equipped with four bearing-less main rotor blades, ten fenestron tail rotor blades, and a skid-type landing gear. It has increased manoeuvrability and performance capabilities.

The main and tail rotor diameters are 10.2m and 1m, respectively. The 5.87m-long, 1.56m-wide and 3.35m-high fuselage features metal-composite structure. Maximum operating mass of the EC135T2+ is 2,910kg and the maximum cargo weight is 1,130kg.

One pilot and one co-pilot are accommodated in the helicopter, as well as up to seven passengers. It can be additionally fitted with a wire-strike protection system, single-blade windshield wiper system, anti-collision light for vertical fin, and Apical emergency floats systems with raft.

A range of additional mission equipment can be installed, allowing the helicopter to perform various other missions.

Cockpit and avionics

The digital, glass cockpit offers high-visibility for the operators, while the Thales Meghas avionics suite reduces pilot’s workload.

The avionics suite includes GMX-200 multi-functional display, dual flight controls, autopilot, digital automatic flight control system (DAFCS), KR21 marker beacon, RDR 2000 weather radar, and TFM500/G FM transceiver, as well as C406-2HM emergency locator transmitter, KTA-810 traffic awareness unit, GTX330 Mode S digital transponder, and KRA 405B radar altimeter.

"Airbus Helicopters will deliver 15 EC135 T2+ military training helicopters to the Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy."

It also features a CDM-451 DME transceiver, GNS530 and GNS430 navigation and communications systems, centre console, slant panel, co-pilot pitot / static system, attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) free steering mode (FSM), and an air data system.

Thales’ Reality H FFS modular, mission-orientated training system consists of a reliable instructor control, high-accuracy motion system, and a powerful image generation system. It provides pilots with high-quality training services and improved operational efficiency.

EC135T2+ helicopter engine and performance

Power for the EC135T2+ training helicopter comes from two Turbomeca Arrius 2B2 turboshaft engines and has a fuel capacity of 680l. The standard single channel, FADEC-equipped engine has an output power-generating capacity of 450kW and is rated at 6,000rpm. It is connected with a reduction gearbox and a gas generator module.

The helicopter can reach an air speed of 155kt and a maximum operating pressure altitude of 20,000ft. It has a flight endurance of two and half hours with reserves.