The H125 is a single engine “Light” helicopter. It is marketed globally as the Écureuil (or Squirrel) but as the “ASTAR” in North America.
As the latest model in the AS350 family it is in the “top 10” of the world’s most produced helicopters. The type holds the record for highest altitude landing and take-off for any aircraft (29,029 feet) - performed on Mount Everest in 2005.
The H125 is currently operated in 69 different countries with 520 operators.
History and Development
The AS350 was developed in the early 1970s as a civilian-focused replacement for the military Alouette and Gazelle helicopters.
The H125 is the latest model in the AS350 family. The power plant is a single Safran HE Arriel 2D engine with dual channel digital engine control system (FADEC) providing a MTOW of 2,800kg.
The avionics include an integrated primary flying and navigation display (PFD / ND) together with a vehicle and engine multi-function display (VEMD). There is also now an option to install a Garmin G500 TXi touchscreen MFD with higher resolution and better graphical performance.
The H125 has seen many incidents and accidents in its long history. Most of these being categorised in the Loss of control (LOC) or Controlled flight into Terrain (CFIT) categories.
As helicopters in this category are not required to carry cockpit voice recorders or flight data recorders many of the incidents and accidents cannot be investigated to the same level as aircraft with these recorders. Therefore, many get categorized as reason unknown or with several scenarios possible.
The H125 future will be in its existing roles - utility, VIP, EMS and public service.
H125 production facility continues in Marseille, France and now also in Columbus Mississippi, USA (where a new production line opened in 2015).
Utility is the most important market for the H125 and accounts for around 50% of the usage for theH125 fleet. This. The ability to carry up to six passengers and an external load capacity of 1,400Kg makes the aircraft a very popular choice in the light single utility market.
VIP / Private
Around 20% of the H125fleet is operated in the VIP/ private aviation areas. Its relatively small purchase and operating costs make it popular with private owners. The “Starflex”main rotor system provide a reasonably smooth ride and the glass touch screen cockpit instrument panel creates a modern impression.
Airbus markets VIP helicopters through Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) which offer a more tailored product to customers than the standard commercial model.
Around 12% of the H125fleet are engaged in public services operations around the world, in particular law enforcement.
Around 6% of the H125fleet are engaged in EMS contracts around the world. The H125 has been used widely in the past for EMS but is now losing ground to the light twin helicopters which offer a larger cabin space for enhanced patient care together with the additional safety margin provided by a second engine.
Costs and Values
H125 Operating costs are reported to be comparable with other helicopters in the light single category.
The rental price for a H125is in the range of US$ 18K to US$ 22K per month.
The primary maintenance events on the H125 are as follows:
· 150 hrs and or12 months
· 600hrs and or 24months
· 1200 hrs and or48 months
· AdditionalCalendar Inspections at 6yrs and 12 yrs.
Engine inspections at 800hrs and 1200 hrs.
The engine overhaul interval for the Arriel 2D is 5,000 hours.
Power by the hour products
Airframe: Airbus Helicopters offers the HCare product for full airframe support.
The HCare support can be modified to cover a defined list of components.
Engines: Safran offer the following products:
· SBH Classic
· SBH 5 Star(same coverage as classic program but with additional support available for new customers to the product or small operators)
TheAirbus Helicopters home page for the H125:
TheWikipedia page for the H125: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurocopter_AS350_%C3%89cureuil