|2008 Eurocopter EC135 T2+
N954AL (sn 0694)
Airlift Northwest Medivac Helicopter.
Photo taken Jul. 2009
Arlington, WA - USA (AWO / KAWO)
|Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
The Eurocopter EC135 is a twin-engine civil helicopter produced by Eurocopter, widely used amongst police and ambulance services and for executive transport. It is capable of flight under instrument flight rules (IFR).
The EC135 can trace its history back to before the formation of Eurocopter. It was started as the BO 108 by MBB of Germany in the mid-eighties. A technology demonstrator ('V1') flew for the first time on 17 October 1988, powered by two Allison 250-C20R/1 engines. A second BO 108 ('V2') followed on 5 June 1991, this time with two Turboméca TM319-1B Arrius engines. Both these machines had a conventional tail rotor.
In late 1992, the design was revised with the introduction of the Fenestron tail rotor system, reflecting the creation of Eurocopter that year through the merger of Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) and Aérospatiale. In contrast to other helicopters, the tail rotor blades have been integrated into the tailboom and as they are framed by the tailboom, the risk of an accident has been significantly reduced. This tail rotor system, combined with the fuselage's roomy dimensions, means that the EC135 aircraft has become popular with aeromedical helicopter operators. The EC135 is the best selling light twin of the past 10 years.
Two pre-production prototypes were built. They flew on 15 February and 16 April 1994, testing the Arrius 2B and Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B engines, the older and less powerful Allison Model 250 powerplant having been rejected. A third helicopter followed on 28 November 1994.
The EC135 made its US debut at the Heli-Expo in January 1995 at Las Vegas. After over 1,600 flight hours, European JAA certification was achieved on 16 June 1996, with FAA approval following on 31 July. Deliveries started on 1 August, when two helicopters (0005 and 0006) were handed over to Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht. The 100th EC135 was handed over to the Bavarian police force in June 1999. By that time the worldwide fleet had accumulated approximately 30,000 flight hours. As of 2008, the fleet total stood at over 1 million flight hours, with over 650 aircraft delivered.
Single-pilot IFR (SPIFR) certification was granted by the German LBA on December 2, 1999. Deliveries to the German Aviators Corps began on 13 September 2000 at the German Army Aviators School at (Bückeburg Air Base) near Achum. The EC135 received SPIFR certification from the UK CAA in December 2000.
In autumn 2000, Eurocopter announced the start of certification work for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B2, a version of the PW207 which offers improved single-engine performance and 30 second emergency power. The LBA certification was achieved on 10 July 2001, and the first EC135 with the new engines was handed over to the Swedish National Police on 10 August 2001.
The world fleet leader in aircraft hours for this type is G-NESV (s/n 0067) operated by Cleveland Police Air Operations Unit based at Durham Tees Valley Airport, UK. This aircraft was originally delivered to the North East Air Support Unit in April 1999, and by 2009 it had clocked up almost 12,000 hours.
At the NBAA in March 2007 in Atlanta, Eurocopter unveiled ‘L’Hélicoptère par Hermès, a special-edition VIP model designed by Hermès International, S.A.. This variant features a specially-created luxury four-place main cabin, a sliding glass partition, a corporate baggage hold, redesigned skid landing gear and other external changes. Launch customer for ‘L’Hélicoptère par Hermès is Falcon Aviation Services (FAS), based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Offshore Wind Support
In March 2009 the EC135 was the first aircraft selected for offshore wind support in the UK after the UK Civil Aviation Authority approved helicopter operations to the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm. The EC135 had already been used for some time in Denmark, supporting the Horns Rev offshore wind farm where over 10,000 successful personnel transfers have taken place.
Eurocopter EC135 P1
Powered by two 463 kW (621 shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B. Later versions have the Center Panel Display System (CPDS). Initial maximum take-off weight (M.T.O.W.) of 2,631 kg (5,800 lbs), later raised to 2,721 kg (6,000 lbs) and then 2,835 kg (6,250 lbs).
Eurocopter EC135 T1
Powered by two 435 kW (583 shp) Turbomeca Arrius 2B1/2B1A/2B1A1. Later versions have the CPDS. Initial M.T.O.W. of 2,631 kg (5,800 lbs), later raised to 2,721 kg (6,000 lbs) and then 2,835 kg (6,250 lbs).
Eurocopter EC135 P2
Powered by two 463 kW (621 shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B2. Increased thermodynamic and mechanic OEI ratings (128% OEI torque). Replaced EC135 P1 in production in August 2001.
Eurocopter EC135 T2
Powered by two 452 kW (652 shp) Turbomeca Arrius 2B2. Increased thermodynamic and mechanic OEI ratings (128% OEI torque). Replaced EC135 T1 in production in August 2002.
Eurocopter EC135 P2+
Latest production version with 498 kW (667 shp) PW206B2 (new power ratings based on a FADEC software upgrade), plus a 2,910 kg (6,415 lbs) M.T.O.W. upgrade, extended component time between overhaul (TBOs), and a change in the main transmission lubricating oil. Built in Germany and Spain.
Eurocopter EC135 T2+
Latest production version with 473 kW (634 shp) Arrius 2B2 engines (new power ratings based on a FADEC software upgrade), plus a 2,910 kg (6,415 lbs) M.T.O.W. upgrade, extended component TBOs, and a change in the main transmission lubricating oil. Built in Germany and Spain.
Eurocopter EC135 P2i
Marketing designation of aircraft upgraded to (rather than built to) EC135 P2+ standard.
Eurocopter EC135 T2i
Marketing designation of aircraft upgraded to (rather than built to) EC135 T2+ standard.
Eurocopter EC 635
Military variant operated by Jordan and Swiss Air Force
- Buenos Aires Province : 1 EC135T1 Governor VIP aircraft
- Gendarmerie : 1 EC135T2
- 25 EC 135 T1 & T2's in service with the Austrian Motorist & Touring Club (ÖAMTC) for air rescue purposes usually with a HEMS crew member and emergency physician on board. The helicopters serve the ÖAMTC Air Ambulance Services from 22 bases around Austria.
- 8 ordered by the Ministry of Interior in 2007.
- 2 EC 135's in private service
- 1 with Queensland Emergency Management Services in Brisbane.
- 2 with Curry Kenny Aviation for Marine Pilot Transfers in Gladstone and Hay Point.
- 2 being provided by Australian Aerospace Ltd, and operated by Helicopters (Australia) Pty Ltd providing aircrew familiarisation for Australian Army Helicopter Aircrew at Robertson Barracks, Darwin.
- 2 helicopters EC-135T2i operated by the Brazilian Air Force
- 2 helicopters EC-135T2i operated by the Brazilian Customs
- 1 helicopter EC-135T2i operated by the Distrito Federal Military Fire Corps
- 7 EC 135 T2's in service & 1 on order with the Czech Police Aviation Department in Prague. 3 are for emergency medical service, 4 are for police missions and 1 will be for universal mission operations when it is delivered in 2008.
- 3 EC 135T2's and one EC 135 T1 in service DSA (Delta System Air) - private air rescue
- 1 in service with DAP Helicópteros
- 1 in service with Aeroandina
- 1 in service with Aerocardal
- 1 EC 135T1 in service with Carabineros de Chile
- 2 in service with Medi-Heli Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS)
- 3 in service with Copterline as multipurpose Rescue Helicopters + 2 reserve helicopters. Equipped with NVG-night vision equipment, Spectrolab SX-16 Nightsun IFCO searchlight, Inframetrics Mark II-infrared camera, Bucher casualty stretcher and Bambi Bucket fire fighting system.
- 4 in service with Skärgårdshavets Helikoptertjänst Ab as intensive care transport helicopter, two helicopters are in service with Medi-Heli Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS).
- 12 ordered by the French Gendarmerie in 2007 to replace its aging AS 350 Ecureuil fleet for police missions. Costing €233 million, the new helicopters are expected to be delivered by the end of 2008.
- 12 in service with Helicap in Paris and eight regional hospital centers in France performing emergency medical services.
- 15 in service with the German Army Aviation Corps in Bückeburg for training purposes.
- 2 delivered in 2007 and 14 on order with the German Ministry of the Interior to replace the BO 105 in its "Orange Fleet" for air rescue duties in Germany. Deliveries are expected to by completed by 2009.
- 2 in service with the Hamburg Police Helicopter Squadron, replacing the retired BO 105 helicopters for law enforcement missions.
- 42 in service with the Bundespolizei
- 9 in service with the Bavarian Police Helicopter Squadron.
- 2 EC 135 T1's in service with the Greek Police in Athens.
- 1 in service with NAS Air Ambulance Pc. for air ambulance purposes
- 2 EC 135 P2 helicopters are in service with the Irish Air Corps for pilot training, emergency medical services and army support.
- 2 EC 135 T1 is in service with the Irish Police (Garda Síochána), based with their Air Support Unit in Baldonnel and used for police support missions in Dublin.
- 3 in service with Elifriulia, 1 as Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) based in Udine, 1 as Local Police in Rome, and 1 as a back-up
- 1 in service with Elilario as Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) based in Verona
- 1 in service with Aiut Alpin Dolomites as Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) based in Alpe di Siusi (Bolzano/Bozen)
- 2 on order for the Naval Training School of the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force.
- 2 in service with Kuwait Police
- 2 in service with the Lithuanian Border Guard for patrol operations at the external ES borders with Belarus and Russia.
- 3 in service with Transportes Aéreos Pegaso operating from Ciudad del Carmen and serving the PEMEX offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
- 6 serve as air ambulances in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Nijmegen, Groningen and reserve, training
- 6 are on order to replace the Bo105's in Police service. (2 are delivered)
- The Norwegian Air Ambulance have 8 EC 135 in service.
- Oslo Police Department use one EC 135 SP-1 and one Eurocopter AS350B3 Ecureuil.
People's Republic of China
- 2 ordered by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau in 2007 to be used for police air patrol and reconnaissance missions in Shanghai and during the 2008 Olympic Games due to some soccer matches being held in the city.
- 23 EC-135s and a flight simulator are to be delivered to LPR - Lotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe (Air Ambulance Service).
- 1 EC-135 in service for the Polsat News TV station
- 2 EC-135P2 in service with the Romanian Ministry of Interior, two being equipped for police missions. Registration: 290, 297
- 2 (one EC-135P2 and one EC-135T2+)in service with the Ministry of Health for emergency medical service, operated by the Ministry of Interior. Registration: 334, 340 (334 340)
- 1 EC-135 in service for the RealitateaTV television station (YR-RTV)
- 1 EC-135P2+ in service for Direct Aero Services. (YR-ECI)
- 1 EC-135P2+ in service for Corsarul Rosu Air. (YR-RYC)
- 1 EC 135 P2 helicopter in service with Slovenian police primarily for border patrol duties.
- 4 ordered by INAER to be delivered between 2007 and 2009 and will be used for emergency medical service operations.
- 4 ordered by the Spanish Ministry of Defence in 2007 for the Unidad Militar de Emergencias (UME), a new Spanish Armed Forces unit.
- 51 oredered by the Spanish Ministry of Interior for the Cuerpo Nacional de Policía and Guardia Civil
- 7 in service with the Swedish Police and equipped with night vision equipment, infrared camera, searchlight, exterior loudspeaker, emergency floats, rescue winch and casualty stretcher. The helicopters are used for law enforcement, ground patrol and air rescue missions across Sweden.
- 2 on order with the Swiss Air Force for Federal Air Transport Services, expected to be delivered between March 2008 & December 2009.
United Arab Emirates
- 1 in service with Falcon Aviation Services.
- 1 in service for the police forces in the Central England (G-CCAU)
- 2 in service for the police forces in the Chilterns (G-CHSU & G-CPSH)
- 1 in service for the Cleveland Air Operations Unit
- 1 in service for the Cornwall Air Ambulance (G-KRNW)
- 2 in service for the Devon Air Ambulance
- 1 in service for the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance (G-DORS)
- 1 in service for the police forces in the East Midlands (G-EMID)
- 1 in service for the Essex Air Ambulance (G-SSSX)
- 1 in service for Essex Police (G-ESEX)
- 1 in service for Lancashire Constabulary (G-LASU)
- 1 in service for Merseyside Police (G-XMII)
- 3 in service for the Midlands Air Ambulance
- 1 in service for North Wales Police (G-NWPS)
- 2 in service for the police forces in North East England (G-NEAU)
- 1 in service for the North West Air Ambulance (G-NWAA)
- 1 in service for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (G-PSNI)
- 2 in service for the Scottish Ambulance Service (G-SASA & G-SASB)
- 1 in service for South East Wales Police Air Support Unit (G-WONN)
- 1 in service for Strathclyde Police (G-SPAO)
- 1 in service for Suffolk Police (G-SUFK)
- 1 in service for Surrey Police (G-SURY)
- 1 in service for West Midlands Police (G-WMAO burnt out due to arson G-SUFF standing in)
- 1 in service for police forces in the West Country (G-WCAO)
- 1 in service for VIP Air Charter SaxonAir (G-KLNK)
- 10 in service with Air Methods for air ambulance purposes
- 8 ordered by Era Helicopters in 2007 for oil & gas support in the Gulf of Mexico.
- 10 EC 135 P2 helicopters in service with PHI for air medical duties and offshore energy sector support.
- 5 in service in Central Ohio for Medflight
- 4 in service in Tampa, Florida for Bayflite Air Ambulance
- 2 in service in Spokane, Washington for MedStar Air Ambulance.
- 4 in service in Washington, DC and Maryland for MedSTAR Transport.
- 1 in service in Kailua-Kona, HI for Hawaii Life Flight.
- 1 in service for REACH Air Medical Services (2 more to follow in 2009).
- 1 in service in Winston-Salem, NC for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center AirCare
Notable accidents and incidents
An LifeNet EC135 P2 operated by Air Methods Corporation crashed on 10 January 2005 after delivering a patient in Washington, D.C., killing the pilot and a paramedic, also seriously injuring a nurse. The wreckage of the helicopter was recovered from the Potomac River. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded a probable cause of controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)
An Air Methods Corporation EC135 T2+ crashed into a wooded hillside during a night flight on May 10, 2008 near La Crosse, Wisconsin. The pilot along with a doctor and a nurse were killed.
An EC135 owned by Services Group of America crashed on 14 February, 2010, near Cave Creek, Arizona, killing all five on board. Witnesses reported hearing popping noises, and seeing debris falling before the helicopter spun two or three times, banked sharply and fell 200 or 300 feet, nose-first, into a desert wash.
Specifications (Eurocopter EC135 P2+/T2+)
Crew: 1 pilot
Capacity: up to seven passengers or two crew and two patients (Air Ambulance variant)
Length: 12.16 m (39 ft 11 in)
Rotor diameter: 10.20 m (33 ft 6 in)
Height: 3.51 m (11 ft 6 in)
Disc area: 81.7 m² (880 ft²)
Empty weight: 1,455 kg (3,208 lb)
Useful load: 1,455 kg (3,208 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 2,910 kg (6,415 lb)
Powerplant: 2× Turbomeca Arrius 2B2 or Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B turboshafts, 473 / 498 kW (634 / 667 shp) each
Never exceed speed: 287 km/h (155 knots, 178 mph)
Cruise speed: 254 km/h (137 knots, 158 mph)
Range: 635 km (342 nm, 393 mi)
Service ceiling: 6,096 m (20,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 7.62 m/s (1,500 ft/min)