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Airbus Unveils H145-Based Tech Demonstrator

New PioneerLab Helicopter Debuts in Germany

Availing itself of the plentiful attendees and enthusiasm on hand at the German National Aviation Conference, Airbus Helicopters unveiled the PioneerLab, a new twin-engine technology demonstrator based on the consortium’s popular H145 helicopter. The contraption complements Airbus' range of FlightLabs, and is intended to vet technologies germane to the reduction of helicopter-engine emissions, the betterment of autonomy, and the integration of bio-based construction materials.

The FlightLab initiative affords Airbus engineers agile and efficient test beds by which to expediently test technologies. Vehicles developed for the FlightLab program instantiate Airbus’s strategy to incrementally improve its current products and mature technologies salient to future platforms.

Airbus Helicopters head of research and innovation programs Tomasz Krysinski stated: "With PioneerLab, we continue our ambitious strategy to test and mature new technologies on board our helicopter demonstrators. PioneerLab, which is based in Germany at our Donauwörth site, will be our platform to test technologies specifically dedicated to twin-engine helicopters."

The PioneerLab technology demonstrator features a hybrid-electric propulsion system and aerodynamic improvements by dint of which Airbus Helicopters aspires to actualize reductions in fuel-consumption of as much as thirty-percent—compared to the numbers put up by the conventional, turbine-engined, petroleum jet-fuel powered, H145. The PioneerLab demonstrator will also serve as a platform by which Airbus will flight-test structural components fashioned from bio-based and recycled materials intended to reduce the environmental impacts of aircraft production and operation.

To produce subject components, the company will employ processes devised to reduce material and energy consumption and improve recyclability. Additional research and testing objectives to which the PioneerLab demonstrator will be plied include the integration of bleeding-edge digital technologies into the aircraft's flight-control system, and the utilization of sensors to increase autonomy and safety during critical flight phases such as take-off and landing.

PioneerLab is partially funded by the Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz (BMWK), the Federal German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Actions through the ministry’s national research program.

To date, the PioneerLab demonstrator has been utilized to test an inchoate rotor-strike alerting system. Presently, the machine will facilitate testing of an automated helicopter take-off and landing architecture.



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