The H175 (formerly EC175) is a medium-utility helicopter currently manufactured by the Airbus Helicopters company. Originally the helicopter was made by Eurocopter and Avicopter, which dubbed it the Z-15 in Chinese markets.
The EC175 first took flight in 2009 and was officially introduced in 2014. Development began in 2005 when Eurocopter and the Chinese AVIC II were in discussions with one another. It was decided that the companies would co-develop the then “EC175”. AVIC was also speaking to AgustaWestland at the time, in case Eurocopter declined the partnership.
By 2008 the development had reached the point where a formal unveiling was possible. 111 orders were captured during the unveiling alone. Today Eurocopter has been renamed to Airbus Helicopters, but continues business as usual.
The H175 is designed to take on civilian and not military operations. In other words, it is intended mainly for use in the oil and gas industry while also having SAR applications. In parapublic roles it may also be used in homeland security, air ambulance work, utility missions and VIP transport.
The H175 is perhaps one of the most extensively computer-modeled helicopter in modern times. The gears and casing were entirely designed in the CATIA software suite, which is a first for the company. The availability of detailed virtual mockups was crucial to the co-development process which included multiple partners.
The current design uses two 1775 shaft horsepower Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67E turboshaft engines. The design is conventional, with a five-blade main rotor and a three-blade tail rotor.
There are multiple proposed configurations, but the main market version meant for oil and gas customers will seat 16 passengers. The safety specifications for the H175 are very impressive. It exceeds EASA crashworthiness requirements and comes with oversized passenger life rafts and Sea State 6 capability.
The H175 entered production in 2014 and the total number that have entered service is still low. The first two units sold to oil and gas industry customers have completed 1000 flight hours, 750 flights and have transported 11 000 passengers. The company in question has ordered an additional 16 units. Large orders are expected from the Chinese army and several other double-digit orders have been made.