The US agency will use the aircraft for security during rocket launches, emergency medical services and qualified personnel transport.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has placed an order for three H135 helicopters, marking the first-ever partnership between the US space program and Airbus Helicopters. The order was announced today at the Airbus booth at the Heli Expo Trade show in Anaheim, California.
The H135s will be operated out of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a variety of missions, including rocket launches, security, emergency medical services, and passenger transport. Two of the helicopters are scheduled for delivery later this summer, with a third planned for early 2021.
"NASA chose the H135 because Airbus was able to meet all the NASA mission requirements which include personnel movements, airborne law enforcement roles, aerial firefighting, weapons training, and overwater operations," said Dave Ramsey, NASA's Chief of Flight Operations at the Kennedy Space Center. "The H135 provides a modernized airframe that performs well in the Florida environment and will serve to protect NASA assets and personnel for years to come."
As part of a fleet replacement initiative, NASA will acquire the aircraft through Davenport Aviation, an SBA-certified woman-owned small business and HUBZone contractor specializing in the supply of aerospace equipment to federal, state and local government agencies.
"These new helicopters will help support NASA and the men and women who advance space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research," said Romain Trapp, President of Airbus Helicopters Inc. and Head of the North America region. "We look forward to partnering with NASA to provide them with the best products and services to complete their important mission."
The H135 is the market leader among light twin-engine helicopters, known for its endurance, reliability and versatility. It boasts the Airbus-developed Helionix avionics suite designed by pilots specifically for helicopters. The H135's advanced cockpit improves pilots' situational awareness, and the high-set main rotor and Fenestron shrouded tail rotor enhance operational safety. Globally, the H135 operates in more than 60 countries and has flown more than 5 million flight hours.