An invite from Airbus Helicopters to have a close inspection and flight in its new H145 D-3 last week at Oxford Airport was too good an opportunity to miss. The chance to see what difference the new five-bladed set-up makes to what is already a remarkable helicopter.

The H145 currently has no equivalent that offers such a multi-role capability and transportation capacity while remaining compact. This latest version of the H145 family offers an improved 150 kg useful load, which means it has the best useful load to maximum take-off weight ratio for a light twin helicopter.

But, with all technical jargon put to one side, the first question I was asked when we touched back down on the helipad by Airbus staff was “What did you think of it, Glenn?”

“It’s one of the most impressive helicopters I have flown in. The Helionix avionics system means that even I could have landed it,” was my reply.

While the pilot remained politely quiet at my comment, it was obvious that what Airbus has on its hands is one of the most technologically advanced and pilot-friendly helicopters currently out there. The advantage that any customer has is to convert their earlier four-bladed H145 D-2 to this mind-blowing five-bladed D-3 by aid of a simple retrofit kit supplied by Airbus.

With a cockpit equipped with the innovative Helionix avionics system, an automatic landing system and the ability to fly hands-off from any helipad, the new D-3 will certainly turn heads and the helicopter market over the next few years.

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