In late September, Airbus delivered its 1,400th H135 to the French operator Mont Blanc, adding to a fleet of more than 20 H135 and H145 helicopters currently in service with the operator to provide HEMS in France. The milestone capped off a 20-plus-year history for the programme and cements the H135 as a leader in the HEMS industry, currently holding 25% of the global market share for HEMS and boasting over 650 units in service.
“As the benchmark for HEMS helicopters, the H135 is the safest, most reliable and most economic platform – arriving at the scene on time… every time,” explained Martin Schneider, Airbus Helicopters’ Head of the H135 programme. “There are more than 650 H135s in emergency medical service duties, operated by thousands of pilots and medics who protect and save lives each day.”
Since first entering into service in 1996, the H135 family of helicopters has gone through regular improvements in performance and capabilities. To respond to the unique needs of HEMS operators, the H135 programme has taken an active role by conducting conferences, interviews, questionnaires, and surveys, as well as using Reliability Data Group customer input and reliability figures.
Recent global events have demonstrated the need for reliable, adaptable and cost-efficient operating helicopters and it’s clear that Airbus has produced a winner. The latest H135 version has an increased maximum take-off weight of 90 kg and a useful load increase of up to 225 kg, allowing HEMS operators to explore new possibilities for the care provided during transit.
Feedback from medics and pilots is that the H135 is one of the easiest helicopters to operate, particularly in confined spaces where many HEMS aircrews find themselves. A landing site may be next to a major road or a playing field in the suburbs. Either way, the H135 looks set to continue to answer the call for many years to come.