Airbus Helicopters used the stage at the Paris Air Show to announce a two-year development phase for a new model code-named the X6 that would emerge as a modern-day replacement for the 1970s-era Super Puma.
Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury said the X6 would primarily target the oil and gas industry as well as search and rescue operations, meeting customer requirements for a more economical helicopter that can go farther.
He also said the X6 would be the company’s first civil helicopter to feature Airbus’s fly-by-wire technology, used in Airbus jetliners to keep aircraft within safe limits of the flight envelope.
Based on an artist’s rendering released by Airbus Helicopters, the X6 appears to share some of the technology of the recently unveiled H160 medium twin, including its sculpted five-blade main rotor and new materials in the fuselage and structure.
Highlighting the need for a successor product, the aging Super Puma design has been in production continuously since 1978. The original Puma on which it is based saw its first deliveries in 1968.
First flight of the X6 is expected within about five years with certification and initial deliveries in about a decade.
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