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Kopter SH09
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Fri, 05/17/2019 – 21:17

The SH09 is a light-single helicopter currently being developed by Swiss manufacturer Kopter Group AG, a company that was formerly known as Marenco Swisshelicopter. Further described as being in the 2.5-metric ton class, the SH09 is a clean-sheet design that incorporates a number of advanced technologies, including with respect to the airframe’s engine and structure. With regard to its market segment, the airframe is the “first design of a single-engine light helicopter for the long, light-single market in more than 30 years.” The first flight of the SH09, which is powered by a single Honeywell HTS900-2 turboshaft engine, took place on Oct. 2, 2014, at the company’s facility in Mollis, Switzerland, near Zurich. Subsequently, the first flights of the second and third prototypes—designated as P2 and P3—took place in February 2016 and November 2018, respectively. Kopter is currently working toward concurrent approval of the SH09 by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and FAA in 2020.

Promoted as having the “largest cabin volume in its category,” the modular cabin of the SH09 is expected to be capable of accommodating eight passengers in addition to the single required pilot. Beyond those passengers, the SH09 can carry up to 10 suitcases, with cargo hold able to be accessed through the airframe’s rear clamshell doors. Multiple cabin configuration options are offered by Kopter, with the baseline configuration allowing for up to two pilots and four or five passengers—depending on the number of pilots—in forward-facing seats. The “Traveler” configuration is also marketed as having space for up to two pilots, as well as six passengers in seats that are also forward facing. Distinctions of both of the “Traveler Club” and “Air Van” configurations are the four aft-facing seats and single pilot, with those aft-facing seats located across from two and three forward facing seats, respectively. The Travel Club and Air Van configurations are able to accommodate the highest number of passengers, with those layouts having respective seating capacities of seven and eight. When outfitted to perform helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operations, two pilots, 2-3 medical personnel and a single stretchered patient can be carried. While, when utilized to carry cargo instead of passengers, the cabin can accommodate two pilots and two standard pallets.

Still other aspects of the cabin—such as its high-ceiling, multi-attachment prepared flat-floor, sliding side doors on both sides and total volume—are noted as being beneficial to SH09 operators. Additionally, the multi-attachment flat-floor, as well as presence of quick-lock seat devices, are noted as making the reconfiguration of the cabin easier. The airframe’s seats are described as having “a high-back energy-absorbing structure,” as well as a four-point harness that has “a quick-release buckle and a life vest pocket under the cushion.”

Flight crews will operate the SH09 by utilizing Garmin’s G3000H integrated flight deck, an avionics system that will include a pair of 12-in. high-resolution displays that are noted as being night-vision goggle (NVG) compatible. In addition to the G3000H’s displays, the airframe makes “extensive use” of light-emitting diode (LED) lights that are also NVG compatible. The helicopter’s man-machine interface incorporates technologies such as touch-screen controls and voice-controlled radio selection that are “designed to reduce pilot workload.” The designated multifunction display (MFD) can, with its split-screen capability, display systems information and video inputs, with the latter including technologies such as “internal or external cameras [and] IR [infrared] devices.” With regard to such mission-specific equipment, Kopter promotes the G3000H as allowing for “easy integration.” Other features of the SH09’s avionics include horizontal situational indicator (HSI) mapping, a Mode S transponder that is automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) In and Out capable and 3D synthetic vision technology that is marketed as improving both safety and pilot situational awareness, particularly in degraded-visibility environments and when operating at night in visual flight rules (VFR) conditions. Although the G3000H is promoted by Kopter as being “IFR [instrument flight rules] ready,” the SH09 is projected to reach that milestone in 2022 “once the development of a four-axis autopilot is complete and certified.” In contrast to the planned inclusion of the G3000H on production airframes, the third flight-test airframe is equipped with avionics provided by a different manufacturer.

Mission and Performance

In addition to passenger-carrying operations such as crew-change, executive and VIP transport, shuttle and tourism, the SH09 is noted as being able to perform missions such as law enforcement, medical and rescue and utility. 

For the passenger-transport operations listed above, Kopter states that the benefits of the SH09 include the cabin volume and accessibility—the latter of which is made easier by “the long fixed step on the landing gear,” as well as the sliding doors on both sides of helicopter—the number of possible layouts depending upon the needs of the operator and the level of passenger comfort. Benefits to operators performing medical and rescue operations such as HEMS and search and rescue (SAR) include the cabin volume and the airframe’s cruise speed, as well as the rear clamshell doors that allow for the loading and unloading of patients under the tail boom. The combination of the cabin height and previously discussed multi-attachment prepared floor allows for the installation of medical equipment, while SAR operators can outfit the SH09 with equipment such as a rescue hoist and search light.

Many of the same features that benefit HEMS and SAR operations are also noted as being of value to law enforcement operators, including the size of the helicopter’s cabin, its cruise speed and the multi-attachment floor. Additional characteristics that are useful to such operators include the ability of personnel to quickly egress and ingress the cabin through the sliding doors, with rappelling equipment available as an option. From a performance perspective, this type of operator also benefits from the endurance and range of the SH09, as well as the low amount of noise that it produces.

When utilized to perform a variety of utility missions—including carrying sling loads, firefighting, hoisting, line inspection and news gathering—the power produced by the Honeywell engine, sling-load capacity and cabin visibility are all promoted as being beneficial. The helicopter’s sling-load capacity is noted as being of particular value in aerial crane and firefighting operations. For operators carrying cargo, the multi-attachment floor is able to accommodate various sizes of cargo box, with the clamshell doors and high tail boom allowing for the loading and unloading of cargo.

Helicopters which are comparable to the SH09 to include Airbus’ H125—which is known as the AStar in the U.S. market—and the Bell 407. When compared to the H125, the SH09 has similar speed and endurance figures, while besting the Airbus product in terms of maximum passenger capacity and range. Another area where the SH09 will have a greater capability than the H125 is with respect to operating conditions once the Kopter product is certified for flight in IFR conditions. According to the EASA TCDS for the H125—which is one of the commercial designation for the AS350 B3 type—it is limited to operations in VFR day and night conditions, with the latter only being possible following the installation of “additional equipment required by operational regulations.” When compared to the Bell 407, the Kopter airframe will exceed the Bell helicopter’s capabilities in all of the categories noted above. In addition to competing with other single-engine helicopters, Kopter also promotes the cabin size as being “not dissimilar to its twin-engine competitors.”

The performance figures of the SH09 that have been released by Kopter include a maximum range of 430 nm, an endurance of 5 hr. and a fast cruise speed of 140 kt.

Variants

Kopter SH09 Specifications

Maximum Passenger Capacity

8

Engines (1X)

Honeywell HTS900-2

Maximum Takeoff Power (hp)

1,020

Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW)(lb.)

Internal

External

6,284

6,614

Beyond the helicopter’s MTOW with internal and external loads, the SH09 is also promoted as having a sling-load capacity of 3,300 lb. The airframe’s fuel system is described as being crashworthy and featuring a three-cell design, while the HTS900-2 engine—which features a full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system that reduces pilot workload during autorotation and startup—is what enables the SH09’s high-altitude and hot-condition performance. Kopter notes that the HTS900 incorporates a number of advanced technologies—such a dual centrifugal compressor and a “integral sprang clutch”—with the engine capable of generating a maximum takeoff power of 1,020 hp. In addition to producing more power, the HTS900 also consumes less fuel, does not have a “hard” time between overhaul (TBO) and, because of the materials used, has lower maintenance requirements.

The HTS900 powers a rotor system that includes a main rotor comprised of five full-composite blades that are promoted for the safety improvements provided by their “high ground clearance,” the maneuverability they provide and the low life cycle costs and vibration levels. Benefits of the helicopter’s main gear box include its compact design and the robustness of its case, with the architecture of the case “integrating pressure lubrication with oil cooling and chip detectors.” The SH09’s shrouded tail rotor is also promoted for its safety benefits, with Kopter stating that its design “minimize[es] the risk of harming ground personnel and of accidental contact with obstacles and objects.” Featuring 10 blades that are “unevenly spaced,” other benefits of the tail rotor include the amount of required maintenance and noise emissions—both of which are marketed as being low—as well as the design’s tolerance for damage, which is noted as being high. The design of the shrouded tail rotor also has aerodynamic benefits, with the “aerodynamic design of the rotor fairing increase[ing] the anti-torque thrust during flight and provid[ing] superior performance.” While the HTS900 does not have a TBO, the main gear box does have a defined TBO of 5,000 hr., something that—along with low vibration levels—is enabled by the “low-speed internal design and four attachment point dampers.”

Because the SH09’s airframe is made of composite materials, it is lighter, while at the same time “more robust compared to traditional metallic cells.” Indeed, the airframe is “capable of matching the most stringent crash-resistance requirements for occupants’ protection and fuel containment.” In addition to those benefits of a composite structure, it also allowed Kopter to lower the need for ribs and supports, a reduction that enables a greater internal volume. Other benefits of the SH09’s composite structure include its ability to better tolerate “corrosion, humidity and salty environments.”

The electrical and hydraulic systems found on the SH09 are “dual redundant” systems, the latter of which complies with the EASA’s CS-29 (certification specifications) design standards for small rotorcraft. Kopter states that it is the redundancies found in the electrical system which “provides the safety levels required for IFR operators,” a system that incorporates an engine-mounted 200-amp generator.

The final design of the SH09 was unveiled in January 2020—just prior to that year’s Heli-Expo—with the manufacturer stating that a number of areas were enhanced in that design, including the aerodynamics, usable space in the cabin and passenger seating, main rotor configuration and tail rotor (with the latter described as being redesigned), gear box, landing skids and stability. Improvements made as part of the new aerodynamic package involve the end plates on the tail plane, main and tail rotor hub fairings and shape of the tail fins, the latter of which improves “the riding quality and stability.” The goal of redesigning the shrouded tail rotor was to “further optimize the noise signature [and] service life,” while also making maintenance easier. With reference to the improvements made to the main rotor, maintenance is made easier through the incorporation of a design that features “inter-blade elastometric dampers and external flight-control lines.” Changes to the main rotor also improve the helicopter’s control and performance, with an elongated mast making the former better and a “optimized blade shape” improving the latter. Located along the trailing edge of the main rotor blades are a number of large trim tabs that are designed to provide the SH09 with additional stability. Also on the top of the helicopter, changes which were made to the cowling allow for easier maintenance access, while updates to the cowling shape enhance the aerodynamics and fitting “with the improved rotor design.” Aerodynamically, the design of the new cowlings is meant to “reduce the amount of turbulent air along the tail boom and reduce drag by around 10% by sending air down underneath the tail boom.” Additionally, the new cowling is also promoted as easing access to a number of “upper deck aircraft systems” such as the electrical and hydraulic systems. As is noted above, the SH09’s fuel system is a three-cell crashworthy system, with the enhancements made as part of the final design—which “relocated part of the fuel from the two sidewall cells into the cabin floor cell”—resulting in additional space being made available in the rear cabin, allowing for the installation of the airframe’s eighth seat.

Program Status/Operators

In addition to the production of SH09s that occurs in Mollis, Kopter announced in March 2019 that the company would open a U.S. production facility in Lafeyette, Louisiana, with that second facility planned to begin operations in “mid-2020” and deliver its first helicopter in 2021. As is the case with the planned production of the SH09, the flight testing of the airframe is also taking place in multiple locations. Supplementing the flight testing that occurs in Switzerland, testing of the SH09 is also taking place in Pozzalo, Italy, on the island of Sicily. According to Kopter, the goal of operations in Sicily is to engage in “an intensive flight-test campaign [that] significantly opens the flight envelope.”

Also announced at the 2020 Heli-Expo was the sale of Kopter AG from owner Lynwood AG to aerospace, defense and security company Leonardo, in a deal that was worth $185 million. Following the completion of that transaction—which is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2020—Kopter will remain an “autonomous entity” within Leonardo. According to Leonardo’s press release announcing the transaction, the purchase of Kopter replaced a “planned investment aimed at the development of a new single-engine helicopter.”

Channel
Commercial Aviation

Market Indicator Code
Helicopter

Article page size
10

Profile page size
10

Program Profile ID
464417

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