Image – Patrick Penna
The UK’s road network system has got to be one of the most congested in Europe. It often achieves gridlock. In fact the London Orbital motorway is commonly known as England’s largest free car park. However, there is a way to beat the system, to travel at 190mph through the centre of London safe in the knowledge that your driving licence will remain unblemished. The solution comes in the form of the Eurocopter AS365 N3 Dauphin. A true traffic buster and the ultimate business advantage for the 21st century.
This year, Eurocopter celebrates its 20th anniversary. It was created in 1992 with the merger between the helicopter divisions of Aerospatiale-matra (France) and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Germany). It is now a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, one of the three largest aerospace groups in the world and producer of the worlds largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380.
Over 11,500 Eurocopter helicopters are in operation. This makes up 33% of the world’s civil and paramilitary fleet. It also boasts an extensive worldwide training and support network ensuring your helicopter stays in optimum condition.
Building upon success
The first Dauphin took to the air in 1975, since then it has been continually updated and refined to ensure it fulfils all the requirements placed upon it by its many demanding owners and operators. As a consequence it is an exceptionally versatile airframe, adaptable to a wide range of demanding roles, both civil and military. It is used not just for VIP/corporate transport but also airborne law enforcement, emergency air ambulance and search and rescue, to name but a few roles. With over 900 Dauphins in operation and having accumulated over 4,600,000 flight hours, as an owner/operator of Eurocopters most successful design, you can be assured that this medium weight helicopter will fulfil, if not surpass, your operational expectations.
The N3+ is one of the latest additions to the Dauphin family. The Dauphin is a surprisingly fast and powerful helicopter and the N3+ is fitted with the unique Eurocopter 4-axis autopilot. With its 2 Turbomeca Arriel 2C turbine engines, it is particularly suited to hot and high conditions.
Image – Patrick Penna
Its unique sleek design is enhanced with the use of retractable tricycle undercarriage improving its aerodynamics yet still allowing it to ground taxi like a normal fixed winged aircraft. This may seem a minor point, but from an operational point of view an important one. It allows the flexibility to operate into busy international airports where hover taxiing is often frowned upon because of the possible damage to other fixed wing aircraft from down wash. It also offers up the possibility of a running landing and, more importantly, when operating at the limits of its operational envelope, a safer more fuel efficient running take off.
Unlike other manufacturers whose helicopters use vulnerable exposed tail rotor blades Eurocopter use their own designed fenestron or ducted fan. This uses smaller blades enclosed in a duct which forms part of the tail fin. The advantages of this other than aerodynamic, are manifold, the most important being a significant reduction in potential damage caused by FOD, Foreign Object Damage. There is also less liklihood of people who are unfamiliar with helicopters walking into a spinning tail rotor.
Image – Patrick Penna
The N3+ takes this concept one stage further. Rather than have the fenestron blades evenly spaced, as you might expect, they are asymmetrically placed, producing significantly less noise and vibration than a conventional tail rotor.
A helicopter is an ideal platform to incorporate composite technologies where weight reduction and strength enhancement all aid better performance. The Dauphin utilizes composite materials in areas such as access doors for the passenger compartment. Flying surfaces, namely the main rotor blades and fenestron blades are of composite construction. More significantly the Eurocopter Starflex Fiberglass rotor head is also predominantly of composite material. It optimizes a rigid head construction with fewer moving parts, and much more fail-safe design. Consequently it is easy to adjust and less maintenance is required. This all leads to a service life of 20,000hours. The design also enhances aircraft manoeuvrability whilst offering greater stability with a significant reduction in noise and vibration levels.
The Dauphin is a sizeable platform, 14 metres in length with a 12 metre rotor diameter. Although not high the passenger compartment is surprisingly spacious. Eurocopter can offer a variety of seating configurations and bespoke trim levels depending upon taste and requirements. VIP configuration can be from five to seven seats, plus accomdation for two pilots, alternatively eight seats in corporate configuration. The luggage compartment is also substantial, able to swallow up to several sets of golf clubs or skis as well as baggage.
Even when airborne, to ensure that no time is wasted, the latest communications systems can be integrated keeping you in touch with the business world.
The main rotor head is set high above the cabin once again enhancing safety for passengers as they enter or leave the aircraft.
Image – Eric Raz
A six seat VIP configuration at maximum takeoff weight of 4,300Kgs and full standard fuel load will allow a range of 350nm. That equates roughly to the distance from London, England, to Edinburgh, Scotland, and is achievable in under two hours, a journey that would take at least six hours by road or four hours by scheduled flight, including travel to the airport and negotiating security.
Pilots are well catered for
The Dauphin can be operated either single or dual pilot, and is able to fly under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). This allows it to fly in controlled airspace, day or night, giving it full access to major international airports. It can be equipped with all the necessary flight instruments and avionics to fulfil all IFR requirements. Pilots are provided with modern digital flight displays and a four axis autopilot to help reduce workload. This would mitigate pilot fatigue and so improve flight safety.
Service and Support
With the Dauphin, Eurocopter offers comprehensive support and services 24 hours a day anywhere in the world. With its network 30 subsidiaries and more than 5000 employees, problems should they arise, can be dealt with promptly. Eurocopter believes that this ease of access to help is a key benefit and a major plus in satisfying customers’ needs. Engineering support can be tailor made to match individual modes of operation and requirements. With guaranteed servicing turn round times and down time are minimized enhancing availability of aircraft.
A dignified way to travel
Helicopter flying was a large part of my life for ten years. It was most definitely one of the most exciting and versatile forms of transport I have ever experienced. With no requirement for a runway to hurtle down, takeoff is more a serene gliding sensation as the aircraft effortlessly ascends. You get a truly bird’s eyeview of the ground beneath. No wings to impede your view. You are not constrained by the need for miles of concrete from which to depart and arrive. Rotary transport allows you to be the master of your own timetable and the departure lounge could easily be your own home living room. Providing you have sufficient space, a helicopter can operate from virtually anywhere. Today, many corporate headquarters even have their own Helipad such is the importance they place upon communications.
Image – Patrick Penna
Owning and operating a helicopter is a considered investment, however, the flexibility and versatility it can offer is second to none. It would allow you to achieve much more in your busy day, offering a seamless solution to the conflict between business and pleasure. A meeting in London followed by horse racing at Cheltenham is a very conceivable proposition.
The Eurocopter AS365 N3+ Dauphin is an ideal platform that would undoubtably meet your requirements admirably. It is proven technology in a refined package.
Images kindly provided by Eurocopter.
About the author
Clive Girven is an experienced commercial pilot, with a flying career which commenced in the British Royal Air Force, flying helicopters.
Clive flies an Embraer for a well-known airline but sometimes waxes lyrical about his other passion in life, collecting wristwatches with an aeronautical theme.