Airbus Helicopters unveils PioneerLab demonstrator


Airbus Helicopters has unveiled its new technology demonstrator, PioneerLab during the German National Aviation Conference in Hamburg.

The twin-engine demonstrator, based on the H145 platform, will be used to test technologies that reduce helicopter emissions, increase autonomy and use bio-based materials, said Airbus. A flight campaign has already begun at the manufacturer’s largest German site in Donauwörth, with a rotor strike alerting system being the first “techno-brick” tested on board the demonstrator. The next phase will be to test an automated take-off and landing system.

Tomasz Krysinski, head of Research and Innovation Programmes at Airbus Helicopters, said: “With PioneerLab, we continue our ambitious strategy to test and mature new technologies on board our helicopter demonstrators. PioneerLab, which is based in Germany at our Donauwörth site, will be our platform to test technologies specifically dedicated to twin-engine helicopters.”

Using hybrid-electric propulsion and aerodynamic improvements, PioneerLab aims to demonstrate a fuel reduction of up to 30% compared to a conventional H145.

Aboard the demonstrator, Airbus Helicopters will also flight-test structural components made from bio-based and recycled materials. The company intends to produce the new parts using less material and less energy consumption, whilst improving recyclability. 

Other research will include using the latest digital technologies in the aircraft’s flight control system and integrating sensors to increase autonomy and safety during flight phases such as take-off and landing.

PioneerLab is partially co-funded by the BMWK, the Federal German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Actions through its national research programme LuFo.