European manufacturer Airbus has announced the successful maiden flight test of Japan-based All Nippon Helicopter’s (ANH) H160 aircraft.

Conducted at Marseille Provence Airport, the H160 helicopter remained airborne for 95 minutes. The flight test marks a step forward for its entry into service in Japan.

This H160 will replace one of the six AS365s from ANH’s helicopter fleet.

Besides AS365s, the operator also has five H135s that are used collecting electronic news for the TV stations across Japan.

Prior to entering service, the aircraft will undergo various modifications, including installation of specialised equipment and customisation, at Airbus Helicopters’ Kobe facility.

ANH president Jun Yanagawa said: “We are delighted to see the successful inaugural flight of Japan’s very first H160, and we are looking forward to this next-generation helicopter playing an important role in our nationwide missions.

“Since the introduction of the AS365 helicopter three decades ago, the requirements of the electronic newsgathering market is constantly evolving and has significantly improved. This state-of-the-art helicopter H160 is a timely welcome for our operations.”

Built with Airbus’ latest technological innovations, the H160 can perform various missions, including offshore transportation, emergency medical services, private and business aviation, as well as public services.

The aircraft has already secured type certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

It is expected to obtain certification from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) early this year.

Airbus Helicopters Japan managing director Guillaume Leprince said: “This successful first flight is particularly meaningful during this unprecedented time for the industry. We thank our customer and the teams involved for devoting maximum efforts into this achievement. We will continue to provide our utmost support and ensure a smooth delivery to ANH.”