Eurocopter’s EC 135 is a very powerful lightweight twin-engine multipurpose helicopter and is operational worldwide. Over 680 have been delivered since the helicopter entered service in 1996 with German Air rescue company Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht and the helicopter is flown by over 100 customers in 27 countries. A military version, the EC 635, has also been developed and has entered service with the Royal Jordanian Air Force.

The German Army Air Corps has been operating 14 EC 135 helicopters for training since 2000. Other customers include: Czech Police Aviation Department (eight), Ministry of Interior of Romania (five police and EMS), Air Methods (ten), CJ Systems Aviation Group (ten), Irish Air Corps (two), OAMTC Air Ambulance (25), PHI Air Medical Division (20), Era Helicopters.

“The EC 135 helicopter is flown by over 100 customers in 27 countries.”

Recent orders include five for the French Customs Service (ordered in December 2005), two for the Lithuanian Border Guard (delivered in December 2006), two for the Swiss Army for VIP transport (ordered in April 2006) and four for INAER (ordered in September 2006).

In November 2003, Eurocopter signed an agreement with Eurocopter Romania (a joint venture with IAR) for local assembly of the EC 135 in Brasov.

In March 2006, the Spanish Ministry of the Interior selected the EC 135 to upgrade the fleets of the Spanish police and security forces. 48 helicopters are required. The helicopters are being locally assembled at Eurocopter Espana’s Albacete site and the first locally assembled helicopter was delivered in November 2008.

In January 2007, the French Gendarmerie placed an order for 37 EC 135 helicopters to be delivered from late 2008.

In October 2007 the Austrian police ordered eight and, in November 2007, the Netherlands Police ordered six EC135.

In June 2008, the Polish Ministry of Health placed an order for 23 EC 135 helicopters to be delivered from 2009–2010.

The helicopter is available as the EC 135T2, powered by the Turbomeca ARRIUS 2B2 engine or the EC 135P2, powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW206B2. The EC 135 can be configured for passenger and VIP transport with up to eight seats, law enforcement, emergency medical service, search and rescue and other roles.

EC135 T2I/P2I upgrade

In February 2006, Eurocopter announced a major upgrade for the EC135. The new helicopter, designated EC135 T2i/P2i, has an increased take-off weight of 2,910kg and a reduced empty weight of 1,445kg, allowing a payload increase of 80kg.

“Eurocopter have announced a major upgrade for the EC135 – the EC135 T2I/P2I.”

This increased useful load translates to either one additional passenger, more fuel for 100km extra range or 30 minutes more endurance. Other improvements include an additional 180kg in hover weight and 2,000ft in hover altitude.

The new helicopter received EASA certification in February 2006 and deliveries begin in September 2006. The upgrade is also available as a retrofit.

Eurocopter design

The helicopter incorporates Eurocopter’s low-noise patented Fenestron tail rotor. The array of ten blades in the Fenestron are arranged asymmetrically and are spaced at different intervals which substantially reduces the helicopter noise.

The four-bladed, bearingless, main rotor system is made of fibre-reinforced composite. The built-in anti-resonance isolation system also contributes to low vibration and noise level. The external noise level is 6dB lower than the regulatory specification and allows the operation of the helicopter in highly populated areas and in close approach to hospitals.

EC-135 law enforcement helicopter

Police and federal versions of the EC 135 are operational with the Basque Police Force of Spain, the Federal Border Police of Germany, State (Lander) Police of Bavaria and Saxony in Germany, Travis County Police in USA and police forces in Sweden, Ireland, Kuwait, Chile, Kuwait and the UK. The helicopters are used for patrol, airborne surveillance, VIP and dignitary transport and firefighting.

McAlpine Helicopters based in Oxford, UK, outfits the helicopters with police operations equipment and systems to meet the police force mission requirements. A typical equipment fit includes an under-fuselage surveillance pod with night and day channels, forward-looking infrared, a multi-sensor turret, SX-16 searchlights, a loudspeaker address system, secure communications with a microwave voice and data downlink, load hook, a rescue hoist and rapid-change medical evacuation suite. Rappelling systems and wire strike protection are also offered as options.

EC 135 is a very powerful lightweight twin-engine multipurpose helicopter.”

Television and video systems can be installed in the cabin. Cabin doors and viewing windows suitable for surveillance operations can be fitted.

SAR and EMS variants

Search and rescue versions and emergency medical service helicopters are operated by Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht (German Air Rescue Service), German Emergency Medical Service, Centre for Emergency Medicine of Pittsburgh, USA, ADAC Luftrettung, CJ Systems and others.

The Emergency Medical Service helicopter can be flown by one or two pilots. The helicopter can carry one or two stretcher patients and up to three doctors and medical attendants. Different medical installations are tailored to the operating organisation’s need.

Loading and unloading is carried out quickly and easily through the extra large sliding doors and the rear clamshell doors. In winching operations, the patient is readily and safely transferred into the hovering helicopter. A combination of an externally mounted load mirror and a backed-up double hook system is installed to ensure safe and secure rescue missions for the patient, flight and medical crew.

Passenger and VIP helicopter

The standard version carries the pilot and six or seven passengers. The VIP / executive version is fitted for four or five VIP passengers. The cabin is fitted with large sliding doors for easy boarding and exit.

Baggage and cargo can be loaded through the rear clamshell doors.

EC 135 cockpit

The helicopter is equipped with a Thales SMD45 dual screen vehicle and engine management system, Honeywell Gold Crown and Thales Avionique Nouvelle avionics, an air data computer, a SFIM automatic flight control system, a global positioning system and a Honeywell combined flight data and cockpit voice recorder. A colour weather radar can be fitted.

“Eurocopter offers a choice of two engine types for the
EC 135.”

EC 135 helicopters of the German Federal Border Guard are being fitted with the EADS Dornier Hellas helicopter warning system. Hellas is based on a laser radar and received certification in Germany in October 2003. The first Hellas-equipped helicopter was delivered in March 2007. Czech Police helicopters have been fitted with EADS / Dornier DKG4 moving map system.

Engine choice

Eurocopter offers a choice of two engine types for the EC 135, both types equipped with full authority digital engine control (FADEC). The FADEC system provides enhanced performance, engine protection and power plant monitoring. The engines available are the Turbomeca Arrius 2B2 rated at 426kW continuous power and the Pratt and Whitney Canada PW206B2 rated at 419kW continuous power.

The standard fuel tanks have a capacity of 673l which gives a range of 620km. An additional long-range fuel tank can be fitted as an option which extends the range to 880km.