The first transmission kit for Airbus’ new generation of helicopters has been delivered by Avio Aero, a GE Aviation business.
Nearly a year ago, the first prototype for the H160, the first helicopter in the new chapter of Airbus Helicopters, began flight tests to confirm the ambitious goals of stability, low vibration levels and acoustic emissions that Airbus Helicopters set out to ensure.
This past July, Avio Aero began its contribution to the success of Airbus Helicopters’ newest creation by delivering the first kit of Accessory Gearboxes, for which Avio Aero is responsible.
The kit was completely manufactured at Avio Aero’s Rivalta plant, and consists of the Front Accessory Gearbox (FAGB) and Right & Left Hand Accessory Gearboxes, as well as a series of accessory gears to complete the installation on the helicopter’s main transmission, the Main Gearbox, located right below the aircraft’s blades.
Over 60 people contributed to the program’s success, mainly from the Transmissions center of excellence in Rivalta. Additionally, skilled workers from several Avio Aero suppliers worked in synergy, contributing to the main components for the first module.
The Accessory Gearbox components required careful studies and high-tech manufacturing: “These are components that need special care in creating some of the requirements, such as races for bearings integrated on small spur gears, superfinishing gear teeth, anti-corrosion surfacing, machining housing from plates (made externally), that go beyond Avio Aero’s normal standards, and this is why they were particularly challenging,” commented Dario Fantini, Avio Aero’s advanced manufacturing specialist.
The challenges that await the Avio Aero team who are busy with the new components for the Airbus Helicopters are not over yet: indeed, Avio Aero is expecting the qualifications, shortly, for their special processes used for the H160, which are a key element for maintaining the performances required by the program, and which will be the basis for future collaborations in other programs.
This program is a key point in Avio Aero’s strategy for growth in the helicopter market, and a milestone in the now historic collaboration between Avio Aero and Airbus Helicopters, whose partnerships span back to the 1960s.