QinetiQ’s new Airbus H145
QinetiQ’s new Airbus H145. (QinetiQ)

QinetiQ, the UK global integrated defence and security company has invested in a new Airbus H145 helicopter to extend capabilities and operational efficiencies for the Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA) Range Helicopter Service that covers the Ministry of Defence (MoD) British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre (BUTEC) and Hebrides sites in North West Scotland.

The service provides a vital transport and supply line for critical MoD programmes including the Continuous At Sea Deterrent and the ferrying of key range operators to their remote locations on the Applecross peninsula, Rona island and St. Kilda. The introduction of a new aircraft for the service will extend service capabilities significantly and is expected to deliver considerable operational efficiencies.

Following the main assembly of the aircraft at the Airbus factory in Donauwörth in Germany, QinetiQ’s Air Test and Evaluation Capability team worked in partnership with Airbus Helicopters UK to undertake interim aircraft acceptance and complete a number of modifications and enhanced safety features. The additional specifications were required to meet the specific operational needs of the Range Helicopter Service.

Final preparations and testing are now underway to ensure the new aircraft meets all projected LTPA requirements prior to entry into service in late 2020.

The decision to invest in the new aircraft was the culmination of many months of assessment and planning within a cross-business project involving QinetiQ’s Air Range Modernisation programme team and the company’s (AT&EC) team based at Boscombe Down.

The LTPA Range Helicopter Service provides vital capability and supply lines for teams at extremely remote locations and has continued to grow in both scale and importance over the past two decades. Today, flying typically amount to 400 hours a year across 800 sorties, with reliability, resilience and flexibility all essential requirements of the service. During May the H145 successfully completed Interim Acceptance for both ground and flight checks at Airbus’s facility in Oxfordshire and as such, ownership of the helicopter has now transferred to QiinetiQ.

by David Oliver