The EC725, a twin-engine helicopter
with a takeoff weight of 11 metric tons,
has been created to handle the most
Fourteen EC725s have been ordered by France: eight for the Army in the HUS(1) version and six for the Air Force (combat rescue version)(2).
Maneuverability and Power
“The EC725 is more than just an evolution – it represents a clean break from the Puma, which it has replaced for special operations and combat rescue missions,” explained the French pilots.
“It has remarkable self-defense features, can fly faster and farther than the Puma, and offers all-weather capabilities and a larger payload.”
The EC725, which can carry twenty passengers, is an imposing aircraft but seems to be much smaller. With a newly-designed five-blade rotor and two Turbomeca Makila 2A engines, it offers the maneuverability of a much lighter helicopter - but with much more power.
The other major advance of the EC725 is its phenomenal range. With 3750 liters of fuel onboard, it can fly for more than five hours. And this time can be practically doubled via in-flight refueling.
The flight limitations are then no longer fuel shortage but instead pilot fatigue. Full advantage is taken of the helicopter’s range thanks to an extremely complete array of navigation equipment.
“The flight crew always know where they are and where they’re going,” is the word received from Cazaux, where the Air Force’s EC725s are based. “We use a civil navigation system that has received additional military functions. This dual setup means that we can be fully integrated in the general air traffic. This is an important operating advantage, as was recently made clear during the deployment in Lebanon.” (see article).
Information is displayed on six large active matrix LCDs. A wide range of data can be displayed, such as engine parameters, navigation items, images obtained via FLIR(3), failure warnings and checklist pages.
And of course, the “fully EFIS” cockpit is completely compatible with night vision goggles (NVG).
For combat rescue missions, the EC725 has a multiple- frequency homing system: the flight crew selects a frequency and the helicopter adopts the heading toward the detected radio transmission.
It can also provide an identification code and the distance from the target, when appropriate. The estimated point of emission can be integrated in the digital mapping system, and the nose-mounted FLIR can even be slaved to the point, which is designated by its geographical coordinates.
The EC725 has received a great deal of praise for its rotor head/blade system, and also for the performances of its autopilot (AP), which according to the pilots is “truly exceptional for establishing and holding hover.
The stability we can obtain on all four axes is incredible. We can quickly arrive at a designated point, engage the AP for perfect hover flight, and as we carry out our mission nail down our hover altitude to the nearest foot. With a helicopter like this, you quickly become a perfectionist.”
In more mundane pursuits, the AP coupled with the aircraft’s navigation systems make it possible, for example, to perform ILS( 4 ) approaches without touching the controls. But what pilot would let the AP have all the fun flying such an excellent aircraft?