Protecting the environment

Eurocopter gives high priority to environmental protection, both during the manufacture of its helicopters and throughout their service life.

© Eurocopter/P. Penna
By calculating the optimum trajectory, new, smart assistance systems enable a pilot to land an aircraft in a manner that limits noise levels to the strict minimum.

“We have a considerable number of projects in progress at the moment that aim to reduce emissions of CO2 and NOX in anticipation of future environmental regulations. We are doing everything we can to meet our self-imposed objectives in this context, preferably in advance of the target date of 2020. These projects will also enable us to reduce helicopter operating costs. But another equally important aspect is the need to improve the helicopter’s image in the eyes of the general public, particularly with respect to noise pollution,” relates Andreas Schwer, the manager in charge of Eurocopter’s development activities in Germany. The main focus of these efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions lies on optimising rotor design and reducing drag and aircraft weight. At the same time, the engine manufacturers who work in partnership with the Group are developing new products designed to combine improved performance and low emission levels. The methods adopted by Eurocopter to reduce noise levels involve both tackling the problem at its source and modifying the approach strategy: by calculating the optimum trajectory, new, smart assistance systems enable a pilot to land an aircraft in a manner that limits noise levels to the strict minimum. Adaptive rotor systems are being studied to attenuate the noise generated by the blades. For several years now, Eurocopter research engineers have been developing a new type of blade equipped with servo-flaps that suppress noise and reduce vibrations. “The servo-flaps are actuated by means of piezoelectric materials which induce an oscillating movement in the blades around their longitudinal axis. This oscillation disperses the vortices generated at the tips of the blades, which are the principal cause of the beating sound produced in descending flight, known as blade-vortex interaction noise,” explains project leader Valentin Klöppel. The steps taken to improve manufacturing processes include the use of ecologically sound materials and lowemission processes, optimising processes to reduce the consumption of primary energy resources, and devising ways of prolonging maintenance cycles in order to reduce the consumption of materials throughout the aircraft’s life cycle.



Every year, the American Helicopter Society (AHS) awards a prize to teams of students and graduates in the United States. This prize is sponsored by a helicopter manufacturer that helps to define the theme and select the winners. The subject chosen by Eurocopter for 2008 is “SMART-COPTER: Minimizing Energy Consumption”. The winners will be chosen according to such criteria as the technical content, the project’s organisation and presentation, the originality of the concept, and its application and feasibility. The final projects must be handed in by 1 June, and the winners will be announced at the end of August. They will present their project during the AHS forum in 2009.