ACH135 Helicopters and Hearts flying high in the sky
by Kay Hare
I was invited to the upper deck of the Yacht Club Monaco (YCM) for the launch of the ACH135, newly equipped with Airbus Helicopters’ advanced avionics suite: Helionix. As crowds were arriving in full force for the Monaco Yacht Show on ground level, it all felt a little quieter from the wooden, flower-decked helicopter area of the YCM. With fantastic views, not just of the port harbouring some of the finest superyachts in the world, but also the stunning views of Monaco and the backdrop of the Mont Agel mountains.
The ACH135 really does belong in the super category. Sitting in the pristine leather pilots’ seat I have lost my desire for cars. This is definitely a game changer not just for private and business clients but in particular the yacht market. The helicopter has two engines, perfect to comply with regulations in force restricting flying in urban areas all over the world. With speeds of up to 140kts and a state of the art control panel that gives the efficiency and confidence that this machine could almost fly itself.
We have come a long way since Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings in the early 1480’s but the first references of vertical flight were from China 400bc. Chinese children played with bamboo flying toys that spun on a rolling stick attached to a rotor. The toy would fly as the spinning created a lift, a ‘bamboo coptor’. The 4th Century Daoist book by Ge Hong, Baopuzi reportedly describes ideas similar to the rotary wing aircraft. References similar to the Chinese helicopter also appear in Renaissance paintings and other works.
Today the ACH135 raises the bar with Helionix technology and minimalist, de-cluttered controls. Safety is at the heart of the design while simultaneously decreasing the pilot’s workload. The exterior is a sleek matt dark blue and white, embracing the shrouded tail rotor which reduces noise levels making it the quietest helicopter in its class. The business interior of this new aircraft is an ice cream soft, vanilla, creamy leather. Created by ACH’s in-house design team, the comfortable yet lightweight and sports car-inspired customised trim comes in various options under the company’s ACH Line offering.
There is plenty of space inside with five seats at the back and two up front which can accommodate six passengers plus pilot and an intelligent storage space at the rear for luggage and sports equipment. It has a unique compact footprint compared to other helicopters in its category which allows access to restricted and exclusive areas especially on the French Riviera with skids allowing landing in unprepared rural and wild areas.
A new design with mature features makes it fast and easy to maintain ensuring optimal dispatch reliability and lower operating costs thus making it one of the lowest twin-engine helicopters to operate. More importantly, the low maintenance requirements make it ideal for yacht-based operations, especially when at sea and far from a certified support centre.
The launch of the new ACH135 took place during the Monaco Yacht Show, the annual event drawing the finest sailing and superyacht community in the world. The handover to its first customer was supported with the Royal Air Force aerobatics team, the Red Arrows who, for over 20 minutes, flew daring and beautiful manoeuvres in blue and red circles, bubbles, knots and twists in the sky above Monaco. I was mesmerised with the heart and the arrow that flew through at the end.
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Credits to: Instagram: mesi_beaucoup & Lorette Fabre