Eurocopterâ€™s EC135 to enter service with the sea pilots at Franceâ€™s third largest port, Dunkirk
The sea pilots of Dunkirkâ€™s Grand Port Maritime will benefit from the reliability and safety of Eurocopterâ€™s EC135 when the twin-engine helicopter enters service at one of Franceâ€™s busiest port facilities.
With the EC135â€™s selection, Eurocopterâ€™s extensive experience in maritime support services has been recognized by the sea pilots of Dunkirk, who guide some 5,800 ships day and night every year â€“ 1,450 which are assisted by helicopter. Dunkirk is located on the North Sea near some of the worldâ€™s busiest shipping lanes, and the port has opted for the EC135 to continue offering optimum availability and top-notch safety to ships requiring their services.
This selection underlines the confidence of Dunkirkâ€™s Grand Port Maritime in Eurocopter helicopters since 1990, with the EC135 replacing an AS355 Ecureuil/AStar that first entered service at the facility in 2000.
â€œThe helicopter is a unique tool for our maritime pilots, as it can take over in situations where our ships can’t handle the mission and continue to ensure complete safety,â€ said Didier Payen, the head of Dunkirkâ€™s pilot station. â€œThe EC135 is perfectly suited to this type of mission. Its choice was based on the aircraftâ€™s performance; the feedback we share with Eurocopter and engine manufacturer Turbomeca; and the experience acquired by sea pilots at the port of Bordeaux, who have been using the EC135 for several years now.â€
When a ship arrives in the Dunkirk port area, the pilot station sends out an on-board pilot to guide the vessel to the portâ€™s entrance. Since 1990, nearly 35,000 ships have been served by helicopter, with 77 percent of them employing a hoist for the boarding process. By using a helicopter, the pilots can be transported more quickly to ships located further away than can be served by marine craft.
â€œThis delivery of Eurocopterâ€™s first EC135 to the Dunkirk Pilot Station underlines the increasing role played by our helicopters in shipping safety and service missions,â€ said Dominique Maudet, Eurocopter Executive Vice-President, Global Business and Services. â€œThey extend pilot capabilities at ports and contribute to smooth docking operations. We are proud to see our helicopters in use at three different French ports in operations that require reliable aircraft guaranteeing high-performance and safety.â€
The EC135 acquired by the sea pilots of Dunkirk is a transport version of the helicopter, equipped with a hoist and an integrated avionics system. The pilot station is staffed by 30 pilots, and also has the resources of five pilot boats and a radar station.
Eurocopterâ€™s EC135 is a reference in rotary-wing aircraft for its modernity and innovation. It is powered by two engines to meet international safety regulations, with a top speed of 254 km./hr. and an average range of 635 km.
The EC135 is an international success thanks to its easy handling, exceptional maneuverability and high availability of 98 percent. Its many features include a hingeless and bearingless rotor head and FenestronÂ® shrouded tail rotor, which drastically reduces sound and vibration levels. The external sound levels are nearly 7 dB below the threshold set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The EC135 also owes its success to low maintenance and operating costs as well as high durability. It offers extensive versatility, in particular for training, corporate transport. With the ability to perform long-range patrols covering wide areas, the EC135 is well suited for a diverse range of public safety missions.