Airbus Helicopters Southern Africa (AHZA) on 23 June in Windhoek delivered a new H125 helicopter to Namibia’s Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, which will use it for environmental patrols.
Airbus Helicopters said the aircraft was ordered in August 2015 and has been customized for day and night time operations, enabling it to fly anti-poaching and other missions. Custom equipment includes an SX Nightsun light for night-time flights and a cargo swing so that large animals and other items can be carried.
In typical operations, the H125 will be flown by a pilot and able to carry up to five passengers on flights of up to four and a half hours or over a distance of approximately 630 kilometres.
Poaching has been on the increase in Namibia, with 80 rhinos poached in the country in 2015, according to figures released by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. One rhinoceros was poached in 2009, one in 2010 and one in 2011. Two were killed in 2012, four in 2013, and 25 in 2014.
With the latest delivery, the Namibian Government becomes the latest H125 customer and operator, Airbus Helicopters said in a statement.
AHZA assembled the new helicopter at its Grand Central, Midrand base near Johannesburg, South Africa. The Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism’s pilot was also trained at AHZA and was among the first to make use of the company’s new AS350/H125 helicopter flight simulator, which was recently commissioned.
The H125 (previously known as the AS350) is a member of Airbus Helicopters’ Ecureuil (Squirrel) family. Some 5,000 single-engine Ecureuils have been delivered in more than 100 countries for some 1,600 operators. Of these, more than 170 are flown by African operators. The worldwide fleet has accumulated more than 23 million flight hours.
Namibia is a repeat Eurocopter/Airbus Helicopters customer and has bought its rotorcraft for other law enforcement agencies. On 20 September 2012, Namibia’s Police Force (NAMPOL) took delivery of a new EC145 (now H145) helicopter. Namibia’s Ministry of Safety & Security ordered the twin-engined multi-mission helicopter in 2011 to complement NAMPOL’s existing fleet of two single-engine AS350B3 helicopters. The Namibia Police Air Wing was established in 2009.
The multi-mission EC145 can be flown by one or two pilots and carries up to nine passengers. It is powered by two Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 engines, giving a cruise speed of 135 kts (approx. 250km/h) and an endurance of up to 3.5 flight hours. It also features a night vision goggle-compatible glass cockpit enabling operations in poor visibility conditions. Its digital autopilot allows for either single or dual pilot missions.