It’s long been the goal of rotary-wing aviation companies looking to get a lock on the most lucrative end of the market and design a helicopter that can equal the business jet experience, in all respects. With the new ACH160, and in particular its ACH Exclusive edition, Airbus, the premier global aerospace corporation, has hit the mark.
Innovation is built into the DNA of the ACH160, which can transport from four to ten passengers in pure luxury, with a myriad of configuration and customization options. Airbus took out no fewer than 68 patents for this single helicopter, which was created in collaboration with award-winning UK superyacht design studio Harrison Eidsgaard.
The starting price for the ACH160 in basic trim is about $14 million; but the sky is literally the limit for those who want truly one-of-a-kind whirlybirds. With U.S. deliveries due to begin later this year, it’s the most important aircraft to be launched under the Airbus Corporate Helicopters banner, which the company debuted last year.
Its Blue Edge five-bladed main rotor and an additional canted Fenestron rotor, are paired with state-of-the-art Safran turboshaft engines delivering a cruising speed of 172.6 mph and a range of 512 miles, for an unparalleled flying experience along with fuel efficiency and low noise levels.
“The ACH160 is our newest helicopter, and is set to be the reference for innovation, comfort and style in the skies,” Frederic Lemos, head of Airbus Corporate Helicopters, tells Maxim. “Designed for a remarkable flight experience, the ACH160 combines a sleek, agile and modern airframe with the highest levels of comfort, versatile interior configurations and attention to detail—making it the right fit for any adventure you’re ready to take it on…. A few billionaires are already designing their future superyachts with a certified helideck to accommodate an ACH160.”
Lemos says that the key word in private and business aviation these days is “flexibility,” with “some clients looking for the ultimate in luxury with the finest interior finishings, elegant styling and a roomy, comfortable cabin; while some need a first-class utility partner where they can carry their family, pets, mountain bikes, skis, and equipment and land in a faraway spot for a weekend retreat. The beauty of the ACH160 is that it’s the perfect vehicle for both such missions – from the ultimate VIP experience to the most versatile holiday tool.”
One could be forgiven for being distracted by the panoramic views the cabin offers by the sumptuous ACH160 Exclusive’s interiors, including hand-stitched leather upholstery, grain-matched veneers, and other woodwork with as many as eight coats of varnish. This level of bespoke craftsmanship may be common in the world of private jets, but it’s relatively new to the helicopter market. As Airbus says, the interior “offers everything but compromise.”
As Ben Bridge, Executive Vice President Global Business at Airbus Helicopters, puts it, the ACH160 is not only going to win the hearts and budgets of executives and VIPs, but will in fact “revolutionize the way our private and business aviation customers travel.”
This article originally appeared in the Nov/Dec 2021 issue of Maxim.