Technological differentiation as SENER’s strategic advantage - June 2014 - Number 47 /Up-to-Date

Upgraded AB212 of the Spanish Navy’s 3rd Squadron takes flight

The helicopter in its first test flight.

The helicopter in its first test flight.

Last December, the helicopter used as prototype in the AB212 Helicopter Life Extension Program of the Spanish Navy (PEVH-AB212) took to the air for its first test flight. It was the first in a series of tests approved by the INTA (Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology). This milestone caps off more than three years of concept development, led by the Spanish Navy, and executed by the SENER-INAER AB212 joint venture, in which SENER leads the design and integration process, and INAER Helicópteros SAU leads the installation and certification works at its prototype integration center located in Albacete, Spain.

Once the upgrade program is finalized, in 2015, their operating life will be extended beyond 2025. It is an ambitious program, and a pioneering project for the Spanish aircraft industry, to supply these aircrafts with the latest advances in engineering, in addition to an extensive use of plug-in technology which will enable rapid configuration of the helicopter to face new missions.

The SENER-INAER AB212 joint venture is currently offering other potential clients upgrade services for helicopters of this type or similar models.

An ambitious life extension program

Involving complex design, installation, integration and certification tasks, this is the first program to tackle an upgrade of this scope on helicopters of this type; not only did it involve replacement of the aircraft’s electrical system, but also the full substitution of the outdated analog avionics with a fully digital cabin concept, developed specifically for this project in keeping with Navy specifications and after close collaboration with the same body. The new cabin system incorporates all flight, navigation and engine parameter indicators, all displayed using an electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) containing four digital screens measuring 6X8 inches and which allow for different configurations according to the needs of the crew. Besides, a new air data computer (ADC) has been added, as well as an attitude and heading reference system (AHRS). This work also included the replacement of the V/UHF communications and ICS systems with the latest generation devices.

The project includes cutting-edge technology mission systems which the old helicopters lacked, such as: a new radar system for marine and meteorological information; an electro-optical / infrared designer (EO/IR) surveillance system; an automatic identification system (AIS) transceiver for tracking ships; a GPS moving map system and a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS). A tactical mission controller (TMC) will integrate all signals from these systems and display them on the screens of the EFIS.

In addition to all of the above, the upgrade project will also include the integration of mission and self-protection systems to enable the helicopter to adapt to the various roles assigned to it by the Navy. This new version will feature a crane, modifications to the auxiliary fuel tanks, a missile approach warning system (MAWS), a ballistic protection system in the flight and passenger cabin, armored and anti-crash seats for the crew, and defense weapon systems.


Professionals from the Spanish Navy SENER and INAER during the test flights.   AB212 digital cabin.

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