Technology keeps pushing the limits of human exploration, giving us the chance to reach places quickly that usually takes forever to get to.
One such feat was recently accomplished by Airbus's H145 helicopter - it set the record for highest altitude landing with a twin-engine helicopter on the Andes at 6 962 metres about sea level.
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The new version of the H145 set it sights on Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, for this stunt that helped showcase the amazing performance of this beast of a machine. In preparation for the flight, the H145 was tested in Finland to see what impact cold weather had on the aircraft.
The conditions in the Andes for this mission were extreme, due to the atmospheric conditions in the area and the winter season. The aircraft took off from Mendoza, Argentina, flew for 30 minutes to the foot of the Aconcagua where it began its ascension. After 15 minutes of climbing, the helicopter landed at 13:45 on the summit, at a temperature of -22ºC.
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The crew onboard the helicopter consisted of Alexander Neuhaus, experimental test pilot and Antoine van Gent, experimental flight test engineer.
“We had to stay focused on the mission due to severe winds with gusts of up to 30 knots and the low air density. The handling qualities of the new H145 are excellent and combined with Helionix and its four axis-autopilot, we reached the summit safely,” said Neuhaus.
“The aircraft performed outstandingly. We flew over the summit of the Aconcagua and still had power reserves that would have allowed us to take two people onboard.”
Previously, a single-engine H125 managed to land on top of the highest mountain in the world - Everest - in 2005.
In this upgraded version, a new five-bladed rotor was added to the multi-mission H145, increasing the useful load of the helicopter by 150kg. The simplicity of the new bearingless main rotor design will also ease maintenance operations, further improving the benchmark serviceability and reliability of the H145, while improving ride comfort for both passengers and crew.
ALSO WATCH: Dramatic ice falls of Argentina’s growing glaciers in Austral Andes
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