Thales bets on China’s appetite for simulators

Haite Group, a Chinese company specializing in aviation services, recently inaugurated a flight training center in Tianjin featuring a Thales Reality H EC135 full flight helicopter simulator. Thales sees the delivery as the first in a long series to come.

Inside view of simulator
Thales expects Haite Group will order more simulators, and said they would support H135 fleet growth in the country. Thales Photo
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The center will be instrumental in meeting the increasing demand for helicopter pilot training in China, Thales said. In that instance, the Paris-based company’s role is only that of a supplier. But it has had a long relationship with Haite Group, Benoit Plantier, Thales vice president, training and simulation activities, said.

The simulator Haite Group has received sports Thales’ Hexaline electric motion system, for lower maintenance cost.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) certified it as a Level D simulator. “The CAAC’s requirements are similar to those of the European Aviation Safety Agency, but this was their first EC135 simulator so they want to understand in depth, they ask for more explanation and documents,” Plantier said.

Outside view of simulator
Thales has delivered the first EC135 simulator in China, where helicopter EMS activity is growing. Thales Photo

Thales expects Haite Group will order more simulators, and said they would support H135 fleet growth in the country.

Meanwhile, Airbus Helicopters is building its first final assembly line in China, and it will produce H135 light twins. The EC135 is the predecessor of the H135 so, for Haite Group, buying an H135 simulator was the next logical step.

China was the manufacturer’s first single market in 2016. The country is estimated to need thousands of civil helicopters over the next 20 years for applications such as emergency medical services, for which the EC135 and the H135 are well suited. Airbus Helicopters is claiming a 40 percent market share in China’s civil helicopter market, with 260 rotorcraft. The long-discussed deregulation of the lower airspace, needed for the helicopter industry to thrive, is beginning in earnest, according to Plantier.

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