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Cold-weather tests for chopper
Crews use frigid temperatures in NWT capital to check for cold weather capability

Erin Steele
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 10, 2014

A helicopter that was originally supposed to be cold-weather tested in Iqaluit is currently enduring sub-zero temperature-testing in Yellowknife. This follows testing earlier this year of an air bus by a related company in Nunavut's capital.

NNSL photo/graphic

Olivier Gensee, left, Michel Oswald, Patrick Simon and Philippe Braca are among a team of 11 people in Yellowknife from France to perform cold weather testing on a EC175 helicopter. The helicopter is currently certified to -15 C, but the crew hopes to receive certification for -40 C. The testing was originally supposed to happen in Iqaluit. Earlier this year an Airbus jet owned by a related company to Airbus Helicopters was cold-weather tested in Iqaluit. - Erin Steele/NNSL photo

The prototype EC175 chopper in Yellowknife has already received certification for -15 C but the crew is aiming to extend that to -40 C.

"We park the helicopter outside for at least 10 hours, and then see if it starts," said Olivier Gensse, who is the aircraft's pilot and part of an 11-person team from France to perform the testing. If the craft starts, the crew performs a test flight in which everything is recorded and then analyzed.

"We test it in the worst conditions," said Gensee.

He added there is nothing to specifically in place keep the oil or fuel from freezing in such temperatures, though the testing could alert the company - Air Bus Helicopters - to such a need.

Aside from the crew, the team includes a representative of EASA, which is the French equivalent to Transport Canada, who performs the certification.

Airbus Helicopters sells their choppers to customers all over the world. This particular one, according to Gensee, is a 16-seater most often sold to companies that use it to travel to offshore oil rigs, he says.

The ideal helicopter would be certified from -40 C to 50 C, Gensse said, and there is equivalent hot-air testing performed in much

warmer places.

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