HH-65 Dolphin helicopter: Aircraft profile
The HH-65 has been the Coast Guard's most prolific multi-mission aircraft for over 20 years. The HH-65 Dolphin is a twin-engined, single main rotor, MEDEVAC-capable, Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter operated by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). It is a variant of the French-built Eurocopter Dauphin.
The SA366 G1 Dauphin version was selected by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in 1979 as its new short range recovery (SRR) air-sea rescue helicopter, replacing the Sikorsky HH-52A Sea Guard. In total 99 helicopters, optimised for the USCG's search and rescue role tasks and given the designation HH-65A Dolphin, were acquired. The HH-65A is not able to perform water landings. The HH-65 normally carries a crew of four: Pilot, Copilot, Flight Mechanic and Rescue Swimmer.
The Dolphin was manufactured by Aerospatiale Helicopter Corporation in Grand Prairie, Texas (now American Eurocopter). Textron Lycoming (now Honeywell) built the Dolphin's LTS101-750B-2 turboshaft engines in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and Rockwell Collins manufactured the HH-65's electronic systems in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The HH-65 Dolphin is used for homeland security patrols, cargo, drug interdiction, ice breaking, military readiness, pollution control, and search and rescue missions. The HH-65 is known for its Fenestron tail rotor and its autopilot capabilities, which can complete an unaided approach to the water and bring the aircraft into a stable 50 ft hover, or automatically fly search patterns, an ability which allows the crew to engage in other tasks.
In order to comply with U.S. regulations relating to local content (based primarily on the value of individual components of the aircraft), engineering changes were required — notably, the SA365's original Turbomeca Arriel engines were replaced with LTS101-750B-2 powerplants, which at the time represented the cutting edge of turboshaft design. Unfortunately, initial teething problems with this engine worsened as the HH-65's weight grew, resulting in several in-flight loss-of-power events. The USCG funded a program to improve engine reliability, but the resulting LTS101-850 failed to meet expectations.
In 1994, the USCG therefore held a fast-track competition to select a new powerplant, and in March 2004 the Guard announced the selection of the Turbomeca Arriel 2C2-CG, already installed on the EC155. This upgrade began in 2004, and has resulted in a safer and more capable aircraft. These modified HH-65As and HH-65Bs, which also gained new avionics and other enhancements, have been designated as HH-65Cs.
The HH-65A's minimum equipment requirements exceeded anything previously packaged into one helicopter weighing in at less than 10,000 pounds. 75% of the HH-65's structure — including rotorhead, rotor blades and fuselage — consists of corrosion-resistant composite materials. Some Coast Guard pilots have nicknamed the Dolphin as "Tupperwolf", a reference to tupperware, because of the aircraft's high composites content.
Also a unique feature of the Dolphin is its computerized flight management system, which integrates state-of-the-art communications and navigation equipment. This system provides automatic flight control. At the pilot's direction, the system will bring the aircraft to a stable hover 50 feet above a selected object. This is an important safety feature in darkness or inclement weather. Selected search patterns can be flown automatically, freeing the pilot and copilot to concentrate on sighting & searching the object.
Certified for single-pilot instrument flight rules (IFR) operation, the HH-65A was the first helicopter certified with a four-axis autopilot, allowing for hands-off hover over a pre-determined location.
The Dolphin is primarily a Short Range Recovery (SRR) aircraft. There are now total of 102 Dolphins in the Coast Guard Fleet. The fleet has home ports in 17 cities on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, and the Great Lakes region.
The Dolphin is usually deployed from shore but it can be deployed from medium and high endurance Coast Guard Cutters, as well as the Polar Icebreakers. The Dolphin's main jobs are: search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties (including drug interdiction), polar ice breaking, marine environmental protection including pollution control, and military readiness.
When deployed from an icebreaker, the helicopter acts as the ship's eyes, searching out thinner and more navigable ice channels. They also have the job of airlifting supplies to villages isolated by winter, or transporting scientists to conduct remote research.
The HH-65C is also used to patrol the air defense identification zone (ADIZ) around Washington, DC, also known as the National Capital Region (NCR). Seven new-build HH-65Cs were acquired for this 'armed use of force' mission.
Initial USCG version, powered by two 734 shp LTS101-750B-2 turboshafts and with an 8,900 lb M.T.O.W.
Avionics upgrade undertaken on a portion of the fleet. Retrofit included an NVG-compatible integrated flight management avionics suite consisting of two GPS-embedded CDU-900G control display units and two MFD-255 multifunction flat panel displays. The HH-65B upgrade was undertaken at the Coast Guard’s Aircraft Repair and Supply Center (ARSC) in Elizabeth City, NC, with the first aircraft rolling-off the post-depot maintenance (PDM) line in March 2001.
HH-65A/B upgraded with new 934 shp Arriel 2C2-CG engines, plus an upgraded main gearbox, upgraded tail gearbox, long-nose avionics compartment, increased 9,480 lb M.T.O.W., expanded lateral flight envelope and Vehicle and Engine Multifunction Display (VEMD) with First Limit Indicator (FLI). First retrofit completed in October 2004.
Initially intended only for use by the Multi-Mission Cutter Helicopter (MCH), a further enhancement of the HH-65C within the USCG's Deepwater effort, which could include the installation of a flight deck recovery system, further transmission enhancements, 10-blade low-noise Fenestron, relocated avionics, enhanced fuel capacity, a digital autopilot, and an increased 10,000 lb M.T.O.W. The MH-65C designation is now also applied to HH-65Cs used in 'airborne use of force' missions, such as the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) mission taken-up by the MH-65C in early 2008. The HITRON aircraft are armed with the Barrett M107CQ 12.7mm anti-material rifle and M240B 7.62mm machine gun.
Data from United States Coast Guard
* Crew: 2 pilots and 2 crew
* Length: 44 ft 5 in (13.5 m)
* Rotor diameter: 39 ft 2 in (11.9 m)
* Height: 13 ft 6 in (4.1 m)
* Empty weight: 6,333 lb (2,872 kg)
* Max takeoff weight: 9,480 lb (4,300 kg)
* Powerplant: 1× 2 x Turbomeca Arriel 2C2-CG turboshafts, 934 shp (697 kW)
* Maximum speed: 160 kt, 184 mph (294 km/h)
* Range: 356 nm, 409 mi (659 km)
* Service ceiling 15,000 ft (4,573 m)
More photos: HH-65 Dolphin helicopter photo gallery
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