"The Arrius 2B2 is a particularly reliable and easy-to-use engine"
Interview with Captain David M, Head of The Airworthiness Section of the National Gendarmerie Air Force (Forces Aérienne de la Gendarmerie Nationale, or FAGN).
Please introduce us to the National Gendarmerie Air Force. What are its missions and what helicopters do they use?
The National Gendarmerie operates a fleet of 56 helicopters: 26 AS350, 15 H135 and 15 EC145. The National Gendarmerie Air Force Command (CFAGN) employs the pilots, observers and mechanics required to maintain and deploy these aircraft.
Its missions are extremely diverse: maintaining public safety, security checks, road safety and mobility, crime detection, counter-terrorism and even high-altitude and coastal search-and-rescue.
How many flying hours or missions do you complete per year?
We carry out some 22,000 individual missions per year with a total flight time of 19,000 hours. On average an CFAGN air mission takes off every 20 minutes, day and night.
One of your helicopters is the Airbus H135, powered by our Arrius 2B2 engine. What are the characteristics and qualities of this helicopter? How does it integrate with other types in your fleet?
The only CFAGN helicopter equipped with an engine featuring a FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control), the H135 is a thoroughly capable machine. For the Gendarmerie it mostly investigates crimes, which is why it is usually equipped with a camera and searchlight. An optional hoist or fast-roping kit makes it particularly versatile. It complements the older but still capable AS350, as well as the EC145 which is a real asset thanks to its incomparable payload.
How does the Arrius 2B2 contribute to your missions? Are you satisfied with its performance and operational capability?
The Arrius 2B2 is a particularly reliable and easy-to-use engine that perfectly complements the mission requirements of the Gendarmerie’s H135.
What maintenance tasks do you perform on these engines?
We carry out all maintenance up to the 1,000-hour inspection.
How does Safran Helicopter Engines support you in your missions? Are you satisfied with our service?
Safran Helicopter Engines maintains our engines through a MCO (Maintenance Operational Condition) contract. It is a guaranteed availability contract with which public-service users in general, and the Gendarmerie in particular, are very satisfied. Thanks to its flat organizational structure (dedicated support takes into account our mission and organizational requirements), Safran Helicopter Engines is able to respond to all our technical and logistical requests.
What do you expect from a supplier like Safran Helicopter Engines?
As an end-user of engines designed and produced by Safran Helicopter Engines, we expect full availability and fast response, so that any problems we do encounter can be resolved as soon as possible. This is certainly the case today and long may it last!
The FAGN is the only air asset available to France’s domestic security forces
- Established in 1953
- A fleet of 56 helicopters and 32 drones, spread amongst 23 metropolitan and six overseas units
- 483 personnel
- On average a mission takes off every 20 minutes nationwide
- Available at five minutes notice during daylight and 30 minutes at night
On duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- Intelligence: maintaining public safety, security checks, road safety and mobility, crime detection, surveillance.
- Intervention: counter-terrorism and anti-illegal immigration, specialized interventions (RAID and GIGN tactical teams).
- Assistance: preserving life in challenging environments (mountains and sea).
- © Cyril Abad / CAPA Pictures / Safran