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October 1, 2015
  I once had the honor of talking to a former World War II fighter pilot assigned to the famous 332nd Fighter Group, better known as the Tuskegee Airmen, the only unit that never lost an escorted aircraft to enemy attack. The gentleman regaled me with the story of one of his most memorable missions. He said he and his group were homebound with a flight of bombers under escort when a speck was spotted...
October 1, 2015
  Vibration analysis on rotorcraft blades isn’t easy. Helicopter engineers go through great lengths to ensure each blade is nearly identical in shape, weight distribution and stiffness. Although they seem to whiz around rigidly, blades actually are quite flexible. It’s important that none of their frequencies are in resonance with airframe components. This is a difficult task since each...
October 1, 2015
  A moderately wise helicopter pilot once proclaimed that it is better to dress to avoid an accident than to survive one. This postulation brings to mind a rough approximation of a quandary I originally appreciated in the 1970s as Ralph Nader declared Chevrolet’s Corvair unsafe at any speed. He suggested that cars from that time forward be made crashworthy, rather than have designers plan...
September 23, 2015
  In the late 1990s, I had an unusual opportunity. I was invited—as the safety reporter for a major aerospace trade magazine—to shadow the FAA administrator. For five days, from shortly after the administrator, Jane Garvey, left her Washington, D.C., apartment for the early-morning, four-block trip to 800 Independence Avenue until the day’s end, I was at her side. I sat in on...
September 1, 2015
The worst of Katrina’s effects hit on the hurricane’s east side, along the Mississippi and Alabama coasts. Much of the damage in New Orleans came from surging waters pushed by Katrina and floods from failed levees. Photo courtesy of U.S. Defense Dept. You can’t say no one saw it one coming. Even as the tropical depression passed over the southern Bahamas Islands on Aug. 23, 2005, more...
September 1, 2015
The number of rotor blades, rotor rpm and rotor diameter have little effect on formation of the vortex ring state, but aircraft with higher disk loading and increased blade twist are more susceptible to it. Photos courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps, Airbus Helicopters (below, top) and Robinson Helicopter (below, bottom). On Aug. 23, 2013, a Eurocopter AS332 with 18 persons on board was on the final stage of...
September 1, 2015
Modern avionics like the Garmin G1000H flight deck in Bell Helicopter’s 407GXP are designed to provide a pilot with critical flight information at a glance for greater situational awareness and safety. Photo courtesy of Bell The desire for safety enhancements and consumer electronics-like capabilities in aircraft is what will drive helicopter owners and operators to buy new avionics in the near...
September 1, 2015
A camera mounted on a DJI Phantom (superimposed here) took this nighttime photo from a height of 150 ft. Such small UAS capabilities concern privacy advocates. Photos by Mark Colborn When a vacationing 39-year-old California man flew a Parrot Bebop Drone 100 ft above Washington’s Lafayette Park May 14, the U.S. capital took notice. The park, a popular spot for protesters, is directly across...
September 1, 2015
An AgustaWestland AW101 (VVIP) outside London ExCeL on display in 2013. Photo courtesy of Reed Exhibitions Helitech International will return to its ExCeL London venue in October with exhibitors from 20-plus countries and a conference and seminar program that will explore the prospects for growth in new technology and ongoing efforts to improve the safety of global rotorcraft operations. Organized by Reed...
September 1, 2015
A donated Agusta A109 GdiF variant, previously operated by Italy’s Guardia di Finanza. Photos courtesy of The Helicopter Museum The rotorcraft industry is, like all of aviation, forward-looking. Unless you count the early days of Chinese bamboo-copters and Leonardo da Vinci’s “aerial screw,” it’s also fairly young. But a lot has happened since Igor Sikorsky first coaxed the...
September 1, 2015
Airbus Helicopters’ EC145/H145 has proven itself a successful multi-mission competitor in both civil and military applications. Photo courtesy of Airbus Uncertain economic and political times like those that persist around the world today have many effects. When it comes to helicopters, such times sharpen the interest of operators—whether commercial firms, military services or public...
September 1, 2015
Question of the Month: What do the terms “power settling” and “settling with power” mean to you? Let us know, and look for responses in a future issue. You’ll find contact information below. Single-Engine IFR Your cover story, “Will Single IFR Ever Return?” ( R&WI, June 2015, page 22), makes clear that there are regulatory hurdles to certification of new...
September 1, 2015
  James T. McKenna An aviation journalist for more than 25 years, James T. McKenna served as R&WI’s editor-in-chief from 2003 to 2008. He then worked on communications projects for Bell Helicopter and numerous consulting clients, including the Aerospace Industries Association, Helicopter Association International and AHS International. He has completed aircraft accident investigator courses...
September 1, 2015
  My closest friends are aircraft mechanics. We all attended Aviation High School in New York City. That institution offered (and still offers) a full set of academic courses and FAA-approved airframe and powerplant training. The school turned a common love of aviation into an epoxy bond that made brothers of six boys from diverse backgrounds and far-flung neighborhoods. It has held us together...
September 1, 2015
  We have all heard the adage that ‘you can’t fight city hall,’ much less county or state government. But for owners of aircraft based at a government-owned airport, the good news is that you may not have to. Aircraft and business owners do not have to simply accept an airport manager’s orders that deny certain rights or opportunities. Often, frustrations or economic losses...
September 1, 2015
  I consult for a variety of companies that collectively have an array of products. These products range from A (avionics) to W (wash systems). Sorry, I haven’t come up with X, Y or Z yet, but I’m working on it. This diversity allows me to interact with many different facets of the helicopter community. Recently, I had the opportunity to be involved with ground support equipment that PHI...
September 1, 2015
  Passing through Germany on yet another trip to my favorite desert “vacation” spot, I met a fellow aviator who was as bored as I was. We struck up a conversation to shave a few moments off our long hours and soon realized our paths had crossed many times throughout the years. Within minutes, we had named some of the same people we’d crewed with, and within a few more we had traded...
August 1, 2015
By James T. McKenna jmckenna@accessintel.com The rules and procedures that the FAA uses to approve rotorcraft and new equipment that improves their safety and utility need overhauling. This fact is not news to many readers. Those of you who operate helicopters, build them, modify and complete them and support them—which is to say most of you—know this all too well. You deal again and again with...
August 1, 2015
Question of the Month: What parts of today’s certification rules and procedures need to be reformed? Let us know, and look for responses in a future issue. You’ll find contact information below. Regarding your new column for military veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce (“Cleared for Transition, Part 1: Introduction,” R&WI July 2015, page 50), I have some thoughts...
August 1, 2015
James T. McKenna An aviation journalist for more than 25 years, James T. McKenna served as R&WI’s editor-in-chief from 2003 to 2008. He then worked on communications projects for Bell Helicopter and numerous consulting clients, including the Aerospace Industries Association, Helicopter Association International and AHS International. He has completed aircraft accident investigator courses of the...
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