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May 1, 2016
  At Heli-Expo in March, I heard an interesting talk on an alternate recovery from vortex ring state (VRS) given by Robinson Helicopter’s Tim Tucker, who had written an article describing this method last fall (“Flying Through the Vortex,” September 2015, page 30). I was anxious to see his presentation explaining it. I guess the difference between flying and crashing is all relative...
April 1, 2016
James T. McKenna Recent business travel brought me face-to-face with a number of Europeans, who surprisingly had one driving question for me, which in sum was: “Donald Trump? Really?” The American spectacle of choosing this year’s Republican Party presidential candidate fascinates and mystifies them. In seeking to explain the U.S.’s hottest new reality show, I recalled my long-ago...
April 1, 2016
Have We Failed? This is in response to your cover story on the International Helicopter Safety Team ( “After 10 Years, Have We Failed?” February 2016, page 32). After 24 years flying helicopters, I was pushed out of a company for predicting an accident two years before it occurred. The reason I was to be fired, my manager at the time said, was that I “need some mental health...
April 1, 2016
  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 Assn., Helicopter Assn. International and AHS International. He has completed aircraft accident investigator courses of the U.S...
April 1, 2016
The U.S. Marine Corps’ evolving use of the tiltrotor is recasting how Pentagon planners think about  vertical lift and speed. When the V-22 Osprey went into development back in 1982, U.S. Marine Corps leaders felt they needed the helicopter-airplane hybrid tiltrotor primarily to launch amphibious assaults from well over the horizon rather than within anti-ship missile range. Critics contended...
April 1, 2016
U.S. and French special forces perform air-to-water qualification training with a French army SA330 Puma near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti in 2013. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Defense Dept. Years of counterterrorism and nation-building operations in Africa’s Sahel region have honed the French army air corps’ combat tactics and multinational operational skills and its ability (and that of Airbus...
April 1, 2016
In addition to the challenges of its operational tempo and staffing, the German military has faced cost and schedule problems with its Tigers and NH90s.  Photo courtesy of Airbus Helicopters German leaders are working toward a decision this month on how to best bolster military forces that face steady demand to support multinational peacekeeping and counter-terrorism missions and counter possible...
April 1, 2016
Photo courtesy of Heli-One Civil and military helicopter cockpits can get crowded with the addition of more avionics systems, and that crowding in the limited real estate behind an instrument panel combined with limited airflow can cause overheating. Contributing to the issue is the growing use of software-centric systems in rotorcraft. The problem of avionics overheating is not widespread. But instances...
April 1, 2016
  An AS532 Cougar with the Royal Netherlands Air Force works to extinguish a fire during a training exercise in the Netherlands. Photo by Wim Das Unpredictability is a fact of life in fighting wildland fires. The number and scope of fires in any given year depend on many variables, from snowpack, seasonal winds and rainfall to the amount of dead wood on the ground and the sites and scope of past...
April 1, 2016
This year’s Mission Solutions Summit will be held in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of the Georgia World Congress Center Many of you will be reading this as you prepare to head off to Quad A’s 2016 Mission Solutions Summit in Atlanta. For those of you preparing to transition into the civilian workforce, the annual gathering of the Army Aviation Assn. of America (as the group is formally known) will be...
April 1, 2016
  Imagine you are on a return flight to a southern U.S. airport in the summer when you find yourself in unforecasted thunderstorms. Lightning strikes directly in front of you. You fly into a wall of rain so hard that the sound inside the helicopter is deafening. Visibility drops to zero. You slow the aircraft, and feel its left rear pull down. The tail boom is shaking it like a rag doll. As your...
April 1, 2016
  Helideck may be a simple term for a place to land and park a helicopter when operating offshore, but it’s actually not so simple. It is and has been a very complicated and multi-faceted problem that has been with the industry since the first flight to a rig just a few miles offshore some 70 years ago. The earliest problem was space for rotor clearance on an open deck. Not too big a problem...
April 1, 2016
  You might be familiar with “the tail wagging the dog” situations. But the new century has seemed to usher in an emergency medical service (EMS) helicopter era in which an amazing array of miscellaneous business and ancillary elements is assigned strikingly counterproductive priority over legitimately safe flight operations. My own history with EMS helicopters includes many years of...
April 1, 2016
Growth of the civil helicopter fleet in Greater China is slowing as its main economy lags, the oil market slumps and airspace challenges drag down operations. Another drag on growth is the expected depreciation in value of China’s currency, the renminbi. That sums up the latest assessment of the market by Asian Sky Group Ltd. in its 2015 Fleet Report on civil helicopters in the Asia Pacific area...
April 1, 2016
  Blue Sky Network SkyRouter 3 Blue Sky Network has released a new version of its web portal—SkyRouter. SkyRouter 3 is a fleet management software that supports the monitoring of globally dispersed and critical assets. The latest version provides customization of maps, alerts, sounds, filters and reports to streamlined Geofencing functions. Now running under Google maps, operators have access to...
March 25, 2016
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. has made improvements to its Dhruv after a spate of crashes involving the units sold to Ecuador, The Financial Express reported today, citing the government.   The government acknowledged “the problems that have dogged the aircraft maker and strained...
March 1, 2016
  One might argue that Heli-Expo marks the beginning of the business year for the rotorcraft industry. Other events come earlier in the New Year, certainly. But HAI’s annual gathering is arguably the largest all-helicopter trade show in the world. It does tend to focus the mind of rotorcraft executives on what their key initiatives will be in 10 months to come after the leisurely weeks of the...
March 1, 2016
After 10 Years, Have We Failed? Regarding your February cover story on the International Helicopter Safety Team and its goal of an 80% cut in helicopter accidents, I’d say corrective action depends on the cause. Pilot error, give pilots more training and more flight time especially. Mechanical malfunction, either improve maintenance procedures, maintainers or maintenance training, or get better/newer...
March 1, 2016
An aircraft arriving for unscheduled repairs could throw an MRO off balance if it arrives to a hangar full of scheduled work. RSG Aviation, Inc. of Forth Worth, Texas, tries to save room for such scenarios. Photo courtesy of Keith Moreland / RSG Aviation, Inc. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark. The thrust of that proverb is simply that you should plan far in advance of potential trouble...
March 1, 2016
Helicopter OEMs will need to implement various safety technologies by 2020. Photos courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, Heli Tirol and Erickson Inc. Over the last year, the FAA has actively engaged with the industry to address avionics issues associated with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and other avionics concerns as part of its NextGen airspace modernization program. But, is the agency...
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