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Monday, May 1, 2006

Rotorcraft Report

U.S. Army Juggles LUH Schedule, Pushes Back Award

The U.S. Army has changed its delivery schedule for the Light Utility Helicopter from six aircraft planed for delivery in Fiscal 2006 to two, with 22 to be delivered in Fiscal 2007.

The service also has pushed back a decision on which manufacturing-and-support team will win the contract to produce the 322 Light Utility Helicopters from this month. Estimates vary of when the award may be made. Some Army leaders at last month's Army Aviation Assn. of America annual convention said the award would be made by June 30. The Army's program executive officer for aviation, Paul Bogosian, said the award would be made by the end of the fiscal year--Sept. 30. One thing is certain; the award cannot slip into Fiscal 2007 without the Army risking loss of its LUH funding.

"If anybody changes anything, then that money is gone," said Claude Bolton, assistant Army secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology.

With the delay in the contract award to later this year, the Army has shifted $70 million from LUH funding to support work in finding ways to counter improvised explosive devices (IED) that are a major cause of combat fatalities in Iraq.

The Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. Richard Cody, told attendees at the Quad A meeting in Nashville, Tenn. that "right now IEDs are the top priority for the (Defense Dept.)," but that there "should not be any concern, we are going to buy 322 LUHs and we will buy them on time and we have the money for it." Essentially, the movement of the $70 million is simply an accounting procedure, with the money being shuffled from the LUH program to IED countermeasures, then reallocated back to LUH when supplemental funds come in June or July. Cody said, "Once the contract's awarded, we'll take that money and put it back."

He also said that was done with the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) program prior to the ARH contract award, noting that the ARH is on schedule and on cost. The ARH funds had been spent on armored Humvees and force protection items before being replaced for the ARH contract to Bell Helicopter.

The four contenders for the LUH contract--AgustaWestland, Bell, EADS North America and MD Helicopters--got a final chance to tout their wares starting late last month and into this month when each was invited to the Army Aviation and Missile Command in Huntsville, Ala. to discuss their respective aircraft's performance during capabilities demonstrations earlier this year at Fort Rucker, Ala. The demonstrations were to show the Army how well each aircraft met the LUH requirements. Each discussion period lasts six days.

MILITARY

Bell, Army Alter Flight Test Plan, Flies Separate Avionics, Engine Testbeds

Bell has rescheduled first flight of the ARH for May. The original date of March 22 was postponed to get the first four aircraft more production ready, according to Bill Leonard, Bell ARH program manager. A prototype ARH (407) with a limited avionics and mission equipment package had been flown in February followed by a ground run with the new Honeywell HTS900 engine in April. The aircraft had exceeded 70 hours as of mid-April. Although initial statements by the Army product manager were that there was no room for a delay in this stage of the program, consensus was that getting the first four production aircraft ready outweighed doing the first flight in March, Leonard said. Using the prototype ARH to test the mission equipment package "allows us to reduce program risk by getting a head start on the on-aircraft integration for many of the key avionics systems," Leonard said. "When you are working on a timeline as compressed as the ARH, having the capability to test and integrate critical components in advance is key to delivering on our commitment to the warfighter."

Although initial statements by the Army product manager were that there was no room for a delay in this stage of the program, consensus was that getting the first four production aircraft ready outweighed doing the first flight in March, Leonard said. Using the prototype ARH to test the mission equipment package "allows us to reduce program risk by getting a head start on the on-aircraft integration for many of the key avionics systems," Leonard said. "When you are working on a timeline as compressed as the ARH, having the capability to test and integrate critical components in advance is key to delivering on our commitment to the warfighter."

MILITARY

Fix Planned for V-22 FADECs In Wake of Uncommanded Liftoff

V-22 program officials are developing new software for full-authority digital electronic controllers (FADECs) on the tilt-rotor's engines to prevent their failure from resulting in an uncommanded takeoff.

U.S. Marine Corps officials suspect a FADEC failure as the cause of a March 27 mishap at MCAS New River, N.C., in which an Osprey inadvertently lifted off, then fell back to the ground. The fall snapped the aircraft's right wing. No one was injured. Marine Corps are assessing whether the aircraft can be salvaged.

Marine Corps Col. Bill Taylor, manager of the V-22 Joint Program Office, said the mishap occurred as two pilots were preparing to do a functional flight check after unscheduled maintenance that required removal of the No. 2 engine and disconnection of its "A" FADEC. Taylor said V-22 procedures require pilots to switch between the "A" and "B" FADEC on each engine, with the engines running, to verify that both are good.

When the pilots switched FADECs, the No. 2 engine spooled up and the aircraft lifted off to a height that Taylor described as 6-7 ft. He discounted witness reports that the aircraft rose 30 ft., indicating the aircraft's recorders showed no such climb. The power-up occurred with the thurst control levers in the idle position.

It took about 2.4 sec. for the "B" FADEC to recognize the uncommanded power-up, take control and spool down the No. 2. At that point, the aircraft stopped flying and fell to the ground. Taylor said the wing broke as it was designed to. This is a safety measure, he said, intended to shed downward loads and prevent the wing-stow assembly atop the aircraft from crashing into the cabin.

Taylor said the FADEC software was written on the assumption that the most critical situation in which a failure would occur would be in flight. Therefore, the engine defaults to a power-up condition to maintain altitude. It was not anticipated that a failure on the ground would cause the aircraft to fly before the pilots knew it.

In addition to the FADEC software change, which Taylor expected would be in place by October, the Marines are revising V-22 procedures to instruct pilots to set the thrust control levers to the position corresponding to the expected engine power. They also are instructing pilots, should the aircraft lift off, to be prepared to remain airborne until they regain full control.

A mishap investigation board is expected to issue its findings shortly.

MILITARY

U.S. Navy Concerned About Bell's Ability To Deliver on H-1s

The U.S. Navy has expressed serious concerns about Bell Helicopter's ability to meet its contractual requirements regarding the U.S. Marine Corps' UH-1Y/AH-1Z production program.

In a letter to Bell, Steven Bizier, a contracting officer at NAVAIR, questioned the company's "capability and capacity to successfully perform existing and future government contracts," and that "two independent reviews concluded that there are still multiple areas of concern that must be addressed in the near term.

Of major concern is whether [Bell] can perform to the contract and deliver the H-1 on schedule and whether the program can go forward in accordance with the Bell Price Commitment letter of January 2006." Bizier's letter to Bell was obtained by Geoff Fein, a writer for both Rotor & Wing and its sister publication Defense Daily.

The earlier letter, dated Jan. 4, 2006, discussed ways in which Bell planned to remedy previous problems.

Bizier's letter went on to state that "I view with concern that a proposed program restructure represents the fourth time the H-1 upgrades program has required substantive changes to both cost and schedule while addressing numerous technical issues. In order for Bell to execute their contractual responsibilities, fundamental changes in [the company's] management practices and production tools/processes are required that will result in continuous and measurable improvements in on-time delivery of quality products. In particular, the decertification of the Bell Helicopter Earned Value Management System remains a major concern in your ability to manage the H-1 program."

The situation could come to a head at a Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) meeting scheduled for May 31.

However, a Bell official stated that Bell's efforts "have improved dramatically" and that "meeting or exceeding" the NAVAIR contractual requirements is a top priority within the company. Bell is current in the low rate initial production phase of the program, with first deliveries scheduled for later this year. "We are committed to delivering all the aircraft on time (and) have significantly augmented our resources to accomplish that," to include hiring a large number of highly skilled individuals to put on the H-1 program, he said.

BUSINESS

As Customers Feel Parts Pinch, Sikorsky and Teamsters End Strike

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and Local 1150 of the Teamsters union have ratified a new three-year labor contract, ending a potentially crippling strike. The agreement covers approximately 3,500 employees in Stratford, West Haven, Bridgeport, and Shelton, Conn. and 90 employees in West Palm Beach, Fla. Prior to the end of the strike, the U.S. Navy expressed concerns that it had a rapidly dwindling supply of spare parts for its H-60 Seahawks, and could be required to take parts off of non-mission essential aircraft to keep mission aircraft flying. Three components were removed from aircraft in depot level repair to support aircraft within the United States. However, the Navy reported that because of the short length of the strike, there was no crisis regarding operational aircraft and that the operational fleet met it commitments during the entire length of the strike. Supplies are now flowing normally to H-60 units, although it is uncertain exactly how long it will take to get supply stocks back to pre-strike levels.

The Navy emphasized that at no time was there any affect on the presidential fleet of VH-60s and VH-3s. Supplies are now flowing normally to H-60 units, although it is uncertain exactly how long it will take to get supply stocks back to pre-strike levels. The Navy emphasized that at no time was there any affect on the presidential fleet of VH-60s and VH-3s.

CIVIL

Southern Europe Gets Two New Helicopter Shows

Two new helicopter air shows are planned for this year, one to serve the overall business jet community and one an even-year complement to the biennial HeliTech in England.

NLC Events has created Heli Jet Show Cannes as a "meeting place for the business aviation industrial partners and executives," to include helicopters, limousines, and yachts with helipads.

NLC's concept is to organize an event dedicated wholly to professionals and decision-makers in the sector. The Palais des Festivals & des Congr's in Cannes, which will be at the heart of the Heli Jet Show activities, will welcome visitors during the three-day event in private meeting spaces. Visitors will be able to travel to the Cannes-Mandelieu and Nice C'te d'Azur Airports, which will also be hosting the event, via helicopter and limousine. The show will run Sept. 23-25 in Cannes.

HeliTech has expanded its Duxford, England event from biennial to annual with announcement of a second show for the even numbered years to be held in Spain. Exhibition Director Sue Bradshaw said she has found the perfect airfield site for an exhibition and conference, just 5 mi. from the center of Madrid, and has finalized arrangements for a show there this Oct. 3-5

"With a 20-year track record in England, the show is well-established and we have no intention of altering its unique character. However the helicopter industry moves fast and, if you do business in southern Europe, the U.K. is not always the best place. We know from some of our exhibitors that they are keen to target continental operators with their latest products and services, and we also think the time is right for Helitech to grow into an annual event. We have found the perfect venue at Cuatro Vientos airfield, a mixed police and GA traffic field with no scheduled services to restrict exhibitor or visitor flying requirements."

Bradshaw noted that, "October is a good time on the continent: many summer contracts in southern Europe will have ended and there will be lessons to learn and equipment to be procured for the 2007 season."

CIVIL

US Helicopter Ramps Up NYC Service

US Helicopter Corp. is offering service between Manhattan and the area's airports. Flight operations began March 27 between John F. Kennedy Airport and Downtown Manhattan Heliport near Wall Street. The company plans to begin service to East 34th St. Heliport shortly.

The company provides 24 daily flights with S-76s configured for eight passengers. Service from Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport is planned for this month or June, with service added to Newark International Airport during third quarter 2006, according to CEO and President Jerry Murphy. It will then be introduced into other major metropolitan markets, he said.

"Our customer is going to be the regular business traveler, executive, manager or supervisor who would otherwise take a Town Car or limousine service. New York City receives a lot of complaints for traffic and gridlock," he added. "We could have started in a small city but why not start it in a place that needs it the most?"

BUSINESS

An Industrial Thaw in the Northeast U.S.?

Observers wondered if they were witnessing a thaw taking place during March 31 ceremonies at Lockheed Martin Systems Integration's Owego, N.Y. plant marking the delivery of the first new-production MH-60R to the U.S. Navy.

Sikorsky's new president, Jeff Pino, piloted a company S-76 to the event, landing right at Lockheed Martin's facility. In hand, he brought a present for Frank Meyer, president of the Lockheed Martin unit: a U.S. flag that had flown with a Black Hawk unit in Iraq.

Relations between the partners of the -60R program (Sikorsky provides the aircraft, Lockheed Martin the critical onboard systems) have been quite chilly ever since the Stratford, Conn. helicopter maker's S-92 lost out to Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland's US101 bid in the race to provide the next U.S. presidential helicopter.

Was Pino's presence and jovial demeanor a sign that the frost might be thawing?

"Maybe," one Sikorsky wag said, skeptically.

MILITARY

U.S. Navy Approves MH-60R Full-Rate Production

The U.S. Navy approved full-rate production of the MH-60R in March and took delivery of the first of over 200 new manufactured MH-60R helicopters designed for the anti-submarine and surface warfare mission. Full-rate production was approved on March 31, with total orders expected to reach as high as 254 aircraft through 2015 with a production rate of up to 30 aircraft per month.

The Navy had already received seven MH-60R helicopters remanufactured from SH-60B airframes integrated with the next-generation mission systems. Four of those re-manufactured aircraft were delivered to the Pacific Fleet's Helicopter Maritime Strike-41 (HSM-41) training squadron in December 2005. The aircraft will be produced at a rate of 25 per year through Fiscal 2008, then increase to 30 in Fiscal 2009 and going to 31 per year in Fiscal 2011. According to Capt. Paul Grosklagg, director, multi-mission helicopter program office, the Navy will enter into multi-year procurement contracts, incorporating the MH-60R into existing multi-service, multi-year contracts with the U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk and the Navy MH-60S Knighthawk.

CIVIL

L.A. County Sheriff Aero Bureau's Jim Di Giovanna Retires

Capt. Jim Di Giovanna retired as commander of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. Aero Bureau on March 30, having been assigned to the aviation unit since January 1989. His 34+ -year law enforcement career also included assignments as a patrol deputy, patrol and operations sergeant and patrol lieutenant watch commander, along with assignments at the Sheriff's Information Bureau, Field Operations Headquarters and Custody Div.

Di Giovanna is a commercial pilot, helicopter and instrument rated, with over 5,800 flight hours. As unit commander of the Aero Bureau, he was responsible for managing aviation operations for the largest Sheriff's Department in the United States.

While supervising 72 sworn and civilian Sheriff's Dept. personnel, Di Giovanna had responsibility for directing the use and overseeing the operation and maintenance of the department's 15 rotary-wing and three fixed-wing aircraft.

During his tenure at the Aero Bureau, Di Giovanna was responsible for completing two extensive aircraft replacement/modernisation projects, each time upgrading the entire fleet of Sheriff's Dept. patrol helicopters with modern aircraft and related advanced technology. He is also credited with developing and implementing the Airborne Microwave Video Downlink programme for Los Angeles County Sheriff and Fire Departments and was principally responsible for the Sheriff's Dept.'s acquisition of six former U.S. Navy SH-3H Sea King helicopters and successfully integrating these aircraft into the fleet, replacing the ageing S-58T rescue helicopters.

Di Giovanna also served in the military, retiring in 2001 as a colonel and Master Army Aviator from the California Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves after 35 years of service.

His many military assignments included director of Army Aviation and Safety for the state of California and commander, Aviation Brigade, 40th Infantry Div. He is a graduate of the Army Aviation Accident Prevention and Safety Course, and University of Southern California School of Aviation Safety and Systems Management.

MILITARY

Bell Breaks Ground On Army Programs Center

Bell Helicopter on March 27 hosted more than 50 U.S. Army dignitaries, Bell employees and local civic leaders in officially breaking ground on its new Army Programs Center.

"Our nation is at war and Bell Helicopter must keep our focus on the war fighters," said Bell Chief Executive Officer Mike "Red" Redenbaugh.

Brig. Gen. E.J. Sinclair, commanding general of the Army Aviation Warfighting Center in Fort Rucker, Ala., was among the distinguished guests who attended the groundbreaking ceremony. "As we continue to fight this global war on terror--and we know we're going to be fighting it for years to come--the product you produce is going to give them the best opportunity to kill the enemy and survive," Sinclair said. "There's no doubt in my mind you'll meet that challenge. I can't overstate the importance of what Bell helicopters do for Army aviation."

The general related an incident where a Bell helicopter under fire saw both pilots shot. Once the helicopter was on the ground, crews found nearly 20 bullet holes in the craft.

"You saved both those soldiers lives because of the work you do," Sinclair told Bell workers. "It withstood the damage of those bullets."

Once complete by the end of this year, the center will house about 206,000 sq. ft. of offices.

MILITARY

Japan Gets First Boeing/Fuji-Built AH-64D

The Japan Defense Agency has taken delivery of the first AH-64D Longbow Apache built jointly by Fuji Heavy Industries and Boeing at Boeing's Mesa, Ariz. facility. The Japanese government has indicated a need for an addition six AH-64Ds over the next five years, to be built by Fuji Heavy Industries under license from Boeing. These aircraft will be built in Utsunomiya, Japan for use by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. Boeing will continue to assist in production of the aircraft in areas such as systems integration.

The two companies worked closely together to produce the first aircraft, as well as complete qualification testing of the aircraft, which includes an air-to-air Stinger capability, according to Patricia Carson, program manager for the Japanese Apache program for Boeing.

MILITARY

Quad A Honors Aviation Enlisted

The Army Aviation Assn. of America honored several enlisted members of U.S. Army aviation, among them the recipients of the Crew Chief of the Year and Aviation Soldier of the Year awards.

Sgt. Christopher J. Scangarello of the Florida Army National Guard's Co. B, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment in Brooksville, Fla. won Crew Chief of the Year, which was sponsored by Robertson Aviation.

During the hurricane season, Scangarello supported the National Guard's disaster relief efforts after Katrina and Rita slammed ashore. Within 30 hr. of Katrina's landfall in August, Scangarello's aircraft and another UH-60 arrived in New Orleans to conduct immediate rescue operations.

During one rescue, two elderly ladies were afloat atop corrugated tin sheets, one in insulin shock and the other paralyzed from the waist down. Being under a tree and surrounded by power lines, a direct extraction was impossible. Disregarding his safety, Scangarello descended on the jungle penetrator to a structure three houses away. Commandeering a partially submerged boat, he bailed water and paddled to the two women, secured them, rendered initial first-aid, and then paddled to a rooftop reachable by the aircraft's hoist and carefully lifted them to safety. In two days alone, Scangarello helped save 265 stranded people.

Spec. Joshua R. Blizzard of the South Carolina Army National Guard's Company D, 1st Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment in Eastover, S.C. won the Bell Helicopter-sponsored Aviation Soldier of the Year Award. Blizzard began 2005 deployed in support on Operation Iraqi Freedom 3 with Co. D, 1st Battalion. (Attack), 151st Aviation Regiment at Forward Operating Base Endurance at Q-West Air Base, Iraq. An AH-64A maintenance technician with less than two years of service as a Guardsman, Blizzard proved his mettle there, excelling as a phase maintenance team and a downed aircraft recovery team leader.

On Dec. 30, 2004, Blizzard demonstrated uncommon bravery. While working on an Apache at 1 a.m. an Air Force MC-130 crashed upon landing at Q-West's lone runway. Blizzard ran over 250 meters to be the first rescuer on site. Disregarding his safety, he entered the burning airplane in darkness with loose equipment, flames and potential of cooking-off rounds. Searching, he found two Army Special Forces personnel, one unconscious and severely injured, and carried both to safety through debris and burning fuel, one with the assistance of a fellow soldier.

CIVIL

EASA Approves S-92 for Flight Into Known Icing Conditions

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has approved the Sikorsky built S-92TM for flight into known icing conditions.

The S-92 has now received icing certifications from all three of the world's leading civil certification authorities. Both the U.S. FAA and Transport Canada granted their approvals in October 2005.

All three authorities flew the S-92 with its Rotor Ice Protection System (RIPS) in Alaska late last year. Sikorsky claims that since the first certifications in 2005, S-92 aircraft in the United States and Canada "have flown flawlessly in known icing conditions." The automatic modes of the S-92 RIPS operation reduce pilot workload in these conditions providing for an even higher degree of operational capability, the company said. With the EASA approval, S-92s in Europe will now begin the same kinds of operation, helping to provide reliable passenger transportation in diverse weather conditions.

The RIPS determines the temperature and moisture content of the surrounding environment and applies heat to the main and tail rotor blades to remove any ice buildup. Most S-92s delivered to date or ordered include RIPS. Development of the S-92 RIPS began in 1997 and included three years of aircraft testing.

MAINTENANCE

Group Seeks May 24 to Honor Charlie Taylor, Successors

The Professional Aviation Maintenance Assn. (PAMA) is leading an industry effort to create a permanent, national U.S. day of recognition for Charles Taylor, builder of the engine that carried the Wright Flyer on the first controlled powered flight over 100 years ago. The group said the day would bring much deserved honor to Taylor and to the professional women and men that walk in his shoes every day on flight lines and in hangars across the country and around the world.

"The dawn of our second century of powered flight must bring new understanding and respect for the aviation maintenance professional," said PAMA president Brian Finnegan. "The vital role of these certificated and experienced airworthiness experts must be constantly communicated and recognized. To do this, it is essential that the flying public and our industry comprehend and recognize the role maintenance professionals play in balancing the aviation safety equation."

Each year on December 17, the anniversary of the first powered flight in 1903, aviators recognize the historic efforts of Orville and Wilbur Wright, the first pilots. On that day, Finnegan said, we remember the many heroes that came after them and flew their machines into harm's way and into transportation history with the advent of transcontinental, transoceanic, and space flight. The accomplishments of past and future aviation pioneers must always be recognized. "Now we must all join together to make May 24, Charles Taylor's birthday, National Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) Day. "

"Among those on the inside, Charles E. Taylor has long been known as the "unsung hero" of the Wright's successful first flight effort," said Finnegan. "Today's maintenance professional is the unsung hero of modern aviation--one of the most robust industries in the world."

PAMA has been working with many people to help establish National AMT Day. Over 30 states have created their own local AMT Day, largely because of the efforts of Richard "Dilly" Dilbeck, FAA safety program manager at the Sacramento, Calif. Flight Standards District Office. "We have worked very hard and, while we do have a number of co-sponsoring congressmen already, we need many more to achieve our goal," said John Goglia, PAMA senior vice president of government and technical programs and former NTSB member. "Please take a few minutes to help us bring Charlie and all aviation mechanics their long overdue recognition."

PAMA asks supporters to email their representatives in Congress specifically requesting support for H.R. 586 (108th Congress) declaring May 24 National Aviation Maintenance Technician Day. "Aviation maintenance professionals humbly ask for the support of the entire aviation community in achieving the national recognition that rightfully belongs to Charlie Taylor and all of those that call him the Father of Aviation Maintenance," Goglia said.

CIVIL

Cosan Buys First Brazilian Grand

Sao Paulo, Brazil-base Cosan SA has taken delivery of the first AgustaWestland Grand sold in that country. Cosan SA is a major agricultural and forestry company in Brazil, and will use the aircraft to shuttle passengers between its plants and distilleries. The aircraft is configured with a six-passenger VIP interior.

AgustaWestland said its light twins are the market leaders in Brazilian with 33 helicopters now in service, representing a market share of over 50 percent. Along with the recently delivered Grand, AgustaWestland has A109 and A119s in Brazil, supported by two authorized service centers, Ultra-Rev in Rio de Janeiro and SOBRAHEL in Sao Paulo. By the end of 2006 the new generation medium-twin AW139 helicopter will also be in service in Brazil.

PROGRAMS UPDATES

*Attack--Turkey is expected to make a down-select soon as early as June on a tender for 90 attack helicopters under its ATAK program. Contenders are the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta, Denel Rooivalk, Eurocopter Tiger and Kamov Ka-50-2.

*Attack--Taiwan apparently has narrowed a long-running competition for 75 attack helicopters to the AH-1 or AH-64D. A final decision reportedly has been pushed back to 2008 because of funding.

*Counter-Insurgency--The Indian Army is doing a technical assessment of bids for Bell's 407 and Eurocopter's AS550 to replace high-altitude Cheetahs and Chetaks with 197 aircraft for counter-insurgency operations. The program envisions buying 55 aircraft from the winning manufacturer followed by phased-in local production by Hindustan Aeronautics of the remaining 142.

*CSAR--The Royal Malaysian Air Force is looking for a combat search-and-rescue helicopter, expected to be in the EH101 class, to replace its S-61s starting this year and running about 10 years.

*HH-3F--AgustaWestland on March 8 delivered the first of up to 28 HH-3Fs with an upgraded integrated avionics suite to the Italian air force's the 15th Sqdn. based at Pratica di Mare, Rome as part of a multi-year program to improve the helicopter fleet. AgustaWestland is responsible for design, development and integration of the new glass cockpit, which includes night-vision goggle compatibility.

*National Police--Chile is considering a variety of helicopters both for its national police, which has an $18.5-million budget to replace four BO105s. The police agency reportedly is considering the Robinson R44.

*UAV--The U.S. Navy's first RQ-4A Global Hawk is now at NAS Patuxent River, Md. for testing as part of Navy's Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2006, which began in April.

*Utility--Turkey rescheduled from March 15 to June 15 the deadline for responding to its request for proposal for a utility helicopter at the request of manufacturers. Contenders for the $500-million-plus order are the Sikorsky S-70, Kamov's Ka-62, Mil's Mi-17 and NHIndustries' NH90.

*Utility--Taiwan is looking to replace 25 UH-1 Hueys; contenders are the Bell's UH-1Y. Eurocopter AS332 and Sikorsky S-92 or S-70.

*V-22--The first MV-22 for a new operational combat unit, aircraft No. 73, is to be delivered this month U.S. Marine Medium Tilt-Rotor Sqdn. 263 (VMM-263) at MCAS New River, N.C., which was officially activated March 3. VMM-263 is to get about one MV-22 until it reaches its complement of 12.

CONTRACTS

CAE USA has been awarded contract options by the U.S. Navy valued at more than $14 million to design and manufacture an MH-60S operational flight trainer (OFT). This will be the fourth MH-60S simulator that CAE is to deliver to the Navy.

CHC Helicopter Corp. was awarded a C$18-million (US$15.35-million) contract from the Swedish Defence Material Administration for the refurbishment of three AS332M1 Super Pumas. The helicopters will be upgraded by Heli-One, CHC's leasing and helicopter support division, for medevac operations as a part of the Nordic Battle Group.

McDonnell Douglas Helicopters was awarded a $120.3-million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for reliability and safety and recapitalization overhaul for fielded aircraft.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. was awarded two modification to firm-fixed-price contracts valued at $48.9 million and $21.5 million for the Army's UH-60L Black Hawk. Other contracts include a $22.4-million firm-fixed-priced contract to provide overhaul/repair of the main gearbox, elastomeric main rotor hub and various component parts for the MJ-53 in support of Air Force Special Operations force requirements.

Bell Helicopter was awarded a $16.5-million modification to a firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Kiowa Warrior safety enhancement program.

The Purdy Corp. was awarded a delivery order amount of $10 million as part of a $16.9-million firm-fixed-price contract for Intermediate gearboxes for the AH-64 aircraft.

CSAR-X CONTENDERS

Boeing Says HH-47 has plenty of muscle, room

Boeing officials are tailoring their HH-47 contender for the U.S. Air Force's Combat Search and Rescue-X competition to meet the rescue, medical and self-defense needs of the crews that fly in harm's way to rescue downed airmen.

The manufacturer proposes to move the starboard forward hatch of its Chinook aft and widen it from 36 to 48 in. to facilitate bringing a hoisted rescueman and his charge into the aircraft. Boeing also would build a "porch" over the aircraft's refueling boom just outside that hatch to provide more working area for the operator of the contender's dual-spool electric Goodrich hoist. The porch also protects the boom during hoisting operations.

The contender's patient treatment area immediately adjacent to the forward hatch is designed for a variety of litter configurations, and has environmental controls to the upper and lower body areas of each litter position.

The aircraft's forward port and aft starboard cabin windows would be widened and deepened to allow gunners a 75-deg. depression angle of fire. Boeing also plans a ballistically tolerant floor for the cabin.

Boeing's HH-47 program manager, Rick Lemaster, counters criticism that the -47 is too big for the Air Force's requirements by noting that it is roughly the same length as its competitors, but its tandem rotor allow most of that length to be usable cabin space, since it does not require a tail boom.

First Mi-26T For Canada Delivered

Rostvertol handed over on March 27 an Mi-26T helicopter to Russia-base UTair, a major commercial operator of Russian helicopters, for operations in Canada. It will be the first time an Mi-26T will be used in Canadian operations, indicating a serious advancement of the Russian aircraft in the most conservative market in North America, Rostvertol said. The Mi-26T will be used for oil exploration in Canada and was selected because of its cost-effectiveness and environmental friendliness. The company said that the aircraft is 1.5--2 times more cost effective than U.S. built helicopters and is more efficient in oil-exploration operations in the Canadian North where maximum weight loads much be carried long distances. The Mi-26T has a useful load of 30 tons and a maximum range of 318 nm. The aircraft will be based in White Court, Alberta, Canada.

PEOPLE

Dallas Airmotive has named Greg Martin as director, business development of its newly created business development function, designed to bridge the company's diversified engine services locations. Martin most recently served as a territorial sales director based at H+S Aviation, Portsmouth, England, responsible for all sales in Europe and Africa. The company also named Ed Koss as a field service representative for the Rolls-Royce 250 Program. Koss will assist the company's customer service group with field requests for support on Model 250 engines serviced at the company's Premier Turbines division.

CJ Systems Aviation Group has named Paul Lhote as program chief pilot assigned to STAT MedEvac. Lhote replaces Rich Gross who held the position since 1996.

ITT Industries, Inc. has named W. Michael Hayman as president and general manager of its Night Vision Value Center. Hayman succeeds Gary Aicher, who was appointed president of ITT's Advanced Water Treatment business.

FlightSafety International has named Paul Hewett manager of its London Farnborough Training Center. He replaces Rudy Toering who will now serve full time as FlightSafety's managing director, Europe business development.

Avidyne Corp. appointed Paul Hathaway to director of OEM product marketing and Jamie Luster to director of U.S. aftermarket sales. Avidyne said it created the positions to enhance service to OEM and dealer customers as the company expands its product lines and market reach. Hathaway had previously served as an OEM sales manager for Avidyne, while Luster had held sales and marketing positions within the company. Most recently she served as aftermarket product marketing manager and as regional sales manager.

Wingspeed Corp, a provider of end-to-end communication systems to aircraft fleet operators, hired David Borkowski as vice president of world wide sales. Borkowski will be responsible for the global sales of Wingspeed's XLLink voice and data communications system product line. Borkowski was most recently the director of sales and business development - The Americas at Rockwell Collins.

Rockwell Collins has named Jeff Moore to senior vice president, operations, replacing Kent L. Statler, who was named vice president and general manager of Rockwell Collins Services in November 2005.

EVENTS

May 3-5-- European Business Aviation conference & Exhibition (EBACE 2006). Palexpo Conference Center, Geneva, Switzerland. Produced by the European Business Aviation Assn. and the National Business Aircraft Assn. Contact: Kathleen Blouin (NBAA) (202) 783-9364; E-mail: kblouin@nbaa.com; Web: www.ebace.aero.

May 9-11--AHS 62nd Annual Forum and Technology Display, Phoenix Civic Plaza, Phoenix, Ariz. Contact: AHS (703) 684-6777; E-mail: staff@vtol.org; Web: www.vtol.org.

May 9-11, Phoenix, AZ, Flight Safety Foundation/NBAA 51st Annual Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar. Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa, Phoenix, Ariz. Contact: NBAA (202) 783-9283; Web: www.nbaa.org/events.

May 16-21--ILA 2006/Berlin Air Show, BDLI/Messe Berlin, Schoenefeld Airport, Berlin, Germany. Contact: 49-30-3038-2014; E-mail: grave@messe-berlin.de; Web: www.ila-berlin.com.

May 21--Imperial War Museum May Air Show, Duxford War Museum, Duxford, England. Contact: 44-1223-835-000; E-mail: duxford@iwm.org.uk; Web: www.iwm.org.uk.

May 31-June 1--Heli-Pacific. Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, Queensland. Contact: Herve Bavazzano, 44-1628-606980; E-mail: hb@shephard.co.uk; Web: www.shephard.co.uk.

July 8-9--Imperial War Museum Flying Legends Air Show, Duxford War Museum, Duxford, England. Contact: 44-1223-835-000; E-mail: duxford@iwm.org.uk; Web: iwm.org.uk.

July 15-16--Royal International Air Tattoo 2006, Fairford, UK. Contact: www.airtattoo.com.

July 18-23--Farnborough International Airshow, Farnborough, England. Contact: 44-20 7227 1043; E-mail: enquires@farnborough.com; Web: www.farnborough.com.

July 24-30--EAA Airventure 2006, Wittman Regional Airport, Oshkosh, Wisc. Contact: (920) 426-6523; E-mail: conventional@eaa.org; Web: www.airventure.org.

July 26-30--International HeliDays Plus, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, England. Contact: Elfan Ap Rees, 011-44-(0)1934-822-524; E-mail: westonsuper@helidays.freeserve.co.uk. Web: www.helidays.freeserve.co.uk.

Aug. 10-12--Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE 2006). Congonhas Airport, S?o Paulo, Brazil. Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360; E-mail: dhubbard@nbaa.org; Web: www.nbaa.org.

BUSINESS

Material Shortages, Supplies on Everyone's Mind

The availability of key metals and composite materials--or the lack thereof--seems to be on everyone's minds these days, from executives of a whole host of helicopter manufacturers to the head of the U.S. Army's Aviation and Missile Command.

"Everybody's scared," said one engine maker executive.

Publicly, industry executives put up a good front, with many of them maintaining that their companies are parts of industrial powerhouses that strategically buy key raw materials in bulk.

"If someone is telling you that, they're blowing smoke at you," said a top executive of a major helicopter manufacturer. "We're part of a big corporation, and it keeps me up at night.

The problem is not a new one. Turbomeca CEO Emeric d'Arcimoles reported at least year's Paris Air Show that supplies of titanium and nickel alloys were a major concern for engine manufacturers. But the problems have worsened since then as different industries domestically and internationally compete for what seem to be increasingly scarce sources of those materials as well as certain steels and composite materials.

In the U.S., the situation is aggravated by the Berry Amendment, a law named for a World War II-era congressman who sponsored a law requiring defense contractors to use materials only from U.S. or U.S.-approved sources.

"I hate a dead congressman," said Maj. Gen. James Pillsbury, head of the Aviation and Missile Command, at the Army Aviation Assn. of America convention last month in Nashville, Tenn. After that event, Pillsbury was headed to Latrobe, Pa. to discuss the supply of steel critical for aircraft bearings with Timken Latrobe, one of its few suppliers.

CIVIL

Go Helitrans Opts for Blue Sky Network

Go Helitrans has tapped Blue Sky Network to provide satellite tracking and voice for its entire fleet of 20 Bell JetRangers and LongRangers. Using Blue Sky's services and

SkyRouter, Manvel, Texas-based Go Helitrans will gain the ability to offer its own customers the opportunity to track their contracted helicopters on desktop computers linked to the Internet.

Go Helitrans has deployed Blue Sky Network's D1000C terminal and ACH1000 advanced control head, which Blue Sky said gives the company tracking, messaging, and voice communications capabilities to allow it to manage and easily communicate with all it aviation assets.

"Safety and customer service have always been important values for us as a company," said Greg Obert, president of Go Helitrans. "Our customers love that we offer them the ability to track their contracted helicopter. The tracking is easy to use and extremely beneficial for them, because they always know where their helicopter and people are located."

CIVIL

HeliSureste

Helisureste, the Spanish helicopter airline and services company, has bolstered its fleet with the addition of its first AgustaWestland AW139. The operator plans to use the medium twin helicopter in airline service connecting Ceuta with Malaga's Airport.

The adquisition of this brand new helicopter, an investment of 8 million euros, increases Helisureste's seat offering by 25 percent, up to 15 passengers per sector.

The speedy AW139 also will reduce flight time per sector and "deliver higher comfort for the passengers because of the latest technology developments in noise and vibration reduction," the company said.

The acquisition comes as Helisureste celebrates its 10th year of providing airline service from Ceuta to Malaga. Started in 1996, Helisureste said it was the first and remains the only Spanish operator granted approval for scheduled helicopter operations. Since 1996, around 2600 flights are performed each year. Since 2005, Helisureste has provided the same helicopter service in Malta, flying from the international airport to Gozo's Island.

CIVIL

Keystone Prepares For S-76, S-92 Production

Keystone Helicopter, a subsidiary of Sikorsky, has applied for FAA production certificates to allow final assembly of Sikorsky S-76s and S-92s at its Coatesville, Pa. facility. Sikorsky currently manufactures the S-76 and S-92 at its Commercial Aircraft Center in Stratford, Conn. Keystone expects to obtain the FAA production certificate by the end of this year, at which point Sikorsky will relocate its civil assembly line to Pennsylvania.

The move is based on a growing production requirement in Stratford for the M, R and S model H-60s, as well as future plans for the CH-53K, combined with the commercial success of the civil helicopters. Sikorsky delivered 49 civil helicopters in 2005 and continues to experience sales growth in its commercial product line.

Sikorsky purchased Keystone last December, and is "already seeing the strategic benefits of the Keystone acquisition," said Mick Maurer, Sikorsky vice president of commercial programs. "Obtaining Keystone's FAA production certificate creates the additional capacity and added flexibility we need to meet the growing demand for our civil helicopter products."

Keystone is in the process of building and moving into a new facility in phases at a complex in Coatesville called The Heliplex. This will eventually feature several buildings comprising 173,000 square feet in one of the larger, most technically advanced commercial rotorcraft depots in the country, Maurer said.

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