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Thursday, April 1, 2010

What the Major Helicopter Manufacturers Said at Heli-Expo

Coverage from HAI’s Heli-Expo 2010 in Houston is spread throughout the April issue. This page feautres wrap-ups from the many AgustaWestland, Bell, Eurocopter and Sikorsky announcements.

AgustaWestland

AgustaWestland CEO Guiseppe Orsi. Photos by Ernie Stephens
Possibly the biggest announcement from AgustaWestland during Heli-Expo was the unveiling of the Grand New, a version of the Grand with an updated avionics package and other features. The Grand New comes with an enhanced vision system (EVS), helicopter terrain awareness and warning system (HTAWS), Chelton Flight Logic synthetic vision EFIS (electronic flight instrument system), and highway in the sky (HITS). The helicopter meets the FAA/NTSB recommendations for EMS operators regarding the use of night vision goggles and EVS, according to AgustaWestland. The manufacturer has already obtained EASA certification for the Grand New, with FAA approval projected in mid-2010.

• Era Group bought 10 AW139s for offshore transport missions. The company, which primarily operates in the Gulf of Mexico, has 22 AW119Ke, 17AW139 and seven AW109 Power helicopters in its fleet.

• Bristow Group ordered four AW139s during the show. The agreement adds to a previous deal for three AW139s. Bristow will use the helicopters for offshore transport in the Gulf of Mexico.

• EASA has issued certification for the AW139 full ice protection system (FIPS). The approval allows operators to fly into known icing conditions. FAA and Transport Canada certifications are imminent, according to AgustaWestland.

• ICSS of Greece is the newest authorized service center (ASC) in the AgustaWestland network. Its service center at Megara Airport provides maintenance and repairs on the AW109 Power and Grand light twins.

• Four AW119Ke single-engine helicopters will join the fleet of Spain’s FAASA Group. Heliduero will operate two of the helicopters, and all four are slated for firefighting missions.

• Japanese AgustaWestland distributor Kaigai Aviotech Corp. ordered an AW109 Power. The helicopter is scheduled for delivery by 2012.

• Esperia Aviation Services placed a mixed order for two AW119Kes, one AW139 and one Grand. The company will employ the helicopters for passenger transport in Italy.

• Portugal’s Vinair Aeroservicos purchased two Grand New light twins. The launch customer for the type, Vinair will use the helicopters for corporate/VIP transport. Delivery is scheduled for summer 2010.

• Spain’s Grupo INAER signed an MoU to receive training services from AgustaWestland. The agreement covers training for engineers and crews, including for specific missions using simulators.

Bell Helicopter

Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison
Twelve Bell Helicopter customer service facilities (CSFs) received a Platinum-level rating for 2010: Air Asia Company of Taiwan; Alpine Aerotech of Canada; Arrow Aviation of Broussard, La.; Avialta Helicopter Maintenance and Eagle Copters Maintenance, both of Canada; Fuji Heavy Industries of Japan; Germany’s Motorflug Baden-Baden; Northwest Helicopters of Olympia, Wash.; Sweden’s Patria Helicopters; Rotorcraft Support Inc. of Van Nuys, Calif.; Sikorsky Aircraft Australia/Sikorsky Helitech; and Uniflight of Grand Prairie, Texas.

• Bell and Rolls-Royce have partnered to explore a retrofit project to install the RR500TS turboshaft on the Bell 206B JetRanger. The agreement signed at Heli-Expo 2010 covers the evaluation of supplemental type certificate (STC) kits to equip the helicopter with the RR500TS engine, which is slated for FAA approval in late 2011.

• A new STC allows Bell 407 operators to achieve better hot-and-high performance, including to increase its in-ground-effect hover by around 3,000 feet or useful load by more than 400 pounds. The STC takes advantage of excess power from the Rolls-Royce 250-C47B to improve the performance.

• Bell Training Academy has obtained EASA training approval for the 429. The certification covers a maintenance course and electrical and avionics maintenance courses. The academy has also inked a five-year contract with the U.S. Government Service Administration’s acquisition schedule. Under the agreement, the academy’s full course catalog has become part of the GSA schedule at Alliance Airport (AFW) in Fort Worth, Texas.

• Bell’s Finance Group is making new financing opportunities available for acquisitions finalized in the first half of the year. The Bell Rotorcraft Financing Program offers a 5.15 percent rate for customers that take delivery of a new helicopter before July 2010.

Eurocopter

Eurocopter President & CEO Lutz Bertling.
Among the company’s highlights were more details about its Bluecopter program, which aims to lower noise and reduce CO2 and NOx emissions through new-technology designs. Eurocopter displayed a new high-compression engine known as OPEC (opposite piston opposite cylinder), in addition to the rotor blade programs Blue Edge and Blue Pulse.

• Air Methods purchased eight EC130s and four AS320B3s. Air Methods, which provides HEMS for various hospitals and other units, flies a variety of models, including the EC130, EC135, EC145, AS350, AS365, BK117 and BO105.

• U.S. Customs and Border Protection exercised an option for six additional AS350B3s under its light enforcement helicopter (LEH) contract. The multi-year agreement includes up to 50 AS350B3s.

• A new EC225 firefighting system made its debut at the show. Testing of the system, which includes a 1,056-gallon (4,000-liter) tank, scoop and water jettison kit, took place on the island of Corsica, France.

• Along with launch customer ADAC Air Rescue of Germany, Eurocopter displayed a new inlet barrier filter (IBF) for the EC135. The filter has achieved EASA certification on the P2/P2i (with Pratt & Whitney engines) and approval of the T version (with Turbomeca engines) is expected in third quarter 2010.

• Suffolk County PD placed an order for another AS350B2 that will join its Aviation Section, which also consists of an EC145 and two other AS350B2s.

• TEMSCO Helicopters inked a deal for an AS350B3 as part of a just-launched fleet upgrade program. TEMSCO operates a fleet of 56 helicopters.

• Papillion Helicopters ordered another EC130B4 for aerial sightseeing in the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas. Equipped with Turbomeca Arriel 2B1 engines, it becomes the 14th EC130B4 in Papillion’s fleet.

Sikorsky

Sikorsky Aircraft President Jeffrey Pino
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Sikorsky’s newest division—Innovations—to develop active rotor technology with the ability to “adapt to a changing environment” and vary its performance based on operating conditions. The first phase of the three-part project will involve $5.9 million to design the mission-adaptive helicopter over a period of 16 months. For videos of Sergei Sikorsky and Innovations Director Chris Van Buiten, visit: www.aviationtoday.com/rw/heliexpo2010/videoarchive/

• Sikorsky Aerospace Services (SAS) has secured a five-year U.S. State Department indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract that calls for up to 110 modified S-61T helicopters for passenger and cargo transport operations, including for the American Embassy in Afghanistan. Perkasie, Pa.-based Carson Helicopters is partnering with SAS on the modernization program for the helicopter.

• Sikorsky has initiated flight tests with the second S-76D prototype. Production started in late 2009 at Aero Vodochody in the Czech Republic, and the first prototype is scheduled to arrive at Sikorsky Global’s complex in Coatesville, Pa. in April for completion and final assembly.

• New upgrades are available for the S-92, including ADS-B equipment developed in partnership with PHI for Gulf of Mexico offshore operations; a SAR automatic flight control system that provides a pre-programmed coupled approach; cargo hook with load-sensing capability; and improvements to the rotor deicing and active vibration control systems.

• Sikorsky Global is reporting a rise in sales of the S-300C and CBi of around 50 percent through early 2010, when compared to the same period in 2009.

• LORD Corp. has teamed with SAS involving high-capacity laminate (HCL) elastomeric bearings. SAS business unit Helicopter Support Inc. will serve as the distributor of LORD bearings for the S-61, S-70 and S-92.

• Brazil’s Líder Taxi Aéreo has purchased three S-76C++ helicopters for offshore oil operations. Líder also recently became the first S-92 operator in the region.

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