Wednesday, September 1, 2004
The Canadian government has selected the S-92 over AgustaWestland's EH101 Cormorant for its maritime replacement helicopter. The announcement was made July 23. Final contracts will be signed this fall and the first helicopter must be delivered no later than 2008. Deliveries thereafter are to commence at a rate of one per month. The Canadian Forces have christened their new S-92 replacement helicopter the CH-148 Cyclone.
Canada is procuring 28 helicopters to replace its aging fleet of CH-124 Sea Kings. That 1960s-vintage aircraft requires 30 maintenance hours per flight hour and has been plagued with myriad problems.
According to the Canadian government, Sikorsky will sign two contracts: a US$1.4-billion deal for the 28 aircraft and a $2.4 billion agreement for 20 years of in-service support.
The helicopters will be manufactured at Sikorsky's Bridgeport, Connecticut plant. However, the Cyclone's mission data management system will be built in Ottawa, Ontario by General Dynamics Canada, which is responsible for all systems integration work. Another Canadian firm, L-3 MAS Canada, in Mirabel, Quebec, is responsible for in-service support.
Benefits to the Canadian industrial sector figure prominently in the deal and account for an estimated $3.4 billion, with 170 companies, said Alan Williams, the Defence Department's assistant deputy minister of material.
The contract provides bonuses for early delivery and penalties for later delivery. These amount to $65,000 per day for early delivery and $100,000 per day for late delivery, thus making it "very much in the company's best interests to deliver the helicopters as quickly as possible," Williams added.
Team Cormorant has cast doubts on whether Sikorsky can manufacture these helicopters in time to meet the Canadian government's target delivery dates. The Cyclone, after all, does not yet exist. However, Sikorsky dismisses these concerns, as does the Canadian government.
"There's absolutely no doubt in our minds that they have shown us that they have the capacity to deliver the plan and the product that we need," Williams said.
The decision is a serious blow to AgustaWestland, whose EH101 helicopter will continue to face off against the S-92 in other prominent international competitions. For example, both aircraft are vying for the United States Air Force personnel recovery vehicle and VXX presidential transport contracts.
The Canadian award also gives the S-92 a much-needed and much-coveted government contract-the S-92's first thus far. However, because the announcement comes after years of intense competitive jockeying and legal maneuvering, it is not without controversy. AgustaWestland has alleged that the competition was rigged against the EH101 and the company reportedly is considering a legal challenge.
AgustaWestland filed a court complaint against the Canadian government four years ago, on October 31, 2000, and then again four months later on March 8, 2001. Both cases were dismissed, but not necessarily because they lacked merit.
The courts instead dismissed the charges as premature. However, the Federal Court of Appeal pointedly noted that "this evidence may eventually demonstrate that the procurement procedures suffered from patent politicization within the Department of National Defence."
The Canadian government insists that it adhered to the most stringent rules of fairness and impartiality.
"I can tell you unequivocally that at no time in the process did any minister try to modify the statement of requirements, or try to persuade us or dissuade us on how we were going about our business," Williams said. "I think that's quite a testimony to the integrity of the process."
The Canadian military selected the Cormorant as its new search and rescue helicopter in 1998. The last of these 15 aircraft was delivered in July 2003. Some analysts have said that by selecting a different helicopter for maritime patrol, surveillance, and interdiction missions, the Canadian government has forfeited administrative and cost savings that result from a common airframe.
Williams, though, disagreed. Systems, he noted, account for more than 60 percent of the cost and mission profile of modern helicopters. Thus "you would need to train people differently and have different supply lines" for each helicopter type-even though they're both Cormorants and built by the same company.
As to the charge made by some that the EH101 is a more capable helicopter, Williams said that the government's requirements were very clear and exacting. "We weren't going to pay for things that we didn't need just because someone thought that they could provide it to us at a good price," he explained.
There has been speculation in the Canadian press that the Cormorant was eliminated from the competition months ago on technical grounds. This was certainly true of the NH90, which reportedly failed to comply with the government's technical requirements and, therefore, was eliminated last December. However, the Canadian government has specifically said that "AgustaWestland and Sikorsky were deemed compliant and thus eligible to submit bids in response to the RFP [request for proposal].
Helicopters Strong at Subdued Farnborough
Helicopter makers made the most of a low-key Farnborough Air Show, trumpeting new developments for existing products and battling for advantage in current major-contract competitions.
AgustaWestland enjoyed a showcase position at the biennial event. Its outdoor display stood fast by the main entrance to the show, giving a prominent position to EH101 variants for the Danish and Italian navies, and the U.K.'s Royal Air Force, the Bell/Agusta Aerospace AB139 and the Agusta Grand stretched version of the A109 Power. (The Grand will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207Cs.)
AgustaWestland highlighted the capabilities of the EH101 as part of its effort to win the upcoming VXX contract to supply new helicopters to transport the U.S. president. The company is teamed with Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopter Textron in that effort.
However, Sikorsky Aircraft-their competitor for the VXX work-stole the show at Farnborough by virtue of developments an ocean away. On the show's fourth day, officials in Canada said they had picked a version of Sikorsky's S-92 as that nation's new maritime defense and search-and-rescue helicopter. The selection ousted the EH-101, whose Cormorant derivative is already in service with Canadian Forces.
Sikorsky also unveiled an order for two new S-92s to transport the president of the nation of Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic on the northeast border of Iran. Included among the amenities on those presidential helicopters are showers. The helicopters will be delivered in 2005-2006.
Bell highlighted its Eagle Eye unmanned aerial vehicle and Eurocopter its lines of civil and military aircraft in Farnborough's exhibit halls and on the static display. BAE Systems Avionics Group also displayed its upgrade of the Mil Mi-24 Hind, marking the first time the modified aircraft appeared at an airshow. The upgrades will include an integrated Titan 385 Turret and a Sky Guardian Radar Warning Receiver.
BAE's display of the Hind provoked protests from some Russian aerospace officials, who said the company was not collaborating with the manufacturer, now known as the Moscow Helicopter Factory, on the helicopter upgrade. Other top Russian officials at the show reportedly countered that they were, in fact, working with BAE on the project.
Thales went home from Farnborough a winner after Geoff Hoon, U.K. defense secretary, revealed that the company has been selected as the preferred bidder to supply a UAV for the United Kingdom's $1.5-billion Watchkeeper program to provide tactical surveillance support for ground commanders. Thales beat out a team led by Northrop Grumman, which had proposed a system built around the Schweitzer-based FireScout rotary-wing UAV.
Farnborough opened with speculation that this year's air show might be the last. Society of British Aerospace Companies officials said the group was seriously considering whether a major air show was needed and desired by the aerospace industry. Despite those considerations, this year's event seemed to draw the industry's attention. The organizing society said the event was attended by 42 official military delegations and had 1,360 exhibitors, up from the 2002 show's total of 1,240. A total of 243,000 visitors attended the show, including 133,000 on the trade days from Monday to Friday and 110,000 on the public days over the weekend.
In other Farnborough news:
Bell delivered a new 430 to JJB Sports, PLC, of the United Kingdom immediately after the Farnborough Air Show, the company's second 430 and its fourth Bell helicopter overall. David Whelan, JJB Sports' chairman, said the company picked the 430 "because of its reliability, spacious cabin and smooth ride." The aircraft is powered by twin Rolls-Royce 250-C40 engines.
Sikorsky Aircraft and the U.S. government agreed to build eight UH-60L Black Hawks for the Royal Jordanian Air Force. Delivery of the aircraft would bring to 13 the number of Black Hawks operated by that service. The new aircraft are to enter into service in 2006. The aircraft will support all services of the Jordanian armed forces, including VIP transportation, armed helicopter support, utility, EMS, search-and-rescue and special operations.
BAE Systems said it had conducted the first shakedown flight of a day/night, all-weather visibility system being developed under the U.K. Ministry of Defence's CONDOR II helicopter technology demonstrator program.
The flight trials are being done on a British Army Air Corps Lynx operated by 667 (D&T) Squadron AAC at Middle Wallop, Hampshire. The equipment under trial includes BAE Systems' latest-generation LCD helmet-mounted display and a wide-field-of-view array of uncooled infrared and low-light sensors that are stitched and fused to project images of the outside world on the helmet's visor.
The system also incorporates BAE Systems' TERPROM(R) ground-collision and obstacle-avoidance software.
The Fisheries and Maritime Matters Department of the Xunta de Galicia in Spain purchased two S-76C+ helicopters equipped for search and rescue. Aircraft deliveries are planned for spring 2005. The Xunta de Galicia's SAR branch provides coastguard coverage off northwest Spain.
Helicopteros del Sureste in Spain took delivery of two new Bell 407s, which joined other Bell aircraft fighting fires in the mountains and forests of Northern Spain. Headquartered in Alicante on the South East Coast of Spain, Helicopteros del Sureste operates a fleet of more than 60 aircraft, 41 of which are Bell. Company officials said it is by far the largest helicopter operator in Spain.
NH90 Scores Oman Contract and Engine Certification
The NH90 recently achieved two notable successes: a contract award for 20 aircraft by the Royal Air Force of Oman, and civil type certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) of the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322-0/19 engine.
The NH90 utility helicopter has been ordered by 10 countries (345 firm orders, 86 options), but Oman is the first non-European customer. The aircraft is manufactured by NHIndustries of France. NHIndustries is comprised of three principal shareholders: Franco-German Eurocopter (62.5 percent), Italy's Agusta (32.5 percent), and the Netherlands's Stork Fokker (5.5 percent).
The Royal Air Force will use the NH90 for tactical transport, medevac and search-and-rescue missions. These aircraft will progressively enter into service in Oman by 2008, officials said.
The contract also includes a comprehensive support package that features field assistance at several military bases, training aids and mission preparation stations.
The RMT322-01/9 is a 2,428-shp engine that has been selected by nine out of ten NH90 customers to date, according to Turbomeca Chairman and CEO Emeric d'Arcimoles. Indeed, RTM322-0/19 production lines have been established in France, Germany, Finland, and Norway. The RTM322 also has been selected for 75 percent of EH101 orders, including the 14 aircraft recently ordered by the Japanese Defense Agency.
The 0/19 is the latest iteration of the RTM322 engine and features an increased-flow compressor. EASA's civil certification program included a 150-hour Type Test and Accelerated Mission Test. This subjected the engine to the equivalent of more than 3,000 hours of service operation, d'Arcimoles said. NH90 deliveries are scheduled to start early next year.
Air Methods Corporation (Nasdaq: AIRM) of Englewood, Colo., has placed an order for 15 Bell 427s. The twin-engine, IFR helicopters will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2007, at a minimum rate of three aircraft per year.
Air Methods provides emergency medical services to hospitals in more than 25 states and is the designated launch customer for the IFR variant of the 427. As such, the company is being permitted to recoup some of its initial investment in 15 Bell 222s by exchanging these helicopters for newer 427s. Air Methods currently operates 22 Bell 222s, 138 other helicopters and 15 fixed-wing aircraft.
"Our purchase agreement ensures full recovery of residual values for a majority of our Bell 222 fleet, while providing for a cost efficient solution for their ultimate replacement over the next several years," said the company's CEO, Aaron Todd.
The 427 IFR is expected to receive FAA certification during the fourth quarter of 2006; initial aircraft deliveries are to commence at the end of 2007.
This new configuration appears well-suited for emergency medical services, with single-pilot IFR capability, wide sliding doors, and dual patient capacity. Moreover, both medical personnel are positioned at each patient's head.
Bell has secured 47 purchase orders for the 427 IFR and anticipates 20 additional orders by the end of the year. The company recently signed collaboration agreements with Korea Aerospace Industries and Mitsui Bussan Aerospace Company for international development, certification, production, and marketing of the aircraft.
Vietnam to Host Helicopter Conference
The government of Vietnam will host its first international helicopter conference next month in Ho Chi Minh City. The conference is being run in conjunction with Helicopter Corporation (Australia) Pty. Ltd. (HCA), and will address the country's requirement for emergency medical services, search and rescue, and firefighting services and equipment. The helicopter corporation said that it has identified a requirement for four helicopters in EMS and SAR configuration, plus two helicopters for firefighting needs. People's Committee Chairmen and medical directors from each province have been invited to attend, along with 180 officials from government ministries. The conference will be held Oct. 26-27 at the Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers.
Boeing Delivers First Production F-Model Chinook
With Army aviation assets in extraordinarily high demand in Iraq and Afghanistan, Boeing recently announced that it has delivered, two months ahead of schedule, the first production CH-47F Chinook.
The aircraft will be used initially for flight demonstrations and is the first of seven Lot 1 deliveries. The remaining six aircraft, MH-47G Special Operations Chinooks, will be delivered by March 2005, company officials said.
Special Operations Chinooks are an overriding priority for the Army. Thus, Boeing will remanufacture 30 MH-47Gs before delivering its next CH-47F in 2006. In accord with Army aviation modernization requirements, Boeing will upgrade more than 300 D-model Chinooks to the fully modernized F-model configuration, thereby extending the aircraft's service life through at least 2030.
The Chinook first entered service with the U.S. Army in 1962 and is Boeing's longest running continuous production program. Twenty allied countries also employ the Chinook.
"This delivery continues Boeing's long history of producing and modernizing this vital aircraft for Army service and begins what is expected to be nearly 15 more years of business with our U.S. Army customer," said Patrick Shanahan, vice president and general manager, Boeing Rotorcraft Systems.
The latest F-model upgrade extends the service life of the aircraft and has numerous improvements, including: reduced vibration, improved avionics, and more powerful engines to enhance mission performance and reduces operation and maintenance costs. The aircraft's modernized cockpit provides better situational awareness and supports Army interoperability requirements, company officials said. Boeing delivered the first of two F-model engineering and manufacturing development prototypes in May 2002.
The Transportation Security Administration began screening passengers at all New York City heliports last month after a new federal terror alert identified helicopters there as potential terrorist weapons of mass destruction. Passenger screenings previously had been done by private security contractors.
The change was initiated after the Department of Homeland Security raised the terrorist threat level for the financial services sector in New York City, northern New Jersey and Washington, D.C. to Code Orange. The department cited "new and unusually specific information about where Al Qaida would like to attack...possibly employing commercial or general aviation aircraft, including helicopters."
In a bulletin sent to 18,000 police and law-enforcement officials nationwide, the FBI noted that "Al-Qaida has apparently considered the use of helicopters as an alternative to recruiting operatives for fixed-wing aircraft."
This sounds ominous, and it is; however, industry officials said that it is doubtful that anything can and will change as a result. After all, helicopter tour operators nationwide, and especially in New York City, have been alerted to the potential terrorist hijacking of their aircraft for at least the past three years.
"What seems to get lost in the bylines," said Roy Resavage, president of Helicopter Association International, "is the fact that the agencies keep saying, `There is no credible or specific evidence supporting the use of helicopters.'"
"This is nothing new," added New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- "to discover that an aircraft can be used as a weapon. If you try to get on a helicopter in New York City, you have to go through a magnetometer, and they look at your identification and they check everything you carry."
Defense Acquisition Board Gives Tentative Nod to V-22
The Pentagon's Defense Acquisition Board has given tentative approval to the V-22 Osprey, thus paving the way for operational evaluation (OPEVAL) testing in the first quarter of 2005. The Board will convene again in the fall of 2005 for a crucial Milestone III full-rate production decision. The review took place July 14; Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Michael Wynne signed the acquisition decision memorandum on July 26.
Wynne acknowledged that the V-22 program office has credibly addressed the many concerns raised by the Pentagon when the aircraft was grounded four years ago after two catastrophic crashes killed 23 Marines. These concerns include inter-service communication and coordination, aircraft reliability, maintainability, and survivability; and vortex ring state.
The program office completed a series of high-rate-of-descent tests last year to address concerns about vortex ring state. The upshot was a flight envelope that identifies precisely when this phenomenon sets in and what pilots can do to avert and fly out of it. The aircraft also has been fitted with an audible warning that warns of a vortex ring state stemming from too rapid a rate of descent.
"We know more about how vortex ring state affects the Osprey than we do any other aircraft in the history of aviation," said program manager Col. Craig Olson.
According to Wynne, the program office also has done a good job of coordinating aircraft deliveries, block upgrades and technology insertions among all of the services that are buying the Osprey. These include the Marine Corps (360 aircraft), Navy (48), Air Force, and Special Operations Command (50); but each service is buying a distinct Osprey variant.
GHI Converts Cobras to Fire Snakes For Washington DNR
GHI has finished converting the second of two ex-military Cobra helicopters into Fire Snakes for the Washington State Department of National Resources. The Washington DNR placed an order for the two aircraft last January after seeing earlier conversions done by the Hamilton, Mont.-based modification company.
The Cobras came from "10 to 20" AH-1s that Washington had obtained from the Army's mothball fleet at Ft. Drum, N.Y., according to Sam Bruno, GHI president and CEO.
Four of these aircraft were turned over to GHI, which then cannibalized them to make the two Fire Snakes. "We totally refurbished the aircraft, gutting them, taking the tail boom off, removing all unnecessary military wiring-which was almost 500 lb.-then put a bubble on the left side of the aircraft so the back seat pilot could look out and down," Bruno said. The aircraft also received a totally new avionics package with a customized instrument panel.
A BLR strake kit was installed and the cargo bay that had held the ammunition for the Cobra was extending for the Bambi Bucket. The nose compartment was also redesigned for the inverter and battery so that the front seat pilot, who serves as navigator, can disconnect the battery from inside the cockpit in the event of an emergency, Bruno said. Total cost of the conversion is about $220,000 per aircraft.
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) at Patuxent River, Maryland, was forced to suspend weapons testing of the AH-1Z Super Cobra in July after the aircraft suffered an over-torque of its drive train. The incident occurred during the final stage of testing and was triggered by rocket exhaust being sucked into the engine's intake after the launch of multiple 2.75-in. rockets.
The test pilots themselves did not sense a problem. "There was no discernable change in helicopter performance," said NAVAIR spokesman John Milliman. The malfunction was detected instead by ground engineers, who were monitoring the effects of the testing on various aircraft components. The engineers noticed a fluctuation in engine power and a consequent over-torque of the drive train.
In accordance with the test plan, the engineers halted testing and the pilots landed the aircraft without incident. The testing data now is being evaluated and plans are being developed to prevent this problem in the future. Program officials said they may modify the engine intakes or rocket pods and will reassess pilot tactics, techniques and procedures.
"There is a flight envelope where, if you're going fast enough, you can blow through all that exhaust before it gets sucked into your engines," Milliman said. The dimensions of that flight envelope, he noted, will be specified as program officials evaluate the test data.
Part of the problem is that in the area above the engine intake, the rotors don't generate much downward airflow. "They just protect the rotor yoke" for the first or three feet out, Milliman said. In fact, "there's actually reverse air flow in that region."
Engineers redesigned the Cobra's ducted exhaust assembly last spring in order to redirect engine exhaust away from the aircraft's tail boom. The Cobra has been fitted with more powerful GE T700 engines, which generate significantly more heat. This increased heat, in turn, was causing structural damage to the tail boon, thus necessitating the redesign.
According to the program office, the redesign of the exhaust assembly will significantly reduce the aircraft's IR signature; and it affects both the AH-1W and AH-1Z Super Cobras.
The Marine Corps AH-1W Cobra is in operational use in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. Flight testing of the redesigned component will commence next month, with the part retrofitted onto the older AH-1W aircraft beginning in March 2005.
The AH-1Z currently is undergoing its fourth (Block D) airframe modification. When that is completed next month, the aircraft will return to Yuma, Arizona, for additional weapons testing. Officials said the redesign of the Cobra's exhaust assembly may result in a four-month delay in operational evaluation (OPEVAL) testing, now scheduled to start in the spring of 2005.
Keystone Awarded Park Police Maintenance Contract
West Chester, Pa.-based Keystone Helicopter Corporation has been awarded its third consecutive contract by the U.S. Department of Interior to maintain the Park Police Aviation Unit helicopters in Washington, D.C. Keystone has been providing maintenance for the Park Police's two Bell 412s and a single 206L3 since 1989, and will continue to be provided on-site support for the helicopters at their Washington base.
Bell Test Flies New Tail Fan Demonstrator
Bell Helicopter Textron has achieved first flight of a new tail fan demonstrator. The demonstrator is being used to explore the flight characteristics of a protected, low-noise anti-torque device that the company hopes to employ in its planned Modular Affordable Product Line (MAPL).
According to Bell, the demonstrator lifted into a hover, performed some low-speed maneuvers (including pedal turns), and landed. The flight was achieved July 15 at Bell's new XworX research center in Arlington, Texas. A comprehensive test flight program involving the demonstrator will be conducted at XworX and also in Leadville, Colo., for high-altitude performance data.
"This is an extension of protected anti-torque development work that Bell started in the 1970s," said CEO Michael Redenbaugh. "We are developing a tail rotor for our customers that will be quieter, more effective, and more reliable, with lower operating costs."
The demonstrator is an experimental Bell 407, whose 65-in. diameter tail rotor has been replaced with 40-in. diameter fan and duct. The tail fan incorporates technology developed during bench testing completed earlier this year and has been designed to allow testing in multiple duct configurations. Multiple duct configurations allow for performance and acoustic data when the aircraft is in hover and forward flight, Bell officials said.
"This aircraft is easy to fly; the workload in hover is very low," said the test pilot, Jim McCollough. The tail fan is "practically inaudible," he added. According to observers, "you can occasionally hear a purring sound."
MAPL was conceived as a family of single- and twin-engine light helicopters that will provide "breakthrough productivity gains" for Bell customers. Specifically, Bell aspires to achieve 20 percent productivity gains via speed and useful-load improvements, a 20 percent reduction in operating costs, a 10-dB noise reduction and 99 percent dispatch reliability.
Toward that end, the company is working to develop the requisite technologies. These include a new main rotor, drive train, autopilot and noise control. An advanced rotor demonstrator is scheduled to fly by the end of the year, said Bell spokesman Michael Cox.
The first aircraft in the MAPL family is expected to be available in 2008; however, Bell also is working on a plan to insert MAPL technology into its existing product lines. The 427 IFR likely will be the first Bell aircraft to be fitted with MAPL technologies, Cox said.
Copterline Achieves 10K Flight Hours with S-76C+
One of the world's newest and most successful helicopter shuttle services, Copterline, has exceeded 10,000 flight hours, while achieving an overall dispatch rate of 99.7 percent during the past four years, courtesy of Sikorsky's S-76C+.
"I am more than happy with the performance and reliability of this fine helicopter," said Copterline's managing director, Kari Ljungberg.
The Finland-based carrier ferries passengers to and from Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia. Copterline links the two capital cities with 14 scheduled flights to each locale, Monday through Friday. Service continues on the weekends, albeit with fewer flights. The bottom line: 170 flights per week and more than 35,000 flights since the company commenced operations in May 2000.
Copterline had been averaging 200 flight hours per month; however, the figure recently has climbed to 220 hr. per month because of an increase in passenger demand, Ljungberg said. The S-76C+ carries 12 passengers; and the 18-minute flight saves travelers more than two hours each way over a commercial, fixed-wing airline that services Helsinki and Tallinn.
Copterline is a JAA-licensed operator and maintenance center with 98 employees and nine helicopters. In addition to its two S-76C+ aircraft, the company also flies Eurocopter's BO105, EC135 and AS350B3 Ecureuils; Bell's JetRanger; and Hughes 300 and 500-series rotorcraft.
The S-76C+ is used for the shuttle service. The company's remaining 12 helicopters are employed for other missions, including emergency medical services, power line inspections, training, and search and rescue.
Other airlines that use the S-76 for passenger service include East Asia Airlines of Macau, Heli Hong Kong, HeliJet Airways of Canada, and HelikopterService AB. According to Sikorsky, more than 550 S-76 helicopters are employed by 192 operators in 44 countries.
Grizzly Takes Second K-MAX
Grizzly Mountain Aviation has taken delivery of its second Kaman K-MAX helicopter for use in its logging, fire fighting and power line construction contracts. The Prinefille, Ore.-based company purchased its first K-MAX helicopter in 2002 and has been operating it around 2,000 hr. annually in support of its logging operations. The second machine "will significantly increase our logging and fire-fighting capabilities," according to Mark Stafford, president of Grizzly Mountain Aviation.
Roger Wassmuth, director of K-MAX marketing and business development, said that, "The additional K-MAX will enable (Grizzly) to handle an increasing workload and move into new markets such as power line construction." He added that the helicopter has been having success in fire fighting as well as fire prevention. "The K-MAX can be used effectively to thin the forest, thereby reducing the dangerous fuels and also to fight fires when and where they occur, especially in hot and high conditions." The helicopter has a 5,000 lb. on-the-hook lift capacity at 8,000 ft. and 6,000 lb. on-the-hook capacity at lower altitudes, he said.
South Korea Expected to Award $8.6-Billion Helo Contract
South Korea is expected to award an $8.6-billion contract for the procurement of 477 new multipurpose attack helicopters this month.
According to the South Korean Defense Ministry, the field of contenders was narrowed down from five to three companies in July. Boeing and Sikorsky, with their AH-64 Apache and S-92 variants, respectively, were eliminated. Bell, Eurocopter, and AgustaWestland made the cut.
Bell is offering a 427-model Huey-Cobra rebuild; Eurocopter a modified EC155 Dauphin; and AgustaWestland an upgraded Super Lynx or AB129.
The procurement is unique in that it aims to combines into one aircraft an attack and utility cargo helicopter. This may be economical, but defense and industry analysts are skeptical that it can be achieved.
"The Cobra/Huey aircraft is the only case where this has been done successfully; and that was in a previous era," said aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group. "Today, few militaries regard the Huey as an adequate squad transport."
The South Korean government also wants the manufacturer to partner with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the development of a more robust indigenous Korean defense aviation sector.
Indian Dhruv Helo Making Inroads in Chile and Israel
The Israeli and Chilean militaries have expressed serious interest in procuring India's Dhruv Advance Light Helicopter. The Dhruv is manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and features an avionics system and glass cockpit built by Israel Aircraft Industries, Ltd.
As a co-producer of the aircraft, Israeli Aircraft Industries can purchase the Dhruv at a discounted rate. The company would like to use the helicopter for a contract that it expects to receive soon from the Israeli Air Force for VIP transport missions.
Four Dhruv helicopters were flight demonstrated for the Chilean military in July. The helicopters flew in different terrain and weather and in high-altitude and long-distance flights. The aircraft's maximum internal load, maximum internal load with sling, avionics and systems, vertical rate of climb and descent, all were demonstrated. The Chilean military is interested in acquiring the Dhruv for troop transport, patrol and search and rescue missions.
It took four months, but the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) finally has appointed a new president and CEO: Edward M. Bolen. Bolen had been president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). He is a long-time fixture in national politics, having started his career as legislative director for former Senator Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kans.). President Clinton appointed Bolen to serve as a member of the FAA's management advisory council in 2000; one year later, President Bush appointed him to serve on the 12-member Commission on the Future of the Aerospace Industry. Bolen replaces NBAA interim president and CEO Donald E. Baldwin effective September 7. Shelley A. Longmuir had been NBAA president and CEO until stepping down last April.
One of the helicopter industry's brightest and most endearing stars, Michelle North, passed away June 11 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. North enjoyed a distinguished career as a helicopter pilot and had extensive involvement in aviation safety, training and education. Indeed, she taught numerous flight instructor refresher courses and was a past chairman of the Helicopter Association International Safety Committee.
North also served for more than 20 years in the California Army National Guard as an aviation safety officer and UH-60 Black Hawk medevac pilot. In the civilian world, she was a pilot for Commodore Helicopters in San Francisco and a past vice president and safety director for Rocky Mountain Helicopters. While at Rocky Mountain, North flew as a Life Flight pilot for Stanford University and the University of California Davis Medical Center. She held two masters degrees and a doctorate in psychology.
Bell Helicopter Textron has promoted Lt. Col. Mark Gibson (Ret.) to the newly created position of Vice President for Advanced
Concept Development. Gibson is a former Marine AH-1 Cobra pilot; he has been with Bell since retiring from the Corps in 1999. Gibson first served as industry lead on the V-22 action support team, which was responsible for direct support to Headquarters Marine Corps, before being tapped as director, advanced concept development. He has a background in expeditionary and joint future rotorcraft, having served as the fist Marine ever to command an Army aviation (Apache) unit. Gibson also developed Bell's 20-year strategic roadmap for military programs.
John L. Bean has been named senior vice president of Bell Helicopter Textron's government business unit. He replaces Gen. Terry Dake (Ret.), the former Marine who retired from Bell last summer. Bean most recently served as vice president and general manager for F-16 programs for Lockheed Martin in Ft. Worth, Texas. He joined the Ft. Worth division of General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) in 1978, after receiving his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas in Austin. Bean has an FAA commercial and instrument pilot's rating with 1,700 hours of flight time in both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, including 200 hours in the F-16.
Helicopter Association International (HAI) has a new board of directors for the 2004-2005 term that began July 1: Roy M. Simmons, Chairman; Timothy Wahlberg, Vice Chairman; G. Edward Newton, Jr., Treasurer; Timothy H. Voss, Assistant Treasurer; Patrick Corr, commercial sector representative; Newton and J. Steve Sabree, corporate sector reps; Ted Dumont, special advisor emeritus; and Timothy M. Biddle, special legal advisor. Simmons, Wahlberg, Newton, Dumont, and Biddle are all long-standing members of the Board; Voss, Corr and Sabree are newly elected representatives. HAI is the professional trade association for the civil helicopter industry. The group boasts 1,350-plus member organizations and 1,150 individual members in 73 countries.
Oct. 12-14-National Business Aviation Association 57th Annual Meeting & Convention, Las Vegas, Nev. Contact NBAA Conventions & Seminars Dept., 202-783-9283; fax 202-331-8364; web site: www.nbaa.org.
Oct. 15-17-Eastern Region Helicopter Council Annual General Membership meeting, Malvern, Pa. Desmond Hotel and Conference Center. Contact Cliff Whiting. 516-987-0739; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; web site: www.erhc.org
Oct. 18-21-HELMOT XI (Helicopter Military Operations), Williamsburg, Virginia. Contact Jerry Irvine, U.S. Army AATD, Fort Eustis, Virginia, 757-878-3272; fax 757-878-1323; e-mail email@example.com. Website: www.ahs-hrc.org/helmot
Oct. 25-27-Air Medical Transport Conference, Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati Convention Center. Convention Hotel: Hilton Netherlands Plaza. Contact: Natasha Ross, 703-836-8732; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.aams.org
Oct 26-27--Vietnam International Helicopter Conference, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Contact: Peter Osborne; telephone 61-(0)-88-274-3761; Fax 61-(0)-88-373-0963; e-mail: email@example.com; web site:www.helicoptercorp.com.
Nov. 16-19 Emergency Response 2004, San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, Calif. Sponsored by Rotor & Wing. Contact: Susan Cuevas, (301) 354-1667; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.emergencyresponseshow.com.
Dec. 6-9-Dubai Helishow 2004, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Contact Julia Cuthbert, 44-(0)1293 823779; e-mail: email@example.com.
Feb. 6-8-HELI-EXPO 2005, Anaheim, Calif. Contact Marilyn McKinnis, the Helicopter Association International, Alexandria, Virginia, 703-683-4646; fax 703-683-4745; web www.rotor.com; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.