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Monday, October 1, 2007

Show Preview: A Look at the Technical Aspects

James Careless

It takes more than a rotor and dependable engine to fly. Helitech highlights products that help keep flight safe and reliable.

HELITECH OFFERS THE LATEST CHANCE FOR OPERATORS IN EUROPE to get rundowns from manufacturers on the status of their next generation of aircraft, as well as current products and what they and vendors are doing to support and improve them.

The latest edition, the 12th, of the biennial show at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, near Cambridge, England, comes as airframe manufacturers are in the first stages of what is traditionally a 10-year cycle to define and develop new helicopters. So, in addition to briefing visitors on the status of aircraft programs like Bell Helicopter and AgustaWestland’s BA609 civil tilt-rotor, Robinson Helicopter’s R66, and Sikorsky Aircraft’s S-76D, manufacturers will be gathering intelligence (and perhaps sharing information) on other potential aircraft. These include Bell’s new medium twin, Sikorsky’s X-2 Technology-based products, and its Schweizer Aircraft subsidiary’s new Model 434 turbine, based on the dynamics of the U.S. Navy/Army Fire Scout unmanned air vehicle.

In addition to those matters, here’s a summary of what to look for at Helitech. You can find more at www.rotorandwing.com, in Rotor & Wing’s pre-show electronic newsletters, and in our daily newsletters at the show.

Sky Connect LLC (www.skyconnect.com) helped pioneer the use of Iridium satellites for airborne tracking and communications. Today, there are more than 2,000 aircraft using the company’s equipment. It claims to be the No. 1 Iridium provider for offshore helicopter operators in the Gulf of Mexico. "Our Iridium interface devices for voice calling, texting, and tracking are uniquely designed for minimizing flight crew workload," said Sky Connect’s Wiley Loughran, vice president for sales and marketing. "In fact, our premium mission management unit was designed by working closely with one of the biggest offshore oil operators to facilitate the use of fast two-way text messaging, which keeps their dispatchers fully informed about every flight in real-time." Visit Sky Connect at Booth 1405.

AeroSimulators (www.aerosimulators.com) can be found at Booth 1608. A European/American corporation devoted entirely to helicopter flight simulation, it prides itself on innovation and the integration of helicopter-peculiar ancillary systems for law enforcement and emergency medical services. Additional products include AeroSimulators’ Optical Crew Resource Analyzer (OCRA), an eye-tracking and recording system that can be an invaluable tool for instrument training. Aerosimulators’ latest simulation system is the Gimbal Imaging System Trainer (GIST), which simulates the Wescam MX-15 and FLIR Systems gimbal-mounted sensors. "The unique capability that resides within AeroSimulators is our ability to custom-build any aircraft that a customer may fly," said Mike Coligny, CEO of AeroSimulators US. The company’s products come with standard 170 horizontal by 75 vertical degree wrap-around, rear-projected, out-the-window views that provides accurate situational and positional awareness."

Simplex Manufacturing (www.simplexmfg.com) is featuring its new Fire Attack Storm Tank (FAST) at Booth 1407. This lightweight, fully collapsible design with multi-drop capability gives firefighting pilots the latest technology available to maximize their performance, according to the company. The bucket is accompanied by the cockpit control box that will simulate adjustable flow rate and volume. Simplex’s new line of bucket sizes range from 160- to 1,000-gal (605-3,785 l) capacities. "We have been looking for a good fit to complement our existing line of Big Dipper firefighting buckets and the FAST water bucket system is the perfect match," said David George, Simplex’s director of sales.

Based at Booth 614, BLR Aerospace (www.BLRaerospace.com) is displaying its patented dual tailboom strake and FastFin technologies. These are aimed at improving the safety and operational characteristics of civilian and military rotorcraft. BLR holds more than 60 supplemental type certificates for helicopter, business and general aviation aircraft performance modifications. BLR is actively pursuing additional certifications on several popular light and medium helicopters.

MD Helicopters (www.mdhelicopters.com), at Chalet 4, is again highlighting its NOTAR anti-torque system and its effects on noise levels, safety, and insurance rates. "Today MD Helicopters is a strong, viable company with a core of world-class operational talent, and a product line that customers love,’ said Chairman and CEO Lynn Tilton. Having made 10 aircraft deliveries to date this year, MD said it is ramping up for an additional 33 by year’s end and 85 aircraft during 2008.

AgustaWestland (www.agustawestland.com) is highlighting its helicopters, the BA609 civil tilt-rotor having returned to flight tests following its appearance at this year’s Paris Air Show. Slated for the show are the light single-engine AW119 Ke, the light-twin AW109 Power and Grand (a.k.a. the AW109S), and the popular, 15-seat medium twin AW139. The company this year re-branded its products, including the EH101, with the prefix AW to reflect the integration of its Italian Agusta and U.K. Westland components. The company is at Chalet 5.

CMC Electronics (www.cmcelectronics.ca) is showcasing its aviation electronics at Booth 1201. CMC is introducing its TacView portable mission display for military applications at the show.

Bose (www.bose.com) is displaying its acoustic noise cancelling headsets at Booth 1401. Proprietary AdaptiSense headset circuitry allows for at least 40 hr. of use from just two AA alkaline batteries. The headset weighs only 340 grams (12 oz).

Turbomeca (www.turbomeca.com) can be found at Booth 1602. In the last year, it has supported re-engining of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Eurocopter HH-65C fleet and fielding of the U.S. Army’s UH-72A (based on the Eurocopter EC145), and has progressed in development of the Shakti engine for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.’s Dhruv. "To meet growing demand, Turbomeca is growing," said Emeric d’Arcimoles, Turbomeca’s chairman and CEO. "We have expanded our Turbomeca USA facilities in Grand Prairie, Texas as part of a global expansion to meet customer demand."

Swesystem AB (www.swesystem.se) is showcasing a new, multi-purpose airborne camera system at Booth 2016. Its Explore series is aimed at meeting the needs, among others, of pipeline and powerline inspection operators, said Managing Director Daniel Johansson.

Eurocopter (www.eurocopter.com) is at Booth 1106 with its distributor McAlpine Helicopters Ltd. showing a range of para-public, police, and corporate helicopters. The EC155 is the latest Eurocopter model in the 5-ton class, and is already being widely used by operators for coastal surveillance and as a large-size corporate VIP helicopter.

Honeywell’s Skyforce Div. (www.skyforceobserver.com) is exhibiting its range of mission systems at Booth 808 and previewing the Sentinel entry-level system for helicopter operators who need high-resolution mapping, traffic and weather interfaces.

L-3 Wescam (www.wescam.com; Booth 601) is spotlighting its MX- series modular family of turreted EO/IR/Laser surveillance and targeting systems. The product series is designed to capture stabilized, high-magnification images from moving platforms for low-altitude tactical missions and long-range covert surveillance missions.

At Booth 1012, Rolls-Royce (www.rolls-royce.com) is displaying the Model 250, the CTS800, RTM322, and the newest addition to the fleet, the RR300. "This will be the first time that we’ve displayed the new RR300 in the U.K. and we expect a lot of interest in it," says Scott Crislip, president of Rolls-Royce’s helicopter business.

Scandinavian Avionics A/S (www.scanav.com) is presenting the Thrane & Thrane Aero-HSD+, Aero-C and Aero-M Inmarsat satcom and Tracking Systems at Booth 1810.

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