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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Heli-Expo Show Day: AFS Gains Certification For AS350 Inlet Filters

James Careless

AEROSPACE FILTRATION SYSTEMS IS displaying its newly certified inlet barrier filters at Booth 4013.

Designed for the Eurocopter AS350 powered by either Turbomeca Arriel or Honeywell LTS1010 engines, the inlet barrier filter can be installed without modification to the engine cowl and without downloads to calculate, according to the manufacturer.

The system features a sealed engine intake plenum that replaces the sand filter, engine air particle separator, or alternate barrier filter. The Aerospace Filtration system includes an integral bypass system with a rear-facing bypass door and breathable plenum to reduce the chance of debris entering the engine.

A switch in the cockpit operates the bypass system.

According to Aerospace Filtration, a growing number of AS350 operators are protecting their helicopters with its inlet barrier filters. Operators worldwide have made more than 75 installations of the new filters since their certification by U.S. and Canadian authorities last year, it said. One, Dwight Jones, owner of Mountain Air Helicopters in Santa Fe, N.M., calls the filters "the very best air inlet protection available."

"The system is simple to maintain," Jones said. "We operate our helicopters in some very extreme conditions, with the majority of our landings on unimproved helispots in mountainous, high desert areas where dust, dirt and sand are a constant worry."

Mountain Air Helicopters specializes in firefighting and other utility work in New Mexico’s hot and high terrain, arguably some of the toughest environments for helicopter operations.

"Smoke, ash, and other contaminants related to the fire environment produce additional engine air hazards," he said. "These contaminants are power robbers and at the altitudes we work, we need all the engine power we can get."

With satisfactory power checks, Aerospace Filtration said, AS350s equipped with its filters can operate to basic inlet charts with no flight or gross-weight restrictions. The flight manual supplement for Arriel-powered AS350 filters permits operation to basic inlet or sand filter performance charts, it said, depending on engine health and filter condition.

Aerospace Filtration filters are certified for most commercial and military helicopters and widely used by U.S. military helicopters in combat environments in the Middle East.

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