Tuesday, July 5, 2011
French Precision Tooling Firm Branches Out Into Helicopter Development
Fameck, France-based Serolor, a company that specializes in precision tooling for metallurgy applications, has started developing a turbine-powered two-seat helicopter that will first be offered as a kit for amateur construction. Heli Air Design, the offshoot company created by Serolor to take over the project, was planning—as of June 30—to fly the HAD1-T Helineo in a hover by the end of July. Ultimately, it has plans for full EASA CS-27 certification.
Serolor display the Helineo at the Paris Air Show in June. It features a three-blade main rotor, an airframe made of metal and composites and one 160-shp Solar T62 T-32 turboshaft. In fact, the T62 is mostly known as an auxiliary power unit (APU) and is no longer produced. Managing director Thierry André said that this should not be a concern, as there are thousands of T62s on the second-hand market. “We will take care of overhauling these APUs,” he added.
For the Helineo, Heli Air Design claims a maximum speed (VNE) of 108 kts, a ceiling of 16,400 feet and an empty weight of 815 lbs. The first standard will be developed under Europe’s CNSK2 kit rules (1,540 lbs of MTOW). A second step will obtain certification under the European Light Aircraft (ELA) regulation (1,320 lbs of MTOW). Finally, CS-27 certification is scheduled for 2013.
The first kit should be delivered to its customer in the first quarter of 2012. “Buyers should plan for 400 hours of construction; we will assist them,” André said. In particular, the main gearbox will be handed over as an assembled, fully set component. The helicopter kit’s list price is expected to be close to €250,000 ($350,000). In flying club-type activity, André predicts the cost of operation will be around €250 ($350) per hour. Production capacity will reach 20–30 aircraft per year eventually. A challenge will be to have a dependable supply chain, André noted. But he is confident Serolor has the right know-how in mechanical manufacturing and industrial processes.