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March 1, 2010
It requires no great leap of faith to accept that the business of flying offshore oil & gas operations can be safer in some parts of the world than in others. Developing new energy resources is an ever-more challenging task and, to get the stuff out of the ground, partnerships often have to be struck with governments, national oil companies and helicopter operators who might not be as familiar with...
March 1, 2010
Initiatives from various parts of the world were discussed at the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)’s third rotorcraft symposium in Cologne, Germany in December. Offshore operations are still a major focus, but some speakers warned that real problems may be somewhat below the radar—at small operators and/or in remote areas. Vittorio Morassi, chairman of newEHA, gave an updated picture of...
March 1, 2010
There were at least two factors behind last year’s decision to terminate the funding for the U.S. Air Force’s Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR-X) aircraft. The first was the obvious one that it saved money by an incoming president eager for quick wins. It meant not beginning another procurement chain and not re-starting a program that still had a lingering bitter aftertaste following the win by...
March 1, 2010
I recently attended an aerial firefighting conference in Rome, Italy. The food was great, the people are wonderful, but I managed somehow. Conference attendees came from all aspects of aerial firefighting. Great discussions were held in the conference itself and more importantly in the bar. One bar comment comes from an observation over the last 40 years. I don’t drink, not a big deal, I never did...
February 1, 2010
Services | Financing Although helicopter financing is in the doldrums compared to the boom years, some experts predict a recovery beginning in the second half of this year. The current chill followed a prolonged period of hot and heady days from 2004 through much of 2008, when user demand and helicopter shortages fueled a pricing bubble and financing terms hit historic lows. The bubble burst in late 2008...
February 1, 2010
Military | Government Agencies It’s nice to have friends in high places, and helicopters have one in the Pentagon, the chief of the Army Department’s aviation division assured the annual Association of the United States Army aviation symposium. Buying more helicopters and unmanned aerial...
February 1, 2010
Training | Icing The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) SW-08-03R1 on Jan. 11. The alert describes practices intended to help reduce the chances of an in-flight engine shutdown related to a helicopter taking on ice and snow. Among the guidelines in the report are for...
February 1, 2010
Commercial | ATC Air traffic controllers in Houston have started using automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) to monitor, manage and separate aircraft over the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood notes the...
February 1, 2010
Products | Technology Researchers at NASA Langley have tested a “deployable energy absorber,” by dropping a helicopter from 35 feet above the ground. The device, which features an expandable honeycomb-design cushion, was tested with the help of a U.S. Army Applied Physics Laboratory-donated MD500, four crash test dummies and a 240-foot structure that was previously used to teach astronauts how...
February 1, 2010
Military | Technology The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) hosted a Jan. 14 workshop in Arlington, Va. related to a broad agency announcement (BAA) for the Transformer (TX) program. Government representatives explained the vision and objectives of the program—to develop a ground-based vehicle that...
January 1, 2010
Since 1976 the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), a voluntary program that encourages reports from aviation personnel including helicopter pilots and mechanics, has received hundreds of thousands of submissions. The ASRS receives the reports, processes and analyzes them, and in particular addresses human factors aspects of performance in the aviation system. The ASRS states its objective is to...
January 1, 2010
Military | Airframes The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)’s Tactical Airlift, Adversary and Support Programs (PMA-207) handed over four new Mi-17 helicopters to the...
January 1, 2010
Public Service | Police The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) combined its aviation assets with high technology and coordinated efforts with ground forces to protect dignitaries and the city of Pittsburgh from potentially violent anti-government demonstrators. The demonstrators were in Pittsburgh last September to protest against the G-20 Economic Summit. Axsys Technologies V14 MSII gyro-stabilizer on the...
January 1, 2010
One of the benefits of being a consultant in the helicopter industry is interacting with great people. Aussies, Brits or folks from Amman, helicopter people share a zest for life that’s hard to match. I derive particular joy in spending time in the company of serving military officers. They fly neat stuff, tell good stories and allow us to sleep at night, knowing that they are guarding both our front...
January 1, 2010
In my last article we discussed the mid-air collision of a Eurocopter AS350BA with a Piper 32R-300 over the Hudson River Exclusion Area that claimed the lives of nine people. Although the NTSB investigation is still ongoing, there has been progress in making the skies over New York City safer. Let me report first of all, that there has been much speculation on what happened and what to do about it. Some...
January 1, 2010
Several recent events involving air traffic control surveillance come to mind. They involved aircraft not in radio contact with ATC. During the episode involving Northwest Airlines 188 (NW188), air traffic controllers surveilled an aircraft they could not communicate with for 90 minutes. Aside from the lack of communication and its unpredictable flight path when it overflew its destination by 150 miles...
December 1, 2009
Commercial | Airframes U.S. and European aviation safety agencies have issued airworthiness directives (ADs) requiring inspection of the section of the Sikorsky S-92 that connects the main gearbox to the...
December 1, 2009
Commercial | Air Traffic Control New FAA rules governing the airspace over the Hudson and East rivers around New York City went into effect on Nov. 19. The agency created an exclusionary zone to separate helicopters and seaplanes from aircraft flying over the rivers. The airspace changes come two months after an Aug. 8 midair collision involving a Eurocopter AS350B2 and a Piper PA32 over the Hudson. Nine...
December 1, 2009
The year is drawing to a close. I’ve heard many say they can’t wait for this year to be over. In general, certainly in reference to the economy, I have to agree. Looking back over the year in rotorcraft there have been some highs and lows. One issue has to remain top of mind. Crashes in the helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) industry, especially those with fatalities, continue to...
November 1, 2009
In this issue you will find the winners of the 2009 Rotor & Wing Helicopter Heroism Awards. Being new to the rotor world, I have to say that reading these submissions and learning about the events for which our winners were chosen, left me awestruck. The skills to complete the rescues we chose are at a level few will ever experience. Two groups and one individual were chosen among many entries. First...
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