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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Feedback: November 2009

Specialized NVG Ratings

This paragraph is from a Rotor & Wing article, “NVGs Made Simple,” that ran in the September 2009 issue, on page 38:

NVG Repair – There are several certified FAA Part 145 service centers that can repair, maintain and perform 180-day airworthiness inspections on NVGs and their subcomponents as specified in RTCA/DO-275. For small or medium size organizations that may not have the technical staff or equipment, these Part 145 repair stations can provide a turnkey cost advantage.

A correction is that there is only one FAA Part 145 NVG repair station in the U.S., and that is Night Flight Concepts repair station # N5ZR113B with specific ratings of Specialized Service and Limited Accessories for night vision goggles. There are other FAA Part 145 facilities, leading people to believe they can certify NVGs, but that is false. Just having Part 145 does not authorize capabilities with NVGs. Those facilities can and do return NVGs after a 180-day inspection with a Certificate of Conformance, not an FAA 8130-3 or equivalent. This is a huge issue currently in the NVG industry and is being addressed as we speak. Other than that, this was an informative article and I’m glad to see more NVG information being forwarded to the industry.

David Luke
VP of Night Flight Retail & Maintenance Night Vision Goggle SME
Night Flight Concepts Co-Founder

Market for Bell 429

The “dark days” at Bell (See “The Bell 429: A New Hope,” September 2009, page 28) should be considered when they started to only upgrade existing models without bringing in modern concepts like the flat floor cabin (i.e. the AS350, the nearest competitor of the 206 series).

Now, with both feet on the thin red line, Bell finally invested in the 429, which should be a good contender. But the Eurocopter EC135 and EC145 are already there, and the AgustaWestland AW109S and AW139 are there too. Which segment of the market will stay with Bell? In my opinion, operators having spent many years with Bell products, and willing to keep on, will stay with Bell. Sorry for Bell, but it may be less than the pile of letters of intent!

Capt. Jean Bizot

Military SAR Unit

The acquisition of the four AW139 helicopters for the Trinidad & Tobago Air Guard (See “Five AW139s Join Order Book,” September 2009, page 20) actually does not signify “the establishment of the first SAR helicopter unit” in Trinidad & Tobago.

National Helicopter Services Ltd., a government state enterprise which currently operates a small fleet of Sikorsky S-76A++, S-76C++ and Eurocopter BO105 CBS-4 rotorcraft, has been providing SAR operations for more than 25 years in Trinidad & Tobago, when back in 1982 the government initially acquired two Sikorsky S-76A aircraft for this purpose. Since then, with several additions to the fleet, these aircraft and missions were flown by civilian pilots and that ‘unit’ provided air support locally and regionally in many of the areas that the new Air Guard unit shall soon fulfill, including SAR, medical transfers, disaster relief, etc.

It would then be safe to say, the AW139 acquisition signifies the establishment of the first military SAR helicopter unit in Trinidad & Tobago. My personal heartfelt respect and admiration for these pilots and crew members who operated above and beyond the call. It was great to have been part of the team.

Ricardo G. Moreno
Helicopter Aircrewman/EMT (Ret.)

Fixing the V-22

All in all, the R&D in rotorcraft is not the best these days. What can you say about high-speed helicopters? Non-existant! Sure, we can arm and weigh down the models of today, but where’s the speed research?

With the V-22 (See “V-22: It’s Time to Move On,” August 2009, page 48), here’s an aircraft that was once a concept, and has gone through failures.

In 2009, we can document everything easily, but in 1958, where are the documented faults? Keep in mind our knowledge of today does not agree with the experimental development of today. We have a whole book of tricks to use to fix problems, but we now have extremely controlled budgets. The taxpayer sees the money involved, the engineer sees the Swiss Army knife of the military, and the wounded soldier sees the speed of the V-22. It did have expensive and fatal problems, but one step at a time, these are getting worked out.

There’s no way to solve unknown problems, we need to put a new concept into use to figure out the problems, then we will fix them and reduce costs when we understand it all. The V-22 might not be the best thing available, but wait until the second-generation V-22, or third.

Put yourself in the mind of a soldier with one good leg, one bloody half of a leg, and then you hear the Taliban approaching. When you hear “they are five miles out,” would you want to hear 140 knots or more than 200 knots?

Name Withheld
Former V-22 Engineer

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