Thursday, June 1, 2006
Insurance Tumult Means Consumer Gains, Problems for Safety Initiatives
Insurance companies will soon be fighting for helicopter operators' business, driving premiums down and pumping more underwriting dollars into the market, according a top aviation insurance broker.
Larry Mattiello, president of the brokerage Airsure Limited, said musical chairs among top insurance executives and the high level of activity across the board in helicopter operations are combining to lure insurers that have shunned the general aviation market. With just a handful of insurers in the market, operators had to fight recently just to get coverage and swallow premium increases in the process.
"For the next two years as a consumer, you're about to have one of the best rides of your life watching aviation insurance companies battle for your business," he told operators gathered in Dallas May 4 for a safety forum hosted by FlightSafety International. Mattiello said the developing situation is unprecedented "in my nearly 30 years in the business."
Since the start of the year, top executives of major insurers like USAIG have retired only to start up new operations targeting aviation markets. At the same time, said Mattiello (who also serves as insurance advisor to the Helicopter Assn. International), property-and-casualty insurers that have avoided aviation are on the prowl for experienced underwriters to help them set up aviation units.
While that may be good financial news for operators, it may undercut efforts to raise safety standards. Leaders of the International Helicopter Safety Team have pointed to lower premiums based on strong training, equipment and safety records as one motivation for operators to get behind their drive to lower helicopter accident rates 80 percent in 10 years.
Likewise, operators who through stringent training, equipment and operational requirements have gained the financial edge of lower premiums over less diligent competitors may see that edge dulled.
"In order to get their portfolios up and cash flowing," Mattiello said, insurers "will compromise underwriting standards to get that business. I'm afraid that's going to happen to extremes. It will be a problem. Other drivers, other motivators in the insurance financial world" than training, equipment and operating records will come into play in setting premiums.
U.S. Army Eyes Bigger ARH Buy
U.S. Army officials are looking to acquire 112 more Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters than originally planned from Bell Helicopter. The Army last July awarded a Bell-led team a contract to provide 368 by 2013 under a program valued at $2.2 billion. In late April, industry sources said, Army officials indicated they wanted the total acquisition bumped up to 480.
Lt. Col. Neil Thurgood, the Army's ARH program manager, referenced the high number in an ARH briefing at the American Helicopter Society International's Forum 62 May 9 in Phoenix. "The original buy for the ARH was 368 aircraft," he said. "It's now 480 aircraft."
He stressed afterwards that the change is tentative pending higher approvals. But ARH team members seemed less tentative. In fact, as Thurgood spoke at the Forum, Rockwell Collins' web site said the Bell-led team "will design, test, produce and deliver 480 ARHs to the U.S. Army."
"One hundred 12," one top Bell official at the Forum said. "That's a lot of aircraft."
That development came in a good week for the ARH program. A 925-shp Honeywell HTS900-1 engine underwent its first ground run in an ARH prototype on May 8 and the dual-centrifugal compressor for the upgraded, 970-shp HTS900-2 for the aircraft completed its first rig test May 5. Bell later moved the first ARH prototype from the factory floor to a flight hangar at its XworX facility in Arlington, Texas in preparation for first flight within three months.
FAA Decision to Bring Weather, Comm Services to Gulf of Mexico
Offshore operators in the Gulf of Mexico have finally convinced the U.S. FAA to provide communications and weather-reporting services in the region, though their success came in a roundabout way.
GoMex operators working with the Helicopter Assn. International have prodding the aviation agency to adopt an inexpensive plan to close the weather and communications services gap. That plan called for the FAA to invest a small amount of money--initially about $12 million--to immediately install weather-reporting and comm gear on platforms in the Gulf. In exchange, platform operators offered the space for the gear and helicopter companies offered transportation for installation and maintenance crews, both free. They couldn't get the FAA to bite.
Enter Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B), an air traffic system that UPS--nearly alone among airlines--has been trumpeting. The system's proved its worth in Alaska, where radar coverage is sparse. Now the FAA has decided to make the GPS satellite-based ADS-B, which allows equipped aircraft to talk with ATC and track surrounding traffic and get weather updates, the foundation of its next-generation ATC system. The FAA has asked for $80 million in its Fiscal 2007 budget to begin initial ADS-B implementation.
One of the first applications, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said at a May 2 FAA headquarters briefing, will be in the Gulf of Mexico. HAI President Matt Zuccaro, at Blakey's side, praised the move. The area in which offshore operators fly, roughly 250X500 mi., has an average of 650 helicopters making 7,500 trips a day to 5,000 facilities, he said. They fly about 38,000 hr. and conduct 2.1 million operations a year, carrying 2.6 million passengers, he added, with the majority of that below 5,000 ft.
"They do that without the ability to communicate with ATC, which cannot see them, and without real-time weather," Zuccaro said. "ADS-B is going to dramatically change the way business is done in the Gulf."
Sikorsky Begins Assembly of X-2 Demonstrator
Sikorsky Aircraft's new president, Jeff Pino, has reaffirmed that company's commitment to fly its X-2 technology demonstrator by year's end.
Pino's predecessor, Steve Finger, startled attendees at last year's American Helicopter Society International annual forum by unveiling the initiative, which is aimed at proving that an aircraft can fly in excess of 250 kt. and maintain the unique vertical-lift characteristics of a helicopter. X-2 will use a coaxial rotor, auxiliary propulsion, active vibration and other things to pursue that goal.
"We are on track to fly the demonstrator in '06," Pino told this year's Forum 62. "It may be in December, but it will be in '06."
While skeptics argue, among other things, that Sikorsky can never get the configuration's lift-over-drag properties high enough to be viable, "we've conquered that--at least analytically. L/D is significantly better than back with the XH-59A" Advancing Blade Concept demonstrator in the 1970s.
The first round of X-2 testing is complete, Pino said, and assembly of the prototype has begun at Sikorsky's Schweizer Aircraft subsidiary. Ground runs are slated for next month.
IHST Team to Take Safety Initiative On the Road to India and Points East
Leaders of the International Helicopter Safety Team, fresh from the presentation of their plans and schedule for cutting the helicopter accident rate 80 percent in 10 years, are carrying their message beyond North America.
The co-chairs of the joint industry-government team, HAI President Matt Zuccaro and Dave Downey of the U.S. FAA's Rotorcraft Directorate, plan to travel to New Delhi this month to participate in a conference there on improving civil and non-combat military helicopter safety. They plan to follow that trip with ones to Asia, Australia, and South America, all aimed at enlisting government and industry support for their safety initiatives.
At the American Helicopter Society International's annual Forum 62 last month in Phoenix, members of the international team laid out an ambitious schedule that calls for completing analysis of helicopter accident reports and safety studies by late this year and recommending measures to address the most common causes of such accidents by next January.
Team members are seeking input and participation from helicopter operators. For information on the effort, visit www.ihst.org.
U.S. Congressional Office Launches EMS Safety Review
The U.S. Government Accountability Office, a branch of Congress, is the latest federal agency to undertake a review of the safety of helicopter emergency medical services.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board recently undertook separate reviews of helicotper EMS safety.
The GAO launched its review at the request of Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), a member of the House of Representative's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which oversees the FAA. Officials familiar with the probe said the request had been pending for nearly a year. GAO investigators are said to be aiming to provide Costello with a report by year's end. After it is sent to him, it may be made public.
The GAO generally focuses on the role of the federal government and the performance of its agencies in matters of concern to a member of Congress. For this study, GAO investigators reportedly are focusing on nature and scope of the fixed- and rotary-wing EMS sector, unique safety and operational issues associated with it, and federal and state oversight of its safety and operations. GAO investigators have visited FAA Flight Standards inspectors and large helicopter EMS operators. They also observed the early May meeting of the Air Medical Safety Advisory Council and attended a subsequent safety forum in Dallas hosted by FlightSafety International.
Auditors Say Delays, Power Shortfall Plague Australian Tiger Program
Australia's initiative to upgrade its military helicopter fleet by acquiring 22 Eurocopter Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters is under fire from government auditors who say it is bogged down with technical problems and delays.
A review by the Australian National Audit Office found early production aircraft failed to meet requirements for weight, engine power, crash resistance, ability to fly over water and weapons system performance.
The auditors said the Turbomeca MTR390 engines for the aircraft "are contractually deficient because they are unable to deliver the required power output at the maximum operational requirement." An option to replace the existing engines could add Australian $110 million to the $1.96-million project.
The most important problem, according to the auditors, appears to be with the Tiger's avionics. The auditors said the aircraft cannot yet operate at night or in bad weather in Australian civil aviation airspace.
The defense ministry has accepted some Tigers but imposed operational limitations on them, including a requirement that they may only be flown by instructors and experienced aircrew.
The ministry wanted the Tigers in service by December 2004. The auditors said there is no clear indication when full operational capability will be attained. The ministry's contract is with Eurocopter subsidiary Australian Aerospace. Under it, the first four Tigers were to be built in France and the rest in Brisbane.
Australian Navy Grounds Sea Sprites; Defense Minister Orders Program Review
The Royal Australian Navy last month grounded its 10 Super Sea Sprites and Australia's defense minister has ordered a review of whether the project should be scrapped.
According to Kaman Aerospace, which makes the aircraft, the navy had encountered "an anomalous flight condition" on a training aircraft that was attributed to the airspeed sensor. The navy suspended flight operations pending resolution. Kaman said it believes that it has determined the anomaly's cause and has a plan to resolve the issue.
The Super Sea Sprite project dates back 10 years, with nearly Australian $1 billion spent on 11 helicopters, of which 10 have been delivered. The Super Sea Sprite was chosen for the ANZAC frigates and the cancelled ocean-going patrol boats, for which the Sea Hawk would have been too big. The Sea Hawk has been working with the Anzacs successfully.
New Zealand is operating its version of the Super Sea Sprite and is said to be well pleased with the helicopter. Australia's aircraft, however, have a special integrated electronics, with unique capabilities. Kaman changed subcontractors and the navy wanted as much Australian- supplied equipment as possible. Given the change of the original systems contractor, Kaman had problems from the start.
Kaman on May 16 said it "has been working closely" with the navy and "believes the program is close to completion." Last month, it said, it finished the last of about 400 pre-qualification software tests of the "technology-advancing Integrated Tactical Avionics System" (ITAS) software, and is preparing for the final qualification testing to be witnessed by Australia. "This process is expected to be followed by acceptance of the fully capable helicopters," Kaman said.
Boeing Weighs Future of Canard Rotor/Wing
Boeing is evaluating whether potential customers remain interested in development of its canard rotor/wing technology and whether it can recover from technical problems following the April 12 crash of the second of two demonstrator aircraft.
Answers to those two questions will determine whether the company pursues the concept further.
The crash at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. destroyed the X-50A Dragonfly unmanned aerial vehicle. An investigation is continuing. Any decision on continuation of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-funded project will await its conclusion, said Clark Mitchell, Boeing's canard rotor-wing project manager. The investigation is expected to wrap up this month.
The initiative's objective is to test two foundational technologies--reaction-drive and a stopped rotor. The X-50A uses a conventional turbofan engine that diverts engine exhaust through exit nozzles in the rotor tips during rotary-wing flight. Once in full forward flight, the engine exhaust is diverted through a nozzle at the rear of the aircraft. The rotors then stop spinning and lock in place to become wings, providing lift.
The second aircraft crashed on the sixth of 11 planned flights in the test program. It had not yet performed the conversion from rotary-wing to fixed-wing flight.
Unconventional Weapons Used Against U.S. Helicopters--In The U.S.
Two men have been arrested for unusual attacks against helicopters in the United States.
In April, an illegal immigrant was sentenced to 38 months in a federal prison for a rock-throwing incident in July 2004. Antonio Eretza-Florez was a passenger in a stolen vehicle near Huachuca City, Ariz. when a police officer tried to stop the car. During the resulting pursuit, the stolen vehicle was forced off the road and became stuck. Eretza-Florez tried to escape on foot into the desert. When a U.S. Border Patrol helicopter spotted him and directed law officers toward his location, he picked up several rocks and started throwing them at the helicopter, requiring the pilot to take evasive action. Eretza-Florez will also be on 36 months supervised parole following his release from prison.
Also in April a man was arrested in Newport Beach, Calif. for allegedly pointing a powerful laser into the cockpit of a police helicopter, temporarily blinding the pilot. Peter Kontos could face up to three years in prison if found guilty of hitting the cockpit with the laser, reported to be 30 times more powerful than a standard laser pointer.
The helicopter was responding to a reported burglary near Kontos' home. The pilot was able to trace the source of the beam to Kontos' home. When police searched it, they reported finding cocaine and more than $100,000 in cash. Kontos is considered a suspect in the embezzlement of more than $1 million in funds from the condominium association that he once served as the association president.
MD Turns Five MD600Ns Over to Turkish National Police for Inspection, Acceptance
MD Helicopters on May 9 presented five MD600N helicopters to the Turkish National Police for inspection and acceptance. Police representatives, including their team leader and four pilots, were on hand at MD's Mesa, Ariz. facility site to begin that inspection and acceptance process.
The aircraft, the remaining five of 10 ordered by the Turkish National Police, are to be stationed in varied locations throughout Turkey. The police service headquarters its existing MD600Ns at Ankara and Istanbul. The aircraft are used for general law enforcement missions, including surveillance and patrol missions, in various regions of the country. Four of the new helicopters incorporate infrared systems to further assist law enforcement missions.
According to MD, one authority from the Turkish Police Aviation Dept. said the police have been successfully operating the five helicopters previously delivered. The company cited this official as saying the police are quite happy with the aircraft's performance.
"I take great pride in presenting the remaining MD600Ns to the Turkish National Police, taking one more step forward in demonstrating our deep commitment to our global customer base," said Lynn Tilton, MD chairman and acting CEO.
U.K. Defense Ministry Signs Off on Joint SAR As Private Finance Initiative
The U.K. Ministry of Defence and Transport Dept. have approved pursuit of a more integrated national search-and-rescue capability as a private-finance initiative competition.
The defense ministry and the Transport Dept.'s Maritime and Coastguard Agency currently jointly provide SAR services in the United Kingdom and the international seas and airspace for which it is responsible.
Together, they provide 24-hr. military and civil helicopter SAR service from 12 bases around the country with Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Sea Kings and civilian helicopters under contract to the coast guard agency.
Under the next stage of the Joint Search and Rescue-Helicopter (SAR-H) project, the defense and civilian agencies plan to replace this capability with a single contract under which military aircrews would train and work alongside civilian counterparts trained to the same standards. The defense ministry and coast guard agency would continue to manage SAR services, which would be financed privately under the scheme approved May 9.
Decisions have yet to made regarding what type or number of helicopters would be used, where they would be based and how long the SAR contract would run.
However, U.K. officials said, the SAR-H project has developed a detailed requirement specification to ensure that all aspects of the service requirement are met. Key performance indicators will be set and performance measured against these to ensure a high level of service is maintained.
Kaman's BURRO+ Logs 12-Hr.-Plus Flight in UAV Demo
Kaman Aerospace's BURRO+ vertical takeoff unmanned aerial vehicle demonstrated its mission endurance April 28 with what the company said was a 12-hr., 17-min. flight and simulated mission without refueling.
Based on Kaman's K-MAX helicopter, the BURRO+ departed Kaman's airfield in Bloomfield, Conn. at 0613 local with safety pilot John McGonagle on board and flew a pre-programmed, three-leg course repeatedly, autonomously landing at 1830. The flight path took the aircraft over western Massachusetts, Connecticut and eastern New York. The flight was intended to demonstrate BURRO+'s high-endurance capability.
"The Army is very interested in high-endurance capabilities in its new unmanned systems," said Bob Johnson, U.S. Army program manager. "Persistence over the battlefield is a key performance indicator and I am very impressed with this double-digit endurance proven by BURRO+."
The high-endurance demonstration aircraft utilized a modified version of the conformal firefighting belly tank that Kawak Aviation Technologies developed and certified for K-MAX with the backing of helicopter operator Superior Helicopter ("Broadening the Base," August 2005, page 24. Kawak modified the tank for Kaman to carry fuel instead of water.
D.C. Police Get Second AS350
Washington's Metropolitan Police Dept. has taken delivery of its second Eurocopter AS350B3.
N911AS joins its older hangar mate, N911DC, a 2001 AS350B3, at the South Capitol Street Heliport 2 mi. south of Capitol Hill.
The new aircraft is equipped with a Bendix aviation radio suite, Garmin 530 GPS with a terrain avoidance system, and Technisonic TBFM-6158 multi-band police radio. Mission equipment includes a forward-looking infrared imager with color video camera, search light, and AeroComputers mapping system.
The department's Helicopter Branch is one of the oldest police aviation operations in the United States. Formed in the 1960s, it began with a small fleet of single-engine Bell 47s. In the mid-1980s, it switched to the Hughes/McDonnell Douglas 500 series of single-engine, four-place turbines for patrol and a pair of surplus Bell UH-1s for tactical operations.
In 1996, deep budget cuts throughout the city government closed the Helicopter Branch, and its entire fleet of aircraft was sold off. In December 2001, the police chief revived the aviation program with a leased 1986 AS350BA retired from the California Highway Patrol. That aircraft was soon replaced by a new AS350B3--Story and Photo by Ernie Stephens
Eastern India Gets First Time Air Ambulance
The BM Birla Heart Research Center has launched an air ambulance service for eastern India, the first time this type of service has been available in the area.
The air ambulance service is being provided to the 4.6 million people of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) in West Bengal, with the facility available for patients of BM Birla and the Calcutta Medical Research Institute. A single Bell 206, based in the Dum Dum Airport, is being provided by Rescue Services.
But availability of the service to the city will depend on demand. "We are ready to bring the facility closer to the heart of the city if the demand for it is good," an official said. "This is the first time that such a facility is being launched in eastern India. If the authorities see that there is a good demand for such emergency medical services then they will also increase the number of choppers."
U.S. Army Aviation Takes Over Unmanned Aerial Systems
The U.S. Army has shifted responsibility for training operators and maintainers of intelligence-gathering unmanned aerial systems from the U.S. Army Intelligence Center to the Aviation Warfighting Center.
On April 19, the service activated the provisional Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training Battalion at Fort Huachuca and transferred that training authority to it from the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion.
The shift to the Aviation Warfighting Center, home of Army aviation, reflects the technical and doctrinal evolution of UAVs in the Army. While UAVs play an increasing role in the traditional areas of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, the operational impact of UAVs and their importance to air power needs and future combat is just beginning to be appreciated.
"The potential for other mission for our unmanned systems is limitless--homeland defense, disaster relief, combined arms operations, stability and support operations, and contingency operations to name a few," said Brig. Gen. E. J. Sinclair, commanding general of the Aviation Warfighting Center.
"Our soldiers will continue to adapt our unmanned systems to accomplish their assigned missions safer and more efficiently than ever before," he said.
* H-1--Two Bell Helicopter UH-1Ys and two AH-1Zs finally flew flown to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif. May 9 to begin their delayed operational evaluation. The U.S. Marine Corps program's OpEval is slated to last six months.
*Firefighting--Taiwan has expanded its tender for nine firefighting helicopters to include aircraft equipped with water buckets. This will expand the field of competitors to include the AW139, Bell 412EP and Mi-17.
*Transport--Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration has given Eurocopter the green light to begin production development for the first of 245 new military transport helicopters with a total value of between $6 billion and $8 billion. Actual production is expected to begin in 2011.
*Heavy Lift--CH-53K program managers are expected to announce the engine and cockpit providers within the next couple of months. Engine bids were due to Sikorsky, which is managing the program for the U.S. Marine Corps, May 22.
*Shipborne--U.S. Navy's newest amphibious ship, USS San Antonio, is expected to complete aircraft dynamic interface testing later this month. The "first of class tests" evaluate the safety of operations of Naval/Marine helicopters on-board the ship. The USS San Antonio can support up to CH-53E and MV-22 size aircraft.
*Utility--Thailand has asked the U.S. government for permission to purchase six MH-60s, including 14 GE T700 engines, valued as high as $246 million based on future options. Orders for the first two are expected within the next three months.
*Utility--First of Four Super Lynx 300s for the South African Air Force has flown and will start flight testing prior to being shown at Farnborough Air Show.
*Attack--Boeing will roll out the 501st AH-64D Longbow Apache in early August, the last to be built under the first two multi-year contracts. Boeing also is working to extend its Block 2 AH-64D line to replaced AH-64Ds lost in combat.
EH101: Large Field of Fire, Small Footprint
A relatively small footprint, anti-brown out capability and large field of fire are major attributes of AgustaWestland's EH101-based contender for the U.S. Air Force's Combat Search and Rescue-X aircraft competition, according to the company. The bid is being made by Team US101, the collaboration of Lockheed Martin, AgustaWestland, and Bell Helicopter.
Team US101 is offering an upgraded version of the EH101 powered by three 3,000-shp General Electric CT7-8C engines, the same engine going onto the U.S. Marine Corps' VH-71 presidential helicopter. Stephen Moss, CEO of AgustaWestland North America, said a major advantage of the 101 is a footprint smaller than Boeing's HH-47, which he said is the only other battle-proven competitor. The -47 has a length of nearly 99 ft. with rotors turning compared to the roughly 75 ft. of the 101, Moss said. Boeing officials counter that their aircraft's tandem- rotor configuration allows most of that length to be usable cabin volume for CSAR crews rather than the less usable space of a tail boom on tail-rotor-equipped aircraft.
Other design advantages of the 101, according to Moss, include the rotor tips on the British Experiment Rotor Program (BERP) main-rotor blades. He said the rotor blades are designed to push dust or snow away from the helicopter rather than pull it into the fuselage area. Another is the small, aft mounted sponsons that allow a door gunner to fire directly down, and to some extent below the aircraft. While having three engines increases engine cost and maintenance, it also increases the chance of completing the mission, Moss said. "With a twin-engine helicopter, if you lose one engine, the remaining engine will allow you to land safely or possibly return to your home base. With triple redundancy, if you lose one you can still continue on and complete the mission."
USAF Developing New SkyTote UAV
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory will begin the next cycle of testing on the SkyTote UAV this month at Camp Roberts, Calif. SkyTote is a hybrid fixed/rotary-wing aircraft that takes off and lands vertically using counter rotating propellers, then transition to horizontal flight like a conventional aircraft in flight. The design concept is essentially like the Convair XFY-1 Pogo developed in the 1950s.
It is being developed by AeroVironment of Monrovia, Calif. for the lab. Research on the SkyTote began in 1998. Since then, it has grown from a 2-ft. to an 8-ft. vehicle to be more realistic, although the aircraft is a concept demonstrator and not a working system, according to Tom Cord, the lab's SkyTote program manager.
"We are not trying to reach a certain performance and capability," he said. "We are trying to show that a hovering UAV with a fast, forward speed is a likelihood. It's something we can do in a simple way," he said.
Sikorsky Puts Out Call for Engineers
A projected doubling in its business from 2003 to 2008 has sent Sikorsky Aircraft on a hiring frenzy to fill a need for more than 300 engineers covering both civil and military aircraft.
The company will hold job fairs over the next few months covering states in which Sikorsky has facilities where the new employees would be working, including Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Alabama and New York. Areas of particular interest are for engineers trained in systems, flight controls design and analysis, structural analysts, air vehicle design with CATIA experience, electrical and avionics.
Mark Miller, Sikorsky's vice president, research & engineering, said the company is "ramping up several new military and commercial programs at a rapid pace, while continuing to invest in innovative research and development projects that set the stage for continued growth in the future." He emphasized that while the company is looking for engineers with aerospace backgrounds, "our experience has demonstrated that many of our finest engineers have often come from other industries."
Engineering candidates interested in a career at Sikorsky or its subsidiaries can view job postings on the internet at www.sikorskycareers.com.
Texas Starflight Gets Second EC145
The Austin/Travis County, Texas EMS/Rescue program has accepted delivery of their second new single-pilot IFR Eurocopter EC145, which was converted to EMS operations by Metro Aviation under contract to American Eurocopter. Both aircraft are identically equipped for emergency medical and rescue operations, including cargo hooks and external hoists.
Each has Metro's STC'd SPIFR system, which is night-vision goggle-compatible, and the Metro 145M-100 EMS interior capable of transporting three attendants and two patients, a single patient with four attendants, or conversion to special operations in 10 min.
Stanley Hiller Dies At 81
Stanley Hiller, Jr., one of the last great pioneers of the helicopter industry, died April 20 of complications from Alzheimer's disease.
The son of an early pioneer in airplane and airplane engines, Hiller was born Nov. 15, 1924, and started his business career at the age of 12 making mini-racing cars. By 15, with help from his father (left in the large photo), he was head of a company grossing over $1 million a year making aircraft parts for the military in preparation for the rapidly approach war.
In the early 1940s, he formed Hiller Aircraft Co. and developed an early model of the helicopter for the U.S. Navy. He founded United Helicopters, Inc. in 1945. There he developed his first helicopter, the Commuter. The successor to the Commuter was the 360, which he got certified by the Civil Aeronautics Agency in 1948 and which was only the third helicopter to receive certification. This led to his highly successful line of helicopters. Hiller's helicopters gained famed initially in the jungle wars of Malaysia and French Indochina in the late 1940s, and then the Korea War. Hiller's most famous helicopters, the UH-12E, are still in use today.
Helinet AviationSigns Pacts Aimed At Tapping Gov't Markets
Helinet Aviation Services has signed teaming agreements with Cambridge Systems Inc. and EC America designed to help Helinet penetrate the federal government market for its products and services, especially the company's family of gyro-stabilized, high-definition multi-sensor airborne imaging systems. The Van Nuys, Calif.-based company will now be featured on the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) schedule, a critical step in selling to federal agencies.
The teaming agreement will allow Helinet to market its services and products, particularly its Cineflex gyro-stabilized digital camera system, to federal agencies such as the Homeland Security Dept.
Its agreement with EC America will help guide and accelerate Helinet through the government scheduling process, while the Cambridge Systems agreement will allow the Cineflex system to be integrated into "a multi-tiered security solution, which encompasses public transportation, port security and emergency response applications," said Chris Snyder, Helinet vice president of government business development.
Cambridge will also provide additional opportunities to Helinet through small business set aside contract vehicles, he said.
Andrew Schreiner, Cambridge System's director of business development, said his company "chose to partner with Helinet because their state-of-the-art Cineflex gyro-stabilized digital camera system technology is ideally suited for long range reconnaissance, and identification recognition from up to 5 mi. away."
EADS North America has received a $709,000 contract to develop program software for the shaft engine test instrumentation program that allows the shaft engine test system to support the VH-71 presidential helicopter.
CHC Helicopter Corp. has been awarded a three-year contract renewal, plus options, by Tullow Oil Plc., for the provision of a sole-use AW139 helicopter commencing in July, 2006, and a seven-year contract renewal, plus options, by Perenco UK Ltd., also for the provision of a sole-use AW139 commencing later this year. Both aircraft will be based at CHC's base at North Denes, England, replacing older model aircraft.
Lockheed Martin Corp. was awarded a $16.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for radar frequency interferometer systems for the Apache AH-64D Helicopters. It also received an estimated $51 million advance acquisition contract for long lead efforts and materials associated with the production and delivery of the fiscal year 2007 full rate production of 25 Lot V MH-60R helicopter mission avionics systems.
Boeing was awarded a $67.6 million contract for remanufacturing of AH-64As and FMS AH-64As to AH-64D Apache Longbow Aircraft, as well as a $44.4 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for remanufacture of six AH-64D aircraft. It was also awarded a $120.3 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for reliability and safety and recapitalization overhaul for fielded AH-64s.
Boeing was also awarded six multiple delivery orders in the total amount of $301.4 million for spare parts for the CH-47 Chinook, as well as a $7.5 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for long lead parts for the CH-47.
Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. was awarded a $16.5 million modification to a firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Kiowa Warrior safety enhancement program.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh presented a top Search and Rescue award to Master Aircrewman (MACR) Nicholas Petch, from Scarborough, on Monday 8th May. Petch won the Billy Deacon Search and Rescue Memorial Trophy has been won by MACR Petch for his `exceptional fearlessness in the face of danger' in March 2005 while attempting to save the lives of a mother and two children who were swept off the sea wall at Scarborough North Bay.
Member Ellen Engleman Conners resigned from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board effective May 31. President Bush appointed her chairman of the board in March 2003 and she served in that capacity for two years. Her term as a board member was to expire on Dec. 31, 2007.
Rolls-Royce has name Adm. Vern Clark, U.S. Navy (Ret.) to the board of Rolls-Royce North America Holdings Inc. Clark was the Navy's chief of naval operations and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Wingspeed Corp. has named David Borkowski vice president of world wide sales, responsible for XLLink Voice and Data Communication System products.
CHC Helicopter Corp. named Rick Davis acting chief financial officer, succeeding Senior Vice President and CFO Jo Mark Zurel, who the company said resigned for personal reasons. Davis had been vice president of financial reporting.
June 22-23--Conklin & de Decker `s Fourth Annual Commercial Operators & Management Tax Course, Dallas on June 22-23, 2006. Contact: David Wyndham, (508) 255-5975; E-mail: email@example.com; Web: www.conklindd.com/Store/pdf/COMSeminar.pdf.
July 8-9--Imperial War Museum Flying Legends Air Show, Duxford War Museum, Duxford, England. Contact: 44-1223-835-000; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web: iwm.org.uk.
July 15-16--Royal International Air Tattoo 2006, Fairford, UK. Contact: www.airtattoo.com.
July 26-30--International HeliDays Plus, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, England. Contact: Elfan Ap Rees, 011-44-(0)1934-822-524; E-mail: email@example.com. Web: www.helidays.freeserve.co.uk.
Aug. 10-12--Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE 2006). Congonhas Airport, S�o Paulo, Brazil. Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web: www.nbaa.org.
Sept. 16-18--National Guard Assn. of the United States 128th General Conference and Exhibition, Albuquerque, N.M. Contact: Web: www.ngaus.org.
Nov. 14-15--Heli-Power, Olympia Conference Centre, London, England. Contact: Claire Lynam, 44-(0) 1628 606950; E-mail: email@example.com.