Editor's Note

Heli-Expo 2013

By Jonathan Ray | April 1, 2013
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Eurocopter Optimistic for 2013, Unveils New Versions of EC135

Eurocopter’s EC175 on display at the company’s
booth at Heli-Expo.

Eurocopter expressed confidence in its performance in 2012 and optimism for its future in 2013, according to executives at Heli-Expo.

Lutz Bertling, president and CEO of the Eurocopter Group, said the global civil and parapublic market, it delivered 750 helicopters, which equates to 44 percent of the global market share; for the military market, it delivered 698 helicopters, which translated into a global market share of 18 percent.

The company saw 469 net bookings in 2012, including 249 EC130s and 19 EC175s. The first flight of the no. 1 production EC175 took place in 2012. (Just a week after the show, Bertling resigned his post as CEO of Eurocopter to become president and chief operating office at Berlin-based Bombardier Transportation. Guillaume Faury was selected to succeed him.)

Outgoing Eurcopter President and CEO Lutz Bertling (right) updates the
media on the company’s performance in 2012 and provides guidance on
what is to come in 2013. Marc Paganini, president and CEO of American
Eurocopter (left) looks on.

At the show, Eurocopter launched the updated EC135 T3/P3 aircraft derivatives. New features for these latest variants of Eurocopter’s EC135 light, multipurpose twin-engine rotorcraft include improved hot/high performance, increased maximum takeoff weight, improved flight envelope, extended range and enhanced interior versatility. New avionics upgrades include Bluetooth headset for passengers, iPad holder, light aircraft recording system and the Garmin’s GTN 750 GPS/NAV/COM/multifunction display system. Additionally, the company said the T3/P3 designations signify availability of two upgraded engine options on the helicopters: Turbomeca’s Arrius 2B2 “Plus” for the EC135 T3; and Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PWC 206B3 for the EC135 P3. Bertling referred to the updated versions as an evolution in the product line and said “we will continue with this strategy of evolution when it makes sense.”

Air Methods of the United States, Norsk Luftambulanse of Norway, and Italy’s Aiut Alpin Dolomites signed on as launch customers. Air Methods is to acquire six EC135 P3s for air medical transport missions; Norsk Luftambulanse signed for six EC135 Ps in the medical evacuation configuration; while Aiut Alpin Dolomites booked one EC135 T3 for its rescue operations. Deliveries will begin in 2014. -Emily Feliz

Honeywell Bullish in Helicopter Outlook

Honeywell global deliveries of new civilian-use
helicopters will increase to between 4,900 to
5,600 over the five-year period between 2013-2017.
Photo courtesy Bell Helicopter.

Honeywell said it expects global deliveries of new civilian-use helicopters will increase to between 4,900 to 5,600 over the five-year period between 2013-2017.

The 15th Turbine-Powered Civil Helicopter Purchase Outlook report, released on the eve of Heli-Expo in Las Vegas in March, shows improved purchase plans for new helicopters in every region of the world.

“The buyer confidence reflected in this year’s survey is a much needed shot in the arm for the industry,” said Brian Sill, vice president, Honeywell Aftermarket Helicopter Sales. “Supporting the growth numbers is the fact that helicopter usage for corporate, oil and gas, utility, and training missions is improving, which shows that helicopters are value-add aircraft in today’s business environment.”

North American buying plans increased for the first time in half a decade, and Latin America posted the highest regional level of five-year fleet replacement and expansion at 34 percent.

Based on survey results, delivery rates of new helicopters over the next three years are expected to reach 1,000 new units each year. Purchase plans for new helicopters for this three-year time frame are 35 percent higher than last year’s survey. The latter part of the five-year outlook is also expected to fill in and achieve similar delivery rates if economic recovery trends are sustained, according to Honeywell.

The drivers for new purchase expectations were aircraft age and condition, contractual requirements, change in operational requirements, expiring warranties, and regulations requiring twin engines.

According to the forecast, the five-year share of demand from the United States and Canada is 27 percent, and combined the Western Hemisphere represents 47 percent of total global demand. Europe’s share of five-year demand closely matches that of North America with 28 percent. Demand in Asia/Oceania accounts for 19 percent over the next five years, and the Africa/Middle East share should tally a little over 6 percent.

Higher purchase plans were found across the board in all regions this year. Purchase plans in major U.S. and European centers of demand rose this year by 3 and 7 points, respectively. All other regions also improved moderately compared with 2012, and their purchase plans remain above the world average rate, Honeywell said.

Global five-year demand for new turbine-powered helicopters is split almost 50-50 between the Americas and the rest of the world. Latin America and Asia continue to have the highest fleet replacement and expansion expectations among the regions. In terms of projected regional demand for new helicopters, Latin America and Asia remain in close competition to claim the world’s third largest regional market, following North America and Europe.

Relatively lower levels of planned purchases were concentrated in 2016, leading to the expectation that these plans could strengthen over the next few years should political and general economic conditions improve as projected. -Emily Feliz

L-3 Avionics on Sikorsky

Sikorsky Aircraft selected L-3 Aviation Products’ GH-3001 Electronic Standby Instrument System (ESIS), Stormscope WX-500 Lightning Detection System and PS-855 Emergency Power Supply (EPS) for its H-60 and S-70i platforms.

This follow-on award is a five-year contract that spans from 2013 through 2017.

“This award represents the single largest order we’ve received from an OEM for our GH, Stormscope and Power Supply products,” said Ralph DeMarco, vice president of sales and marketing for L-3 Aviation Products. “With the inclusion of these very capable avionics, Sikorsky’s line of military rotorcraft continues to set the benchmark for the most modern and capable helicopters available.”

Designed with military platforms in mind, the night vision goggle-compatible GH-3001 ESIS provides attitude, altitude, airspeed and heading cues in a compact unit, according to the company.

The WX-500 Stormscope detects and maps thunderstorms by analyzing the radiated signals of electrical discharges from storm cells. By detecting the electrical activity, Stormscope provides an accurate view of areas that are the most dangerous portions of a thunderstorm.

The PS-855 EPS supplies power to critical avionics in the event of an emergency and produces additional power output at 24 VDC to run other emergency equipment without interruption.

ViaSat Demos Satcom

ViaSat demonstrated a high-performance Ka-band satellite communication system that delivers beyond line-of-sight broadband for rotary wing aircraft, the company said.

This system provided sustained data rates of 4 Mbps from the helicopter to a ground station and 8 Mbps to the helicopter despite very high shock and vibration and the inherent repetitive signal blockage from rotating blades. While previous “through the blade” demonstrations have proved the underlying patented and patent-pending technology, this flight test at Patuxent River, Md., used a Sikorsky H-3 and ViaSat’s VR-12 Ka-band antenna.

Flight conditions encompassed rigorous maneuvers, including severe banking and operation through several rotor orientations while running data-intensive applications. During multiple tests, operators were able to simultaneously run five VoIP calls, three VTCs from air to ground, and streaming videos from the Internet to the aircraft. All applications ran without packet loss or video dropout, ViaSat said.

“We are enabling new operational concepts for military and civil helicopter missions,” said Paul Baca, vice president and general manager of ViaSat Global Mobile Broadband. “Rotary wing customers can experience broadband that overcomes the challenges of vibration, shock, and signal interference associated with satellite communication for helicopters.”

Sky Connect Certification

Honeywell announced the certification of its Sky Connect Tracker III voice, text and fleet tracking system.

Additionally, Honeywell said it has integrated its Zing Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) into the Sky Connect Tracker III to allow real-time vehicle health status and maintenance alerts. This integration enables ground maintenance and operations personnel to instantaneously see when a HUMS maintenance alert is flagged, so maintenance personnel can schedule maintenance when the aircraft lands, according to the company.

“Sky Connect Tracker III provides helicopter operators with the crucial information to keep their fleet safe and efficient. And, when integrated with Honeywell’s HUMS product, data can be transmitted in real time to the ground and operations crew while flight operations are underway, increasing aircraft safety and availability while reducing maintenance man-hours and parts costs,” said Brian Sill, vice president, Defense and Space Americas Aftermarket at Honeywell.

Avionics for MD Explorer

A mock-up on the Universal Avionics systems to be installed on
MD Helicopters’ MD Explorer platform.


MD Helicopters, based in Mesa, Ariz., introduced avionics and electrical system enhancements to its MD Explorer helicopter platform, designed to increase flight distance and payload.

The new flight deck, supplied by Universal Avionics Systems, of Tucson, Ariz., will include a custom single-pilot IFR-capable integrated flight deck available for all production and retrofit MD Explorer helicopters. The new cockpit will feature a Primary Flight Display (PFD) providing all Primary Flight parameters, Primary Engine/Rotor data and safety critical annunciators. Full capabilities will include synthetic vision, electronic charts and display graphics that are video and mission display capable.

The system will be available in several cockpit configurations supporting both single and dual pilot operations. Night vision goggle-compatible cockpit displays and controllers are planned immediately after certification of the basic display system project, MD Helicopters said.

Additionally, Archangel Systems, of Auburn, Ala., will integrate its AHR150A Air Data Attitude Heading Reference System with the MD902 avionics upgrade.

Helicopter Avionics Tests

Two Universal Avionics Systems products completed their required testing for helicopter installations.

The Radio Control Unit (RCU) has successfully been installed in 28 fixed wing aircraft platforms. Now, the unit is approved for helicopter-specific vibration profiles, signifying a new installation platform for the product, according to the company.

Additionally, the company completed helicopter vibration testing and approval for its airborne datalink system, UniLink UL-800/801 Communications Management Unit.

DVCS6100 on AS350s

Becker Avionics has reached an agreement to partner with Helibras, Eurocopter’s subsidiary in Brazil, to provide its DVCS6100 digital audio system for the Brazilian Army Aviation fleet of AS550 A2 Fennec and AS350 L1 Squirrel helicopters. Under the partnership, Helibras will equip the helicopters with DVCS6100 at its plant in Itajuba.

The contract is part of a modernization program involving 36 AS550s and AS350s in operation with the Brazilian Army Aviation Command. Also included in the installation is a glass cockpit system with three displays, an automatic flight control system, new COM/NAV equipment, crew seating and weapons capabilities.

The Fennec modernization program began in 2012 and is projected to run through 2018.

Metro Aviation Options

Metro Aviation, of Shreveport, La., introduced a helicopter terrain awareness and warning system (HTAWS) option in its supplemental type certificate (STC) for the Eurocopter EC135 series. The completions provider also announced plans to add Garmin’s GTN series of nav/com/GPS equipment for both the EC135 and EC145 single-pilot IFR versions later in 2013.

The new systems will offer a number of features including touchscreen controls and multifunction displays that include automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast functions. The GTN series will also enable Gamma 3 wide area augmentation system approaches. Metro Aviation said it also intends to integrate Geneva Aviation’s digital audio communication system into the Garmin GTN equipment.

New Bell 412EPI

Bell Helicopter's Bell 412EPI.

Bell Helicopter introduced upgrades to its Bell 412 platform. The Bell 412EPI will include an integrated glass cockpit system and 15 percent more horsepower with the Pratt & Whitney PT6T-9 Twin Pac engines.

“We’ve added value through increased performance and situational awareness to this already reliable aircraft,” said Danny Maldonado, Bell Helicopter executive vice president, sales and marketing.

“The benefits of these flight deck upgrades have been proven onboard the Bell 429 and now we can offer Bell 412 customers coupled [wide area augmentation system] WAAS approach capability, a Power Situation Indicator, on-screen performance calculations and a touch screen GPS interface provided by the Garmin GTN-750. The Bell 412EPI is a workhorse for everything from law enforcement to oil and gas transport, ideal for any mission requiring power and performance.”

The Bell BasiX Pro avionics system features four 10.4-inch high-resolution LCD primary/multi-function displays. The avionics suite also includes digital maps, electronic charts and approach plates, ADS-B transponder and optional HTAWS and XM satellite link.

Bell Helicopter topped off a busy show with sales of 50 aircraft, including an order for 30 helicopters by Air Medical Group Holdings and additional 20 helicopters came from international customers.

For more news from Heli-Expo, visit Avionics sister publication Rotor & Wing at www.rotorandwing.com.

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