The new Eurocopter AS 355 NP Ecureuil on display here at Le Bourget will shortly be delivered to the first customer, Scandinavian Helicopter Group. The Swedish operator uses its fleet of rotorcraft mainly for passenger transport and aerial work.
Rotorcraft » Rotorcraft Aircraft
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft.
Sikorsky is readying its X2 compound helicopter demonstrator for first flight in late 2007 or early 2008, the U.S. manufacturer announced here at the Paris Air Show. The hybrid design, which looks like a helicopter with two contrarotating coaxial main rotors and one tail propulsor, already had its fly-by-wire system tested in a small Schweizer 333 helicopter. The actual X2 has undergone engine and drive train ground tests.
The BA 609 Tiltrotor is making its flying debut here at Le Bourget. Bell/Agusta Aerospace has brought the second prototype to Paris after it made its first public appearance late last month at an Italian air show. Potential European customers have recently expressed concern about the aircraft’s cost of ownership. Its U.S.-Italian manufacturer might thus hope to convince them about its unique capabilities by showcasing it here.
Bell is planning to add the second 429 prototype to its flight-test effort next month. The first example of the new light-twin helicopter has already convinced design engineers that they can stay with a four-blade tail rotor.
Sikorsky Aircraft yesterday disclosed at the American Helicopter Society International annual technical forum in Grapevine, Texas, plans to build and test a demonstrator for a new class of coaxial helicopters that will have improved vertical flight capabilities and will cruise at 250 knots. The Stratford, Conn.
Houston-based Bristow has exercised options to acquire four more Sikorsky S-92s. As part of the agreement, an earlier order for nine S-76s has been converted to options on the smaller rotorcraft. In addition, Bristow has taken options on 10 more S-92s, bringing the total number of options for this model to 14. –Thierry Dubois
Sikorsky on April 10 announced that the FAA has certified the Sikorsky S-76C++ for operation in falling and blowing snow. FAA testing requires that the aircraft spend 20 minutes on the ground with the rotor turning during blustery snowfall, five minutes in low-altitude hover in a recirculating snow cloud and one hour in level flight.
AgustaWestland has announced orders for six AW139s in Australia. The Queensland Government and CHC, in New South Wales, have each purchased three of the medium twin helicopters. They will operate them in emergency medical and rescue services. The helicopter manufacturer has also won a contract from the Japan National Police Agency to supply five AW109 Power light twins for law-enforcement missions.
The Bell 429 has received its production rotor blades. They replace the prototype blades that supported the first flight on February 27. In addition, engineers have loaded new software for the cockpit displays. Bell said the new software is more representative of the production aircraft.
Everest Rescue Trust, a New Zealand-based charity organization, is planning to operate an unmanned helicopter to rescue stranded climbers on Mount Everest, starting next year. The piston-engine Alpine Wasp will be able to carry two climbers at a time. Flight tests were scheduled to start at the end of last month and continue through November at New Zealand’s 12,300-foot Mount Cook.