The fatal crash of a CHC Scotia-operated Eurocopter AS332L2 Super Puma on August 23 off the Shetland Islands in the UK has created an outcry among passengers and is puzzling experts. Investigators have found no evidence of technical failure so far, nor have they hinted at human factors. Meanwhile, a pilot based in the North Sea noted that the helicopter seriously deviated from the expected course, two nautical miles from its destination, Sumburgh Airport.
Rotorcraft » Rotorcraft Aircraft
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft.
In a bid to establish an equal footing with Western helicopter manufacturers, Russian Helicopters recently made multiple announcements about sales, programs and joint ventures.
An order for as many as 35 AgustaWestland AW139 medium helicopters, which might be produced by the Helivert joint factory with Russian Helicopters, hit a snag in late August. Negotiations between the Russian Defense Ministry and AgustaWestland spilled into the press, with deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov telling the country’s news agency Itar-Tass, “It’s a very expensive machine. If they cut the price, then we can return to the issue,” giving the distinct impression that a decision had already been made to pass on the $671 million order.
Eurocopter has received two more firm orders for VIP versions of the EC175 medium twin helicopter, bringing the total backlog to 48. Deliveries to both unidentified customers are scheduled for 2016. The interior design, which accommodates six to eight passengers, was done by Peder Eidsgaard of Pegasus Design. Cabin completion will be performed at Eurocopter’s factory in Marignane, France. Once planned for 2011, certification of the EC175 is now expected early next year.
Eurocopter announced yesterday that it will upgrade the American Eurocopter plant in Columbus, Miss., to accommodate final assembly of the AS350, which it said is the top-selling civil helicopter in the U.S. market. AS350 production is expected to start at the plant in the fourth quarter of next year and will ramp up to 60 of the light single-engine helicopters annually by 2016.
The first autonomous takeoff and landing of the Sikorsky Autonomous Research Aircraft (Sara)–an S-76 fitted with fly-by-wire controls, sensors and software for unmanned operations–is expected to take place within days, according to program manager Igor Cherepinsky. So far, he told AIN, Sara’s autonomous flights were following a trajectory to and from a hover.
Bell Helicopter signed an agreement with Avincis Group for the sale of up to 20 helicopters today at Helitech International 2013 in London. The deal includes a mix of 429s, 412s and 412EPIs, largely for use in search-and-rescue operations. Avincis Group provides aerial services for mission-critical operations, such as medical emergency, civil protection, search-and-rescue, coastal and urban surveillance, firefighting and energy support services.
The new Sikorsky S-76D medium twin recently performed high-altitude takeoff and landing tests at Colorado’s Lake County Airport, the helicopter manufacturer announced last week. The trials, which took place at almost 10,000 feet msl, were part of a so-called envelope-expansion program.
Eurocopter has issued another emergency Service Bulletin and the EASA has published another emergency Airworthiness Directive for the EC225 and AS332L2 Super Pumas, this time centering on a life-raft housing. During an EC225 delivery flight, a sponson life-raft ejectable cowling was lost. It was caused by the incorrect positioning of a locking system during cowling installation. This condition, if not detected and corrected, could lead to the in-flight hazardous inflation of the life raft, according to the EASA.
Bell Helicopter delivered the first Bell 407GX to be operated in Russia to Helidrive in St. Petersburg, the rotorcraft manufacturer announced yesterday. The 407GX, which was officially handed over to Helidrive–Bell’s independent representative in northwest Russia–last week, will be used for both private and charter flights. To date, Bell has delivered more than 1,100 Bell 407s, including nearly 100 Bell 407GXs.