The Eurocopter X3 hybrid made its record-breaking speed run just 10 days before the opening of the Paris Air Show, so it was not surprising that the EADS company brought both the unique aircraft and its crew to the Le Bourget biennial event. On June 7, the X3 flew at 255 knots in level flight and 263 knots in a dive, besting the previous record set by the Sikorsky X2 in September 2010 (250 knots level and 260 knots in descent).
Rotorcraft » Rotorcraft Aircraft
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft.
This year’s Helitech, to be held from September 24 to 26 at its new London venue, will attract more international visitors, according to organizers of Europe’s main helicopter trade show.
“OEMs wanted an international platform for product launches,” Helitech International exhibition director John Hyde told AIN, and organizers believe the Excel London exhibition and convention center in the Newham district, near London City Airport, fills the bill.
The EASA approved the interim solution–a combination of vibration monitoring, inspections and part modification–that Eurocopter devised for the EC225 to address main gearbox (MGB) lubrication issues after the type experienced two controlled ditchings last year. The manufacturer’s fix is intended to reduce the likelihood of an undetected crack, leading to in-flight rupture and ditching, to one per billion flight hours. At issue is the bevel gear vertical shaft, a part that is critical to main gearbox lubrication.
The first of some 80 EC225 helicopters subject to a series of airworthiness directives to address main gearbox lubrication issues will start resuming flight operations by the end of July, Eurocopter confirmed.
Eurocopter demonstrated new automated landing procedures relying on Egnos (Europe’s Waas equivalent) satellite guidance. Part of Europe’s Clean Sky research project, the tests were performed on an EC155 medium twin. They showed significant reductions in the helicopter’s perceived sound footprint, the company said. The noise-abatement flightpaths were compatible with IFR operations and can be tailored to local requirements.
Eurocopter has received orders from China’s State Grid General Aviation Company for two AS350B3e AStar/Ecureuils and one EC225. They will be used to support the country’s electric grid development and for other airlift missions. The B3e light singles will be delivered late this year. Handover of the EC225 is scheduled for 2015. Eurocopter has also signed contracts with Japan’s National Police Agency for one EC155B1, one AS365N3+ and two EC135P2es to replace aging aircraft. Deliveries are scheduled over the 2014-2015 period.
The UK’s East Anglian Air Ambulance charity organization and its helicopter operator, Bond Air Services, have been allowed to fly emergency medical service missions at night, using night-vision goggles. The charity believes that it will be able to conduct approximately 30 percent more missions, helping an estimated 300 more patients a year. Special equipment also includes a powerline detection system.
Canadian officials approved certification of Robinson’s turbine single May 31, accepting the U.S. FAA’s equivalent level of safety (ELOS) finding that exempts the helicopter from being equipped with redundant hydraulics. The FAA granted the ELOS in February. Currently 13 N-registered R66s operate in Canada and another 13 are on order for customers there. Almost 400 R66s are operating worldwide.
Faced with tough budget decisions on new weapons programs, the U.S. Army appears to be delaying a decision on the $6- to $8 billion Armed Aerial Scout program while concurrently moving forward with the potential $100 billion joint multi-role (JMR) initiative.
Eurocopter and French aerospace research center Onera are jointly investigating how augmented reality, for the senses of vision and touch, could benefit helicopter pilots in the future. The two organizations are developing an advanced flight simulator, also known as a “neuro-ergonomic” platform, initially aimed at finding ways to avoid obstacles and terrain.