Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s largest supplier, has joined forces with Bell Helicopter on the V-280 being proposed for the DoD’s joint multi-role (JMR) technology demonstrator program. The move by Lockheed Martin comes one month after the company announced it is developing a “universal” avionics and weapons package for the Army’s JMR aircraft even before selection of an airframe. As many as 4,000 helicopters could be acquired under the program.
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News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft.
Bell Boeing, the joint venture that produces the V-22 and MV-22 tiltrotor for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, announced that it had successfully demonstrated the capability of that aircraft to serve as an aerial refueling tanker in trials with F/A-18C/D fighters. The test V-22 used a retractable refueling drogue. Bell Boeing has been promoting the V-22 for other roles, including that of the Greyhound COD resupply mission for aircraft carriers.
Yunnan Jingchen Group ordered one Sikorsky S-92 medium twin last month for transporting corporate and government VIPs. The group had just received Chinese government approval to establish a general aviation company, named the Ruili Helicopter Group. The newly ordered S-92 is scheduled for delivery in November 2015. It will become the second operated by Jingchen, after the first was delivered in June this year.
Sikorsky Aircraft and China’s Changhe Aircraft Industries have signed an agreement for Changhe to produce cabins for the S-76D. Changhe, which had previously provided cabins for the predecessor S-76C++, will now serve as a second source for S-76D cabins, as Czech-based Aero Vodochody also supplies cabins. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2016.
The first prototype of the Marenco Swisshelicopter SKYe SH09 would be assembled “over the next weeks,” the company predicted early last month. CEO Martin Stucki said testing of gearboxes and rotors was confirming expectations and simulations. The program’s schedule has the prototype flying four to six weeks after the completion of final assembly.
China-based Henan New Continental Business Aviation has ordered two Eurocopter helicopters in VIP configuration. An AS350B3e Ecureuil/AStar single will be delivered at year-end and an EC145 Mercedes-Benz Style (the first such light twin to be sold in Asia) in the middle of next year. The operator plans to create a helicopter fleet for business passengers. “While VIP helicopter transportation in China is relatively young, the customers’ needs are maturing rapidly,” chairman Zhou Suiji stated.
AgustaWestland is flight-testing a redesigned vertical fin for the AW609 civil tiltrotor, part of an extensive package of aerodynamic improvements aimed at reducing drag by up to 10 percent, cutting weight and increasing performance. Other changes include new engine exhaust nozzles and modifications to the prop-rotor spinner cones.
Chinese media recently reported that Avic officials have ambitions of entering the high-speed rotorcraft market. The airframer’s helicopter subsidiary is developing helicopters that will be able to reach 270 knots, said president Lin Zuoming. Meanwhile, Avicopter general manager Cai Yi stated, “Avicopter civil helicopters can join the ranks of the world’s most advanced,” adding that his company has mastered core technologies in key areas such as rotors, flight controls and avionics.
The first customer delivery of the Sikorsky S-76D medium-twin helicopter is “imminent,” the Stratford, Conn.-based aircraft manufacturer said. According to a Sikorsky executive, the first example will be handed over this month to an offshore operator in the Gulf of Mexico. The first executive S-76D is scheduled for delivery in January to a customer in Europe. The OEM expects EASA certification toward the end of the year.
AgustaWestland expects that its 16- to 18-passenger AW189 medium-twin helicopter will be EASA certified by year-end. Four prototypes and two pre-production aircraft have logged a combined 1,900 flight hours, it said. Certification, once hoped for this summer, is now “very close,” according to a company spokesman. The first delivery, to offshore operator Bristow, is scheduled to take place by year-end, he told AIN.