In the military segment, while clearly concerned with continuing budget constraints, Sikorsky expects to achieve two milestones this year with the first flights of the CH-53K, the latest version of its heavy-lift military transport, and the S-97 Raider.
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft and their powerplants, including helicopters, tiltrotors and unmanned air vehicles.
FreeFlight Systems (Booth No. 4513) and the University of North Dakota (Booth No. 3440) received FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) approval in the Bell 206B for the FreeFlight RANGR FDL-978-XVR. This installation is now the first rule-compliant 978 MHz ADS-B IN/OUT universal access transceiver (UAT) for rotorcraft. The company and the school jointly developed the technology with contributions from the FAA’s Center for General Aviation Research (CGAR), as well as a consortium of universities.
“It has not yet flown, but it is the actual prototype number one Marenco SKYe SH09,” explained Matthias Sénès, chief commercial officer for new helicopter manufacturer Marenco (Booth No. 2203). The blades are mock-ups, but only because the actual prototype blades are on the test stand along with the engine number one, Sénès noted. “We decided it was important to bring the actual prototype this year, even though it does delay the first test flight, but there will be many test flights, and Heli-Expo is only once a year,” he explained.
Though their mission is camaraderie amongst helicopter pilots, the Twirly Birds do more than just flock together once a year to swap stories. This year the organization took advantage of its annual gathering at Heli-Expo to honor Roy Simmons with its Les Morris Award for lifetime achievement. Simmons, who has been flying helicopters for more than 50 years, was a Marine Corps aviator who went on to a career with Columbia Helicopters, where he rose to become president of the company.
Building on its Rolls-Royce M250 maintenance program, StandardAero announced during Heli-Expo 2014 that it has seen growth in its nascent Rolls-Royce RR300 program, having recently released its first engine back into service. The RR300 powers the Robinson R66 helicopter. As of yesterday StandardAero showed five recent engines coming into MRO at its Winnipeg, Canada location, and 50 scheduled globally.
In the wake of receiving a repair station certificate, composite rotor blade manufacturer Van Horn Aviation (VHA; Booth No. 7129) has established a repair station, operating as Van Horn Repair (VHR). Co-located with VHA’s Tempe, Ariz. manufacturing facility, the operation will specialize in repairing VHA composite rotor blades.
“The repair station certificate allows us to better serve our customers by providing in-house repair and replacement of both warrantied and non-warrantied parts, said VHA president James Van Horn.
Enstrom Helicopter unveiled a mockup of a new, low-cost, two-seat piston-powered trainer yesterday at Heli-Expo 2014 in Anaheim, Calif. The TH-180 is a scaled-down version of the company’s three-seat FX-280.
Company officials said the TH-180 should have direct operating costs of $175 per hour and an hourly fuel burn of less than 12 gph. The launch price is $365,000. It will be powered by the 210-hp Lycoming HIO-390 and feature an engine governor and electric clutch switch. First flight is anticipated this summer and certification is targeted for 2015.
New Airbus Helicopter CEO Guillaume Faury and the head of its U.S. arm, Marc Paganini, were visibly penitent when discussing the company’s traditionally problematic customer service yesterday at Heli-Expo. Faury left no doubt that he is committed to focusing more company resources and attention on product support. “It is time for new priorities,” he said. Paganini echoed that sentiment, admitting, “We need to do better.”
“It has not yet flown, but it is the actual prototype number one Marenco SKYe SH09,” Matthias Sénès, chief commercial officer for start-up Marenco Swisshelicopter, said in explaining the helicopter it has on display this week at Heli-Expo 2014. The blades are mock-ups, but only because the actual prototype blades are on the test stand along with the engine, Sénès noted.
For Sikorsky, 2013 was a mixed bag, according to company president Mick Maurer, who gave his company’s year-end summary presentation yesterday at Heli-Expo. While the company reached a record backlog of more than $15 billion, it also recorded an 8-percent drop in sales, to $6.3 billion, the decrease driven largely by a drop-off in U.S. government orders on both the OEM side and the aftermarket segment last year.