Russian operator UTAir has secured a seven-year loan from British bank HSBC, on a security of French insurance agency Coface. It has thus become “the first Russian airline receiving insurance wrap from an international export agency for purchasing helicopters,” claims UTAir. The contract is for 19 Eurocopter AS350/AS355 Ecureuil/AStar singles.
Eurocopter, which is nearing completion of a new development center in Donauwörth, Germany, that will house 900 engineers, has begun building another development center in Marignane, France. Employees currently based in Ottobrunn will move to the new German facility next spring. In Marignane, the project includes the construction of a “Helicopter Zero” building, with test benches integrating various helicopter systems to be delivered in April. New construction will start in July, with the goal of accommodating 1,000 people in “plateau” concurrent engineering.
Armenian airline Armavia is set to resume operations with Sukhoi’s Superjet 100 after the first full production example of the new narrowbody (S/N 95007) left Zhukovsky airfield near Moscow to be delivered to the carrier’s headquarters at Yerevan’s Zvatnots Airport on October 2.
Having acquired a Eurocopter full EC135 flight simulator from Thales, French helicopter operator SAF Hélicoptères inaugurated its “training academy” on June 15, bringing access to flight simulators to pilots of light helicopters. The €5 million ($6.3 million) training center, located near Albertville in the French Alps, will be available to pilots from other operators next year. SAF anticipates running the simulator 2,000 hours annually.
Piper Aircraft delivered its 500th Meridian turboprop single last week. The milestone aircraft was handed over to SouthEast Piper for delivery to the aircraft’s undisclosed Florida-based owner. “The delivery of the 500th Piper Meridian, since first delivery in 2000, emphasizes its enduring value proposition even during recent periods of economic uncertainty around the world,” said Piper president and CEO Simon Caldecott. “Single-engine Piper turboprops are growing in popularity as replacements for less economical twin-engine jets and turboprops.”
Gulfstream Aerospace earned long-awaited full certifications of its super-midsize G280 and wide-cabin, ultra-long-range G650 last month. The G280 obtained full approval from two aviation authorities–the U.S. FAA and Israeli CAAI–on September 3, and the G650 received full FAA certification four days later.
The FAA announced September 7 that it would launch an investigation into the Lee County, Fla. MedStar helicopter EMS program. MedStar is operated by the county’s Division of Public Safety and flies a Bell 430 and an MBB BO105. Lee County abruptly shuttered MedStar, at the time it said temporarily, August 21 and terminated its pilots and top managers following reports of operational deficiencies and billing irregularities; however, the program had been under strain since the Aug.
A new FAA advisory circular has warned of the dangers posed by foreign object damage (FOD). Debris removed from airport ramps, taxiways or runways can wreak havoc on turbine engines and FOD costs the airline industry $12 million annually according to the FAA. The crash of an Air France Concorde in 2000 near Le Bourget Airport (LFPB) in Paris, the result of a small piece of metal the aircraft hit during its takeoff roll, underscored the dangers of FOD.
Eclipse Aerospace announced last week that an anti-skid braking system will become an available option on new production Eclipse 550 jets as a retrofit item to all existing aircraft. The new anti-skid system adds 17 pounds to the aircraft’s empty weight; the company says it will offer a weight-reduction package to help offset the new feature.
Joined by top U.S. transportation officials, Boeing and American Airlines showcased the 737-800 “ecoDemonstrator” flying testbed at Washington Reagan National Airport on September 18. Boeing had flown the aircraft from its flight-test facility at Glasgow, Montana, the preceding day using a biofuel blend made partially from used cooking oil.