With business remaining relatively stagnant in Europe and North America, the business aviation industry is looking to other parts of the world for growth, and nowhere is growing faster than Africa. An economic explosion in the exploitation of oil/gas and mineral reserves is driving a need for a boom in corporate aviation, not only to support internal operations, but also to bring in the executives from overseas who represent a major increase in inward investment into the continent, especially from China.
Alexander Mikheev has been named CEO of Russian Helicopters. He previously served as deputy CEO of Rosoboronexport, Russia’s weapon export agency.
Heli-One, the maintenance subsidiary of operator CHC, has won a contract to modify two second-hand Eurocopter AS332L1 Super Pumas for all-weather search-and-rescue operations in the Arctic region. Norway-based Lufttransport AS will operate them from Svalbard, midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, starting next spring. There, at 78 degrees north, one of the main challenges is around-the-clock darkness in winter, the two companies emphasized.
Oxford-based A2B Heli Maintenance is expanding the portfolio of helicopter types it works on. It plans to add Bell and AgustaWestland types to the current Sikorsky S-76 and Eurocopter EC120, AS350/355, EC135, AS365, EC155 and BO105. A2B, which holds EASA Part 145 approval, offers a range of services, from line maintenance to pre-buy survey and training.
Director Andy Bloxham expects to service 10 to 15 aircraft per yearas the three-year-old company becomes established. Under its airworthiness management activity, it already oversees 21 helicopters. A2B has seven employees.
Certification of the EC145T2, an upgraded version of Eurocopter’s light twin, is now expected next spring rather than this year, as originally planned. Program leader Manfred Merk attributed the delay to longer-than-expected aerodynamic and avionics development work.
“It took us one month to solve a problem that was appearing in sideways flight,” Merk said. The helicopter was shaking, a certification red flag, so the engineers recontoured the edge of the vertical tail fin and the mod proved successful.
AgustaWestland expects its AW189 and AW169 medium twins to achieve certification by the end of next year.
Eurofighter has signed a new development contract with the four European partner nations for the Typhoon. The Evolution Package 2 (EP2) comprises various improvements to the combat jet’s avionics. Two days earlier, EADS Cassidian said that flight testing of an earlier set of improvements had been completed.
Sikorsky Aircraft is lobbying to replace AgustaWestland (AW) as the supplier of VIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force. The company is already building fuselages for the S-92 in India. Meanwhile, the Indian Minister of Defense confirmed that the ministry had sent a legal notice to AgustaWestland regarding the contract for 12 AW101s, now in jeopardy after the company allegedly violated the terms of a pre-integrity pact. The company has 21 days to respond.
Eight senior air force commanders from the U.S., Europe and the Middle East have agreed to speak at the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference (DIAC), which immediately precedes the Dubai Air Show on November 16. They include the British and French air force commanders, and the commander of the USAF’s Central Command. Their decision to attend the conference and show may reflect a desire to reassure allies in the Gulf of their support, after recent disagreements over policy toward Egypt and Syria.
In its report on a 2011 incident in which a Sikorsky S-92 nearly crashed off the Canadian coast, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada implicates the pilots’ poor understanding of automation, insufficient basic flying skills and a misleading flight manual, which it says caused an inadvertent, vertiginous descent.