Finding new life for military surplus helicopters is the ultimate in recycling, and Portland, Ore.-based Columbia Helicopters (Booth No. 4706) has everything it needs to recycle the three rugged Boeing CH-47D Chinooks it purchased recently from the U.S. government.
The cost of converting the UK’s fleet of 25 AW101 Merlin Mk3 transport helicopters for future use as Mk4s by the Royal Marines Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) will be £330 million ($545 million). British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed the amount during a visit to AgustaWestland’s Yeovil factory, where much of the work will be done. He also announced that the Anglo-Italian company is receiving a five-year follow-on integrated operational support (IOS) contract worth £430 million ($710 million) for the British Army’s Apache AH.1 fleet.
The first ICH-47F Chinook helicopter destined for the Italian army made its maiden flight on June 24 at Vergiate, in northern Italy, program prime contractor AgustaWestland announced.
Boeing is investing $130 million to overhaul the Boeing CH-47 Chinook production line in Ridley Park, Pa., making it the largest capital investment made by the company’s Defense, Space & Security segment. The project to renovate 223,000 sq ft of production space around lean manufacturing principles will be completed in October.
Boeing announced the first flight of an upgraded UK Royal Air Force Ch-47 Chinook. It also confirmed that the entire current fleet of 46 UK Chinooks will receive the new cockpit displays and mission avionics, supplied by Thales from its TopDeck range, by 2016. The upgrade also includes more powerful Honeywell T55-l-714A engines, new defensive systems, nose-mounted FLIR and new secure communications.
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) plans to order 22 new Chinooks, in its latest response to widespread criticism over the shortage of heavy helicopter lift to support British troops in Afghanistan. Last September, the RAF announced for its existing fleet of 38 Chinooks a $650 million upgrade program named Project Julius that consists of a cockpit upgrade and more powerful engines.
In September the UK defense ministry announced a contract to upgrade the Royal Air Force’s 46-strong Boeing Chinook support helicopter force. Known as Project Julius, and driven partly by the extraordinary demands of sustained operations in Afghanistan, the program consists of re-engining and a cockpit upgrade.
Boeing took a long-expected order from Canada for 15 CH-47F Chinook helicopters worth $1.15 billion. These will be new-build helicopters, to enter service in 2013 and 2014. Boeing said it would offset the entire contract value with contracts and partnerships in Canada. Canada already operates six CH-47Ds that it acquired urgently last year from the U.S. Army, for service in Afghanistan.
In a development that speaks volumes about the ongoing state of new helicopter technology development in America today, Boeing on July 12 revealed the 13th iteration of its much modified, through many variants and sub-variants, military CH-47 Chinook, ironically unveiling the new helicopter on the 40th anniversary year of the first flight of the number-one Chinook prototype.
The UK’s Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) boasts a permanent staff of just 45 people and a seemingly modest annual budget of £4.5 million ($6.3 million). Almost three-quarters of its personnel–31 people–are accident inspectors, including four principal inspectors (two covering operations and two for engineering); 10 operations and 10 engineering inspectors; and four FDR and CVR specialists.
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