The UK CAA unveiled a series of stringent measures today as a result of a review it launched last September to improve the safety of helicopter operations in the North Sea. These changes are expected to improve survivability after a ditching.
The first robot built for Airbus’s Futurassy research and technology project arrived at the airframer’s Puerto Real plant in Cadiz, Spain, this week. The riveting unit, built by Japan’s Kawada, will help Airbus machinists assemble A380 rudder spars.
The investigation into the EC135 fatal crash on November 29 in Glasgow, Scotland, is struggling to find any specific cause or telltale evidence. The investigators have determined that both of the helicopter’s engines flamed out, according to a special bulletin the Air Accidents Investigation Branch published on Friday. They now still have to understand why this happened with a functional fuel system and 25 gallons of fuel in the tanks.
France’s Zodiac Aerospace has unveiled a new in-flight ice detection system capable of detecting ice in any format, including large droplets. Zodiac says current systems are incapable of detecting ice crystals. The new ice-detection system is set to begin flight-testing in 2016, with service entry planned for 2017.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (Booth H72) and Geological Survey of India are to deploy a Dhruv light twin helicopter equipped with geophysical equipment for mineral exploration. The dedicated aircraft was formally unveiled and named Garuda Vasudha by the country’s minister of mines, Dinsha Patel, in New Delhi last month. The Indian government is hoping to cut its oil import bill by finding such resources in its soil.
Current in-flight icing detection systems (FIDS) cannot detect ice crystals. But equipment manufacturer Zodiac Aerospace (Booth E07) is developing a new FIDS, using optical techniques. It will detect any form of icing and will be able to tell which form of ice–small or large supercooled droplets, crystal and so forth–is impacting the aircraft. It will give the crew specific warnings when large-droplet icing conditions or ice crystals are encountered, François Larue, head of research and technology of Zodiac’s Aircraft Systems division, told AIN.
Researchers are gradually coming to understand the physics of in-flight engine icing due to ice crystals. In response to this enhanced knowledge of the subject, civil aviation authorities, such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), are considering more stringent certification requirements.
In response to an RFP issued last year, the city council of Livermore, Calif., has signed an agreement with Hayward, Calif.-based Five Rivers Aviation to establish a new FBO at the San Francisco airport and take over fueling operations from the municipality. The proposed plan calls initially for a 25,000-sq-ft facility that would include the terminal and hangar space for transient aircraft, as well as for tenant businesses such as aircraft maintenance (which is not currently available). Two subsequent construction phases would each add another 25,000 sq ft of hangar space.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) says he wants the FAA to apply noise rules to all helicopters transiting the Los Angeles basin, including those flown by emergency services. “Not all law-enforcement flights are emergencies,” Schiff said during an interview with SoCal public radio station KCRW.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is stepping up efforts to improve helicopter operational safety after adding this to its Most Wanted list of goals for increased awareness and advocacy.
In a January 14 statement, the NTSB said that between January 2003 and May 2013 there were 1,470 helicopter accidents, resulting in 477 fatalities and 274 serious injuries. The Board is concerned that helicopter accidents will continue to happen unless a concerted effort is made to improve the safety of rotary-wing operations.