Eurocopter is currently developing a production version of the electric backup motor it tested on an AS350 Ecureuil single in 2011, company CEO Guillaume Faury revealed last week, noting that improvements in motors and electric energy storage have made a sound business case for such hybrid power. While not powerful enough to act as a second engine, the system would make autorotation safer by avoiding any rpm drop and then providing some power in the flare.
China-based Avicopter has delivered the first three AC311 Air Sprites. The six-seat light single can be powered by a Honeywell LTS101-700D-2 or a license-produced Turbomeca Arriel 2B1A. Its mtow is 4,850 pounds and endurance claimed to be four hours. The helicopter received its Chinese certification last year. The AC311 resembles the Eurocopter Ecureuil/AStar.
Eurocopter held an inauguration event last month to celebrate its new manufacturing center of excellence in Querétaro, Mexico. The facility is located at the Aerotech Industrial Park. In addition to manufacturing tail booms for Ecureuil helicopters, the center also makes structures for Airbus doors and houses a new 11,000-sq-ft Ecureuil maintenance facility. Eurocopter has been active in Mexico for 50 years and also celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Eurocopter de Mexico subsidiary. In Querétaro, Eurocopter will create about 200 jobs.
Early in December, Eurocopter and the EASA published an additional emergency service bulletin and accompanying emergency AD. All AS350/AS355 Ecureuil (AStar and TwinStar) models are affected. Although no evidence of laminated half-bearing deterioration has been found on pre-B3e models, inspections are mandated. However, as the inspection interval is 10 hours, the AD will probably cause less inconvenience than those affecting the B3e.
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 is hoping to establish a completion center for its Ecureuil light helicopter series in Tianjin, China, next year. Company president Lutz Bertling inked a memorandum of understanding today with Feng Zhijiang, president of the Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TFTZ). The agreement aims at “exploring the creation of a completion and customization center.”
RTE (Réseau de Transport d’Electricité), the company managing France’s network of electric power lines, took delivery of its second medium twin, a Eurocopter EC225, last month. It recently created a new subsidiary, Airtelis, that offers specialized aerial-work operations to third parties. In more than 250,000 flight hours over decades of operations, RTE claims to have developed patented techniques to use helicopters in power-line building, maintenance and surveillance.
Business and VIP helicopter sales are recovering, according to Eurocopter. “After the downturn that hit us between late 2008 and early 2010, we are seeing new demand coming from Brazil, Russia, India and China. Moreover, the U.S. is in a healthier position,” Patrice Royer, the manufacturer’s head of business and private aviation sales, told AIN. This segment, however, is deemed fragile, as it is closely tied to the fortunes to those of stock markets, which themselves remain volatile.
Eurocopter is anticipating a ramp-up in the production of the EC225 and the AS350 Ecureuil by 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, at its factory in Marignane, France. For “better reactivity,” it has signed an agreement with Segula Technologies to take over the latter’s “structure assembly” activity in the neighboring city of Aix-en-Provence.
Eurocopter expects to ramp up production of the EC225 medium twin and AS350 Ecureuil light single by 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, at its Marignane, France factory. For “better reactivity,” it has signed an agreement with Segula Technologies to take over the latter’s “structure assembly” activity in the neighboring city of Aix-en-Provence.
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