At Heli-Expo today, Eurocopter unveiled the EC130 T2, an updated version of its venerable single-engine helicopter. It also announced orders for 105 of the new aircraft from seven launch customers: Maverick Helicopters, Papillon Helicopters, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Scandinavian Helicopter Group, Air Commander, Europavia and Enloe FlightCare. The EC130 T2 is powered by the Turbomeca Arriel 2D engine, which provides 10 percent more average power and lower specific fuel consumption than the original powerplant and has a higher time between overhaul interval.
Eurocopter recognized its U.S. affiliate American Eurocopter as the regional hub for MRO for the Eurocopter EC135 and EC145 for North American and Latin American customers. American Eurocopter can provide up to D-level MRO for EC135 and EC145 airframes, blades and dynamic components. The company also provides full service and support for the AS350, EC120, EC130, EC155 and AS365. “This designation reflects our substantial investment in support and services in recent years and our close cooperation with Eurocopter,” said Marc Paganini, president and CEO of American Eurocopter.
Eurocopter expects that its recently tested helicopter hybrid power concept will enter commercial service, soon perhaps as early as next year.
Russia-based operator UTair has received a certificate of conformity to Eurocopter training standards, thus becoming the first Eurocopter training center without the manufacturer being a shareholder in the company. UTair’s Tyumen center is now approved for type-rating training of pilots and mechanics on the AS350 and AS355, in Russian, under Eurocopter programs.
The FAA awarded an STC to Cobham for installation of its HeliSAS autopilot and stability augmentation system on Eurocopter’s AS350 and EC130. HeliSAS is designed for use in all phases of flight and automatically returns the helicopter to a near-level attitude when the pilot releases the controls. The system costs and weighs much less than traditional large military and commercial helicopter autopilot systems, according to Cobham.
Turbomeca has received EASA certification for its 950-shp Arriel 2D turboshaft, destined to power the Eurocopter AS350B3e Squirrel. The Arriel 2D is said to provide better performance (its predecessor stood at 848 shp) for lower fuel consumption. The initial 4,000-hour TBO is expected to increase to 6,000 hours.
Last month in Marignane, France, Eurocopter quietly flew the first prototype of a helicopter that is to replace the EC130 light single and possibly the entire Ecureuil family, Jean-Michel Billig, the companyπs executive vice president for research and development, told AIN yesterday. The program is codenamed X2, although it has no relationship with Sikorskyπs technology demonstrator of the same name. Certification is planned for 2013.
Eurocopter has inked a contract with the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment in Thailand for one EC135 light twin. Delivery is planned for December this year. The helicopter will be used for exploration and surveillance flights. In Vietnam, Vinacopter has ordered four Eurocopters as the launch fleet for its newly created tourism and VIP transport subsidiary, HeliVietnam.
Eurocopter has voiced concerns about the safety of supplemental type certificates (STC), claiming three times more accidents are caused by STC’d hardware than by the original aircraft. The European helicopter manufacturer is concerned that some STCs cover such a wide array of major modifications that certifying a new version of the helicopter would be a more prudent course.
The Swiss civil aviation authority (OFAC) has restricted the use of mobile landing platforms for helicopters with skids. From now on, only operators and pilots with “sufficient guarantees” will be allowed to use such ground equipment. Pilots must be experienced and properly trained.