The Avicopter AC352 medium-twin helicopter (previously known as the Z15, the Chinese version of the jointly developed Eurocopter EC175) is now expected to make its maiden flight in the second half of this year in China, according to Europe- and Asia-based industry sources. Entry into service is then expected late next year or early 2016. Certification had previously been planned for this year.
Airbus Helicopters (née Eurocopter) CEO Guillaume Faury announced today that the EC175 medium twin “successfully completed the EASA certification process yesterday” and the type certificate is to be issued in the coming days. (On Twitter, the EASA rather described the milestone as the “completion of the technical process” and said the type certificate will be handed over in the first quarter.) Fifteen EC175s are on the final assembly line, he said, speaking at the company’s annual press conference in Paris.
With its new name now in place, Airbus Helicopters (née Eurocopter) is embarking on a transformation, according to CEO Guillaume Faury. He wants production processes to improve, has reshuffled priorities in research and development (R&D) and envisions a new market for the company’s product line.
The new name is expected to provide better integration with the rest of the Airbus group, according to Faury. Moreover, the Airbus name has a stronger, more global impact, “especially in countries that are important to us,” such as Brazil, the U.S., China and Russia, he added.
The pilot of a Eurocopter EC130 helicopter said she was on day-visual approach to Nevada’s Boulder City Municipal Airport when the engine flamed out on a post-maintenance flight. In the January 1 incident, the aircraft was still 200 feet in the air when a “low fuel pressure” indicator light illuminated followed by the engine shutting down. The pilot attempted an autorotation but didn’t have enough forward speed to complete the maneuver. The tailboom hit the ground first followed by the main skids, which quickly separated from the airframe, resulting in substantial damage.
A UK inquiry into the April 2009 fatal crash of a Eurocopter AS332L2 Super Puma in the North Sea begins today in Aberdeen, Scotland. Operated by Bond Helicopters, the rotorcraft suffered a main rotor gearbox failure and crashed into the sea off the Aberdeenshire coast while returning from an oil platform. The accident killed the two pilots and all 14 passengers aboard.
The largest helicopter EMS provider in the U.S. is continuing its foray into the air-tour business. Air Methods has acquired Blue Hawaiian helicopters for an undisclosed sum. Blue Hawaiian flies a mixed fleet of 24 Eurocopter EC130s and AS350s and operates tours on five of Hawaii’s six islands. Last year it posted revenues of $47 million.
Guillaume Faury, who took the helm at Eurocopter in May but has rarely since met with the press, set the helicopter manufacturer’s top priorities for the future last week during a meeting organized by the French association of aerospace journalists.
The Eurocopter EC135 light twin helicopter is facing more trouble after the EASA issued an emergency airworthiness directive on December 19 referring to a manufacturer alert service bulletin that requires a one-time check of fuel probes and, possibly, cleaning and replacement. The issue, discovered by Bond Air Services, appears to be that the probes are indicating a fuel level higher than actual. Investigations showed that the incorrect signals that the probes transmit to the indicator may also inhibit the amber “fuel caution” light.
With Brazil-based BHS Helicopter, Omni and Aeróleo Taxi Aéro resuming Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma operations, all operators have reinstated the type, the helicopter manufacturer announced last week. The three Brazilian companies fly in support of Petrobras’s offshore oil-and-gas activities. The medium twin returned to service in July with Angola’s Sonair and gradually in other parts of the world, with 75 percent of the fleet back in operation as of December 20. Eurocopter identifies the other operators as CHC Helicopter, Bristow, Bond, Blueway DanCopter, Era and MHS Aviation Berhad.
The Eurocopter EC135 light twin that crashed into a busy pub on November 29 in Glasgow, Scotland, was intact when it hit the roof, but neither the main rotor nor the fenestron tail rotor were rotating at that time, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch preliminary report reveals. The helicopter had been flying for one hour and 33 minutes when the pilot requested clearance to return to Glasgow City Heliport. No further radio transmission was received.