The Eurocopter EC 145 has received the first certification for night vision goggle- aided civil operations. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the capability in May, and the FAA and Transport Canada (TC) are expected to follow suit this fall. The modification is available as original equipment and retrofit.
Eurocopter this summer unveiled two modernized facilities at Donauwörth, its main German industrial site. Its blade shop saw a complete re-engineering aimed at reducing lead times and optimizing the production process. Consequently, its production and repair capacities have increased by 40 percent. Design, engineering, production process and quality control and customer service are now housed in one building.
Air Methods’ products division has been selected by American Eurocopter to provide medical interiors, avionics and airframe accessories for the AS 350 and EC 130. Air Methods says it is capable of 10 to 20 conversions per year. Each conversion has a market value of approximately $500,000. Air Methods has performed almost 40 Eurocopter EMS modifications over the last four years.
While broadcasting a police chase on July 27 over Phoenix, a pair of Eurocopter AS350-B2 helicopters collided when their pilots apparently lost sight of each other, killing both pilot/reporters and their cameramen. The dead were identified as KNXV Channel 15 pilot/reporter Craig Smith and his cameraman, Rick Krolak, and KTVK Channel 3 pilot/reporter Scott Bowerbank and his cameraman, Jim Cox.
Eurocopter will make its EC 145 available with certified night-vision goggle (NVG) capability in Europe, Canada and the U.S. The NVG configuration will be available for new helicopters and as a retrofit for those already in service. Eurocopter said it plans to extend NVG capability to the EC 135 next and to other models “on customer request.”
Eurocopter logged orders for 114 civil and military helicopters worth E1.2 billion at this year’s Paris Air Show and says it is on track to sell 700 helicopters this year. This summer the company also logged more orders from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which bought eight additional American Eurocopter AS 350B3 AStars in July.
Frank Robinson, the 74-year-old firm-handed founder, chairman and president of Robinson Helicopter, says that as long as he’s sitting behind the big desk he’ll do exactly what he pleases. What pleases him? “Keeping it simple,” he explained, “and when I retire or die, whoever takes my place, hopefully, keeps that long-standing philosophy of mine alive.”
The first production Eurocopter EC 225 medium twin made its maiden flight in late June. Eurocopter said the “flawless” event lasted just over two hours. The EC 225 is powered by two Turbomeca Makila 2A modular turboshafts, an engine that has just been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Each of the powerplants generates 2,413 shp in contingency mode–14 percent more than the previous model.
Eurocopter’s EC 135 helicopter continues to find a welcome among emergency operators. At the Farnborough Air Show, the manufacturer reported orders for better than one EC 135 helicopter per week on average as operators bought the light twin-engine helicopter in record numbers. Last month alone, operators bought 14 EC 135s, and total deliveries to date exceed 340.
Eurocopter AS 350B3, Yellow Pine, Idaho, Aug. 13, 2006–The NTSB determined that the U.S. Forest Service contract pilot’s intentional low-altitude flight and his failure to maintain an adequate altitude to clear the trees was the cause of the crash of the AS 350, which killed all four on board.