The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive for the Eurocopter EC155B, EC155B1, SA365N1, AS365N2 and AS365N3 requiring visual inspection of the tail-rotor hub for a crack and removal if one is found. The AD is prompted by reports of cracks on two tail-rotor hubs. These actions are intended to prevent the tail rotor from jamming, which could lead to reduced control or loss of control of the helicopter.
Russian Helicopters has received an order for 18 Ka-226TG light twins from NefteGazAeroCosmos, a “research and production center” linked to Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom. Six helicopters are scheduled for delivery next year and the remaining dozen in 2014.
Russian Helicopters, the company that parents Russia’s two helicopter design bureaus and five helicopter-manufacturing plants, is moving forward with a new-generation helicopter that is intended to replace the hugely successful Mil Mi-8/17 series. The new project, dubbed Rachel (Russian advanced commercial helicopter), clearly has many military applications.
American Eurocopter’s blade shop in Grand Prairie, Texas, is a busy place. The 20 craftsmen repair and refurbish 1,000 helicopter main and tail rotor blades every year. That translates into 95 percent of all Eurocopter blade work in the U.S.
Much of the work is done by hand. “It is a slow process,” acknowledges shop manager Jim Tully. “It would be nice if we could find a way to go faster, but it has to be done the same way. With fiberglass, it wouldn’t take long to scrap out a blade completely” if a mistake were made.
A test aircraft assigned to Bell Helicopter’s XworX research-and-development division crashed Tuesday morning 10 miles from Avalon, Texas. The two-pilot crew was uninjured.
Wreckage video taken by a Dallas television station shows that the twin-engine Bell 214ST was flying a main-rotor system that had five blades when pilots made an emergency landing in a field and then gently rolled onto its right side. The video does not show any remains of the tail rotor.
A global team of research organizations is quietly working on an active rotor blade in which distributed piezo-electric actuators can change blade twist almost continuously over the course of one blade revolution. Partners can be found in the U.S., Europe and Asia. A full test campaign is scheduled for next year.
Eurocopter released a statement on June 15, absolving the UK’s Bond Offshore Helicopters of responsibility for the May 10, 2012 ditching of an EC225 Super Puma into the North Sea.
The EASA and FAA have issued new emergency Airworthiness Directives (ADs) for the Eurocopter EC135 after detection of cracks on the lower hub-shaft flange of two more of the light twins. The ADs require repetitive preflight inspections.
The FAA issued a second Emergency Airworthiness Directive [2012-10-53] for the Eurocopter EC135 on May 18. This EAD supercedes the earlier EAD [2012-10-51] for an inspection of the main rotor hub shaft flange for cracks.
Composite Technology, a Sikorsky Aerospace Services company based at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, has opened a $15 million structure to dynamically balance helicopter main rotor blades. It can test main rotor blades that rotate either clockwise or counterclockwise, and its two 3,000-shp, variable-frequency drive motors make it suitable for light to heavy helicopters. A test involves three blades: a precision-balanced master blade and two test blades. One blade can weigh up to 500 pounds.