The Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator unofficially set a new speed record for rotorcraft yesterday, as it reached 250 ktas at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Fla. At the controls was chief test pilot Kevin Bredenbeck. The 250-knot speed was the program’s main objective since launch in 2005, and was attained in level flight during a 1.1-hour sortie.
Bell 206L-3, Abilene, Texas, March 29, 2009–The NTSB determined the fatigue crack in the trailing edge of a main rotor blade was caused by interconnected porosity and resulting corrosion resulting from an undetected manufacturing defect. During a post-flight inspection following a flight in turbulence, the pilot noted the crack in the blade.
Sikorsky Aircraft announced the X2 project just over five years ago at the 2005 Paris Air Show. Now the one and only example of what the helicopter maker calls a “technology demonstrator” is poised to break the record as the world’s fastest rotorcraft as it works its way toward a target speed of 250 knots and further proof of concept.
Eurocopter’s research and development teams are working on several programs
to enhance cabin comfort by creating a smoother–and quieter–ride.
Among the solutions on the horizon is a five-blade main rotor for the EC155
and EC225, and a piezo-active rotor designated Blue Pulse.
The lobbying association for the French helicopter industry, the Union Française de l’Hélicoptère (UFH), is raising concerns about gestating noise rules that could practically ban commercial flights from urban areas. The association fears legislators are writing such a rule with input only from heli- port neighbors, some of whom are members of anti-helicopter associations.
Bell 206B, Auberry, Calif., Jan. 5, 2010–The JetRanger, registered to Palm Springs Aviation and operated by the California Department of Fish and Game, was on a deer surveying flight in VMC when witnesses saw it flying through a valley spanned by power lines. As the helicopter approached the vicinity of the lines it was seen to “rear back” and immediately descend.
Over the last year, Van Horn Aviation (Booth No. 3409) has introduced new tail-rotor blades for the Bell 206 and 206L models that the company says significantly reduce noise, pedal forces and maintenance requirements and have a higher life limit than OEM blades. The new 206L tail-rotor blades received an FAA STC on February 8.
New technology is a main focus of Eurocopter at Heli-Expo 2010. At its booth (No. 3128) the company is showing rotor blade technologies designed to reduce noise and vibration, and an avionics technology that promises to improve pilot situational awareness and safety.
There are surprisingly active developments in the single-engine helicopter field, with new rotorcraft on the way such as the turbine-powered Robinson R66 and Sikorsky S-434. Kit manufacturer RotorWay is even coming to market with a planned certified turbine helicopter, the 300T Eagle, announced at last year’s EAA AirVenture show. The Russian Helicopters Mi-34S2 Sapsan will also offer turbine power.
Bell Helicopter’s XworX special projects and rapid prototyping center exists to give customers added value, according to Nick Lappos, senior vice president for XworX. Lappos says XworX can “be more agile and use non-traditional methods” for things such as blueprint release and purchasing to get the job done faster.