Eurocopter AS 350B2 Ecureuil, Loris, S.C., July 2, 2009–The AS 350 suffered substantial damage while landing to pick up a patient at a hospital helipad. The tail rotor struck a steel pole, causing vibration and forcing the pilot to land immediately and shut down.
Sikorsky Aircraft yesterday said it has begun whirl testing a demonstration rotor system with active flaps as part of the company’s “commitment to design, develop, test and ultimately field next-generation technologies that will advance the current state of rotorcraft.” Development partners on the project are United Technologies Research Center for the blades and Hamilton Sundstrand Claverham for the flap actuators.
The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has issued a special bulletin concerning the April 1 crash of a Eurocopter AS 332L2 Super Puma in the sea near Peterhead, Scotland. The investigation has determined that a failure within the epicyclic reduction gearbox module of the main rotor gearbox caused the rupture of the gearbox case, which allowed the main rotor head to separate from the helicopter.
Israel’s Urban Aeronautics is ground-testing its unmanned Mule fancraft, an unconventional rotorcraft featuring two shrouded main rotors in tandem configuration that should one day have a manned version for rescue missions in cities. The first untethered flight of the Mule, originally scheduled to take place in the spring, has been postponed until September or October.
All 16 people aboard a Eurocopter AS 332L2 Super Puma operated by Bond Offshore Helicopters died when the medium twin hit the surface of the North Sea on April 1, after what the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) called a catastrophic failure of the main gearbox.
McDonnell Douglas MD 600, San Clemente, Calif., Feb. 19, 2009– The U.S. Customs and Border Protection MD 600 autorotated to a forced landing on the beach after the crew heard a loud “bang” and warning lights came on. A main rotor blade severed the tail boom. Examination of the engine showed that both engine chip detector plugs were contaminated with metal particles. The No. 4 turbine wheel was damaged.
Eurocopter is working on a compound helicopter with a single main rotor, a fixed wing with two propellers in puller configuration and no tail rotor, probably in response to Sikorsky’s X2 and Bell/Agusta Aerospace’s BA609 Tiltrotor, which are attempts to create a faster rotorcraft. The Marignane, France-based helicopter manufacturer in May last year filed a patent application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Just two days after the second Rolls-Royce RR300-powered Robinson R66 made its first flight in February, Robinson Helicopter CEO Frank Rob- inson still had little good to say about small turbine-powered helicopters.
Hughes 369A, Moulton, Ala., May 13, 2007–The NTSB blamed the crash of the 369 on the separation of its main rotor blade from its tension torsion bar, but
the Board could not determine a reason for the separation. The pilot had recently bought the helicopter and an annual inspection was done just before the sale.
A main rotor blade was replaced and
Northwest Helicopters (Booth No. 2989) has developed carbon-fiber main rotor blades for the Bell UH-1H, 205 and 212. STC approval is expected by the end of 2009. Northwest said the blades will have longer life limits, improved high/hot performance, decreased fuel flow and dual trim tabs for a smoother ride. First year production of UH-1H blades already is sold out, according to the company.