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.
The second Robinson R66 made its first flight on February 18 and a third is under construction at the company’s headquarters in nearby Torrance, Calif. All Heli-Expo’09 attendees are invited to the Robinson factory on Tuesday for facility tours beginning at noon followed by a preview of the R66 at 3 p.m.
Eurocopter AS 350B2, Hiram, Ga., May 21, 2008–The NTSB attributed the buckling of the AS 350’s tail boom to failure of the starflex arm during engine run-up due to inadequate maintenance inspection. After the pilot started the engine at Caffery Heliport and advanced the power to flight rpm, the helicopter shook violently.
Bell 206B JetRanger, Longview, Wash., Oct. 10, 2008–The Northwest Helicopters JetRanger lost power while hauling tree limbs. The pilot attempted a power-out forced landing at the bottom of a steep ravine covered with 30-foot conifer trees. The pilot was seriously injured and the helicopter was substantially damaged.
Start-up manufacturer Hélicoptères Guimbal delivered its first Cabri G2 two-seater to French-based operator Ixair on September 19. The company claims this aircraft brings new technology to the Robinson R22 and Schweizer 300 market, notably in terms of safety.
Bell 206L-1 LongRanger, Heber Springs, Ark., Aug. 11, 2008–The LongRanger, registered to Hillsboro Aviation of Hillsboro, Ore., partially lost engine power while maneuvering near Heber Springs. In the course of a forced landing, the tailboom separated, the main rotor blades bent and the right side of the fuselage was damaged. The ATP-rated pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured.
At a small airfield near Horseheads, N.Y., Sikorsky is slowly expanding the flight envelope of its X2 technology demonstrator. After a first flight at the end of August, the coaxial rotor helicopter is currently midway through the first of four flight-test phases that should enable it to reach a forward speed of 250 knots by the middle of next year.
Biggin Hill, UK-based helicopter charter operator Sky Charter has been designated the UK dealer for PZL Swidnik rotorcraft. The company has ordered three SW4 light singles and is expecting deliveries next spring.
Just a few years ago Eurocopter scored a major coup at an HAI Heli-Expo show, amazing the crowds by introducing a new helicopter as a completely certified aircraft instead of a promise-laden prototype encumbered with the usual waits for first flight, inflated claims of launch customers and delays in FAA approval. Instead, Eurocopter presented its EC 130 as a done deal.
For Robinson Helicopter, switching from aluminum to stainless-steel skin for main rotor blades has been “a mixed bag,” said company vice president Kurt Robinson, who defended the move on the grounds that the change means lighter and stronger blades with better corrosion resistance. But critics argue that the stainless skins do not hold paint well and that the switch from aluminum