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
A proposed airworthiness directive for the Sikorsky S-76 would require inspections of the tail rotor vertical stabilizer aft spar assembly every 50 hours after an assembly has 1,000 hours time-in-service. It would also require track and balance of the tail rotor within 30 days and every 200 hours thereafter. The AD would affect an estimated 216 S-76A/B/Cs on the U.S. registry.
The NTSB has issued a Safety Recommendation calling for the development of nondestructive testing techniques for Robinson main rotor blades after approximately 596 hours time-in-service to check for bond defects in areas between the skin and spar at the tip of the blade and between the skin and tip cap on all R22s and R44s.
Bell 407, Morristown, Tenn., Nov. 9, 2007–The NTSB blamed the death of
In aviation, like most other industries, success breeds regulation. The bigger an industry becomes, the more the government perceives the need to regulate it, often citing reasons such as safety, unfair competition and environmental protection. Yet, in typical Darwinian fashion, most industries adapt–or die. In aviation, hush kits quiet noisier jet engines, airplanes are made RVSM compatible and helicopters are flown neighborly.
American Eurocopter has sold its first EC 145 in the U.S., to the Lee County (Florida) division of public safety/EMS. The launch customer will use the EC 145 primarily to support Lee County’s EMS operation, which encompasses the cities of Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Bonita Springs as well as 625,000 acres of coastal area and barren islands.
Eurocopter AS 355/EC 130, New York, March 22, 2008–A Liberty Helicopter Eurocopter AS 355 struck an idling Liberty Eurocopter EC 130 on takeoff from the West 30th Street Heliport. The AS 355’s skid hit the main rotor of the stationary EC 130. Damage was not substantial enough to be classified an accident and no injuries were reported for the AS 355 pilot and four passengers or the EC 130 pilot and five passengers.
Less than two weeks after the July 16 crash of a Bristow Sikorsky S-76A+ (G-BJVX) that killed all 11 passengers and crew when the helicopter apparently lost a main rotor blade and plummeted into the waters of the North Sea, the FAA issued an emergency AD covering all S-76As, -Bs, and -Cs.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has granted approval of a recent FAA-approved rotor blade tape installation STC for Robinson R22s and R44s. Airworthiness Directive 2007-26-12 was issued to address delamination of the helicopters’ main rotor blades.