A large helicopter crashed last month near Norfolk, Va., and not only wasn’t the National Transportation Safety Board mobilized; it probably even had advance warning. The planned wreck was part of a continuing series of rotorcraft crash tests sponsored by NASA in partnership with the FAA, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army, dating back to 2009.
Bell Helicopter delivered the first Bell 407GX to be operated in Russia to Helidrive in St. Petersburg, the rotorcraft manufacturer announced yesterday. The 407GX, which was officially handed over to Helidrive–Bell’s independent representative in northwest Russia–last week, will be used for both private and charter flights. To date, Bell has delivered more than 1,100 Bell 407s, including nearly 100 Bell 407GXs.
Bell Helicopter has delivered the first of its new Bell 407GX aircraft in Russia. St Petersburg-based Helidrive, which is the U.S. manufacturer’s independent representative in northwest Russia, will be using the new single for private and charter use. Bell is displaying an example of the 407GX at this week’s JetExpo show in Moscow.
Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services was re-certified as a Sikorsky authorized S-76 and S-61 overhaul and repair center and as a Sikorsky authorized customer support center for the S-76. Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services will continue to provide Sikorsky operators with scheduled maintenance for the S-76 and repair, major overhaul and testing of certain S-76 and S-61 components.
In the UK AAIB’s second update on the investigation into the August 23 Eurocopter AS332L2 Super Puma fatal accident, it appears the helicopter was “intact,” with “both engines delivering power,” when it struck the sea. The attitude was near level pitch with a slight right bank.
Marenco Swisshelicopter expects to complete final assembly of its first SKYe SH09 prototype “over the coming weeks,” the company told AIN. CEO Martin Stucki said testing of the helicopter’s gearboxes and rotors is confirming expectations and simulations. According to the program’s schedule, the prototype of the light single will fly four to six weeks after the start of ground tests.
NASA researchers recently conducted drop tests of a Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight to test improved seats and seat belts. They recorded the crash from more than 350 data channels as the helicopter, suspended by cables, was dropped into a bed of soil from 30 feet up. Just before impact, pyrotechnic devices released the suspension cables from the helicopter to allow free flight toward impact with a forward speed of approximately 30 mph.
UK helicopter charter specialist PremiAir revealed plans to brand its Blackbushe base (near TAG Farnborough Airport) as the West London Heliport, following the company’s restructuring under new ownership. More details will be revealed at the Helitech show, which will be held September 24 to 26 at the Excel center in London’s Docklands. The company also plans to acquire its own twin-engine helicopters to “build up a managed fleet of helicopters it will both maintain and offer for third-party charter.”
The Turkish government has tasked Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) with designing and building a home-grown helicopter to replace that country’s aging fleet of Bell UH-1s and for the export market. The deal could rely on a technology transfer from Sikorsky, and it is likely TAI will need to go engine shopping on the international market. TAI hopes to have a prototype flying within three years. Turkey is the world’s ninth-largest helicopter market, and its military estimates a need for up to 800 helicopters in the coming decade.
Even as the presence of helicopter OEMs doubled in India (to 10 from five), double-digit growth in its civil helicopter fleet in the seven years preceding 2011 gave way to negative growth last year when the fleet reduced from 293 to 266.
High operational costs, exacerbated by a depreciated rupee that fell 35 percent in the past 40 months, are posing challenges for the industry. “It’s a cumulative result of lack of optimum utilization, safety performance, infrastructure constraints and regulatory issues,” said K. Sridharan, president of the Rotary Wing Society of India (RWSI).