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).
The Pacific offshore helicopter symposium will be held in Australia next month in the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Center at Darling Harbour. Topics to be discussed at the October 8 event include the new CASA rules on commercial operations such as the latest IFR, copilot qualifications and multi-engine performance standards. Changes to the latter could result in many hospital helipads and oil rig platforms operations being considered unsuitable for the current crop of medium to heavy helicopters, unless the new EASA rules are modified.
While Bell Helicopter may be banking on its tiltrotor technology to recapture market dominance in U.S. Army aviation, the civil market will continue to rely on conventional helicopter design for some years to come, CEO John Garrison told AIN.
Russian Helicopters’ Ansat light twin helicopter was certified late last week by Russia’s Aviation Register of the Interstate Aviation Committee, albeit with conventional flight controls in lieu of the original fly-by-wire (FBW) system.
Certain helicopter makers such as Enstrom and various kit makers have long been a staple at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) annual AirVenture convention. For Enstrom, the journey represents a little more than an hour’s flight from its factory in Menominee, Mich. However, other mainline helicopter OEMs historically have been reluctant to exhibit at the nation’s largest airshow–until this year.
The tiltrotor test rig (TTR) development team at NASA Ames Research Center was honored today with a 2013 NASA Group Achievement Award. Team members include personnel from NASA Ames, Bell Helicopter and Triumph Aerospace Systems. The TTR is a joint project among NASA, the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force to develop a new large-scale system that can test prop-rotors up to 26 feet in diameter at speeds up to 300 knots, allowing for advanced research on tiltrotors and other rotorcraft concepts.