France’s civil aviation authority, the DGAC, has approved the idea of training medical personnel as helicopter emergency medical service (Hems) “technical crewmembers,” beginning October 8. This change should meet the EASA IR-OPS requirement, which France opted out of for two years. Most helicopter EMS flights in the country today are conducted by a single pilot.
The EASA has certified the redesigned vertical bevel gear shaft for the Airbus Helicopters EC225, which has suffered in-flight failures and a nine-month grounding in 2012 and 2013. Manufacturing of the redesigned gear shaft is under way for production aircraft and for retrofits, and installations for both applications are slated to begin in the second half of this year.
The FAA said yesterday that it will delay by one year the April 22, 2014, compliance deadline to implement pilot training and qualification, airspace and other operational provisions in the new helicopter safety rule.
The EASA certified the Airbus Helicopters EC145T2, an upgraded version of the light twin with new engines and a shrouded tail rotor, late last week. The approval covers the helicopter’s full range of capabilities, the company said, including single-pilot, IFR, Category A takeoff and night-vision-goggles operations.
The certification comes a few months later than expected, delayed by the need to solve an aerodynamic issue in sideways flight. The Helionix avionics suite, developed in-house and featuring a four-axis autopilot, also contributed to the delay.
Sikorsky Aircraft completed the first flight of an optionally piloted Black Hawk demonstrator last month in a joint effort with the U.S. Army, the company said on April 21. The Black Hawk serves as a second testbed (joining an S-76) for Sikorsky’s Matrix research program to develop and field systems for autonomous vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.
The NTSB last week released a preliminary report on the April 9 accident involving an Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter that crashed shortly after takeoff from an Albuquerque, N.M. hospital helipad. The pilot reported he did complete all pre-takeoff hydraulic checks and that after liftoff he commanded a slight left turn. The helicopter, however, kept turning and entered a spin. The pilot said the pedals were jammed or locked in the neutral position.
Engine failure is the initial focus in the crash of a Bell 206B Friday morning, shortly after takeoff from Coffs Harbour, on the east coast of Australia. The helicopter struck the ground with enough force to rip the rear rotor from the aircraft. The pilot and single passenger received only minor injuries. There was no post-crash fire.
Speaking at the “Helicopter Operations” seminar today at ABACE 2014, Bell Helicopter China managing director Chris Jaran said the helicopter fleet in China has grown by an average of 20 percent annually from 2009 through 2014, to 465 aircraft from 227. The Chinese rotorcraft fleet is 35 percent piston-powered and 65 percent turbine, he noted.
As in many parts of the world, the helicopter industry in China continues growing steadily and is not as subject to economic ups and downs that frequently hamper the fixed-wing segment of aviation. According to Chris Jaran, managing director of Bell Helicopter China, who spoke at yesterday’s Helicopter Operations seminar at ABACE 2014, it’s a well-kept secret that the helicopter fleet in China has averaged a 20-percent increase from 2009 through 2014, from 227 to 465 aircraft (of which 35 percent are piston-powered and 65 percent turbine).