Russian Helicopters, which is redeveloping the Ansat with conventional (as opposed to the original fly-by-wire) flight controls, expects to achieve Russian certification in the fourth quarter, with serial production to start in January. The next step will be EASA certification, expected next year or in 2014. Russian Helicopters is developing a new fuel system to comply with European requirements.
AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters have signed a “preliminary agreement” to jointly develop a new 2.5-metric-ton class (5,500 pound) single-engine helicopter. The aircraft will be smaller and less expensive than the existing AW119Ke Koala. It will compete with the Eurocopter EC130T2.
During its U.S. demonstration tour, the Eurocopter X3compound helicopter flew at no more than a company-imposed 220 knots, but as soon as it is back in Europe this fall it will fly “significantly faster,” CEO Lutz Bertling hinted during a press briefing in July. Eurocopter expects the X3will eventually break the 250-knot unofficial record the Sikorsky X2 set two years ago.
Bell Helicopter’s Aviation Service maintenance facility in Prague, Czech Republic, has received a Part 145 maintenance organization approval certificate from the Ukraine State Aviation Administration.
“The addition of a Ukrainian service offering enhances our ability to take care of our customers in Eastern Europe. Our mission is to make service expedient and efficient for them so their aircraft are ready to go when duty calls,” said Eric Cardinali, Bell Helicopter’s executive vice president of customer support and services.
The U.S. Marine Corps has extended the deployment of two K-Max unmanned helicopters used for cargo resupply missions in Afghanistan by six months, through March next year. The extension, announced on July 31, is the second this year and includes an option to extend the deployment through September next year.
Offshore oil and gas helicopter service provider Bristow has secured new contracts for 20 large aircraft that it expects will generate more than $2 billion in revenue. The deals are a combination of new contracts and extensions of current ones in Australia, Brazil and Europe for Sikorsky S-92s and Eurocopter EC225s.
Chinese domestic production of civil helicopters is set to grow, but not as quickly as the country’s authorities predict, according to a local market analyst. Matthieu Devoisselle, co-founder of Avia-Tek, a Shanghai-based aerospace consultancy firm specializing in emerging countries, regards government forecasts as unrealistic. But Chinese manufacturer Avicopter does have reason to be optimistic, he adds.
Russian Helicopters unveiled a full-size mockup of the reworked Kamov Ka-62 medium twin at the HeliRussia 2012 show in Moscow in May.
After nearly two months of record forest fires from Michigan to California, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) added four more leased heavy helicopters to its firefighting fleet in late June. The additions include two Sikorsky S-61s from Siller Helicopters, an Erickson S-64 Air-Crane and an S-70 from Firehawk Helicopters. A spokesman for Erickson said that last year the company had six helicopters flying USFS contracts; this year that number is eight. The USFS said the helicopters will be used for large-fire support and in the initial assault both to drop retardant and support ground crews.
Eurocopter’s subsidiary in the Southern Cone has formed a partnership with Servicios Aéreos de Los Andes and opened its first certified service center in Peru. The new center, based in the city of Ayacucho, will offer Eurocopter AS350B3 customers a maintenance center certified at the operational and intermediate (O&I) level.
The center will carry out inspections up to 600 flying hours and will replace small and large components, including gearboxes, blade and hub units, and electrical and avionics systems.