Eurocopter India’s first three orders for 2012 are for corporate-configured helicopters. An AS350B3e AStar/Ecureuil will be delivered this year to G.R. Constructions. This year, too, a six-passenger EC135 and a nine-passenger EC155 will be delivered to two undisclosed customers. The sales were announced at the India Aviation 2012 show in Hyderabad.
Eurocopter is anticipating a ramp-up in the production of the EC225 and the AS350 Ecureuil by 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, at its factory in Marignane, France. For “better reactivity,” it has signed an agreement with Segula Technologies to take over the latter’s “structure assembly” activity in the neighboring city of Aix-en-Provence.
Russian Helicopters is redeveloping the Kazan Ansat light twin with conventional flight controls, as opposed to the fly-by-wire (FBW) system with which it has been flying thus far. Kazan Helicopters has performed the first demonstration flight with a hydro-mechanical flight control system.
The testing program, which involves two prototypes for flight and ground tests, started last year. The manufacturer has filed an application with the Interstate Aviation Committee’s Air Registry for additional type certification, which it expects to achieve in the second half of this year.
Operators flying some 300 helicopters in India say regulatory issues are stifling an industry that has enormous potential for expansion. Suffocating restrictions, say operators, hound them at every step, starting with brutal import taxes.
The first of two multi-role Bell 429 light twins delivered to the Fairfax (Virginia) County Police Department helicopter unit is already logging long hours with demonstrably better performance than the 407 it replaced, according to tactical flight officer (TFO) James Greeves, a 13-year veteran of the unit. “It really has been a game-changer for us,” he said. Compared with the 407, the 429 can insert into tighter landing zones and arrive on scene more quickly. Crews are seeing speeds of 144 to 146 knots despite the added drag of the external searchlight and camera.
Eurocopter has purchased an 80-percent stake in the new Sabadell Helicopters Service Center (SHSC). The OEM cited the move as part of a continuing strategy of industrial expansion in Spain. SHSC will have an initial staff of 35 technicians based at its Sabadell Airport facility near Barcelona to support all civil helicopter fleets.
A low-cost obstacle detection system suitable for civilian helicopter use is under study at Eurocopter. Using automotive radar sensors, the company is confident it can help helicopter pilots in the landing and takeoff phases.
The majority of obstacle warning systems for helicopters are expensive and often bulky, heavy and power-greedy, essentially limiting the market to military operators.
Eurocopter’s three-year effort to revamp its EcoStar was unveiled earlier this year with a strong initial order book for more than 100 helicopters. The company expects certification of the $2.5 million single-engine EC130T2 later this year. “We listened to our customers,” said Janick Blanc, Eurocopter vice president for light helicopter programs.
Apparently, the company got an ear full.
Strong deliveries of the S-92 medium twin will boost civil activity at Sikorsky this year, according to recently released 2011 results and 2012 outlook. President Jeff Pino is expecting S-92 handovers to leap by 42 percent and overall civil deliveries by approximately 30 percent.
This year’s plans call for delivery of approximately 260 civil and military rotorcraft, with civil revenue expected to exceed $1.1 billion. Operating profits are predicted to be in the $50 million to $75 million range, down from $820 million last year.