MD Helicopters MD 900, Mesa, Ariz., Sept. 8, 2004–The NTSB attributes the accident during the test flight to the fracture of a tension-torsion strap in the fan because of progressive fiber failure of the composite material from compression and/or transverse shear stresses with repeated manipulation of the antitorque control pedals without the fan operating at full rpm.
Eurocopter EC 135P1, Washington, D.C., May 30, 2006–The MedStar Eurocopter made two approaches to the upper landing pad at the Washington Hospital Center and was maneuvering for an approach to the lower landing pad when it crashed on the grounds of the U.S. Armed Forces Retirement Home. The pilot had called “Mayday.” The pilot, a paramedic and a flight nurse were injured.
The upsurge in oil and gas activity is putting increasing strain on helicopter operators’ ability to serve their offshore customers, and highlighting a potential shortage of aircraft.
If the helicopter industry has been going nowhere fast in recent years, the direction now appears to be up, and shops doing special-mission and corporate helicopter interiors are benefiting.
American Helicopter Society (AHS) president Rhett Flater warns that the rotorcraft industry risks losing one of three university-based Rotorcraft Centers of Excellence, as the result of the U.S. Army’s withdrawing its funding.
PZL Swidnik in Poland has handed over its 500th airframe–an AW139–to AgustaWestland, marking 10 years of cooperation between the two companies.
The Polish company is a risk-sharing partner on the medium-twin helicopter, which it has been building since 2001. Since then, production numbers have increased, with more than 100 airframes delivered last year.
The Latvian Border Guard has ordered two Agusta A109 Powers to increase its border-patrol capabilities before joining the European Union’s Schengen (open border) program. The new machines supplement a single Agusta Bell 206B that has been in service since the Baltic State’s Guard air unit was formed in 2002. Ten new pilots, who will start training in Italy next winter, will double the unit’s strength.
Sikorsky Aircraft this spring announced it has signed position assignment agreements with Premier Aviation Services of Ireland for two executive S-76Ds. This, said the helicopter OEM, represents the first European customer for the S-76D. Premier Aviation plans to operate the two aircraft out of Weston Airport, near Dublin.
Maverick Helicopter Tours, which specializes in aerial tours of Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, has bought 14 more Eurocopter EC 130 turbine helicopters. The new aircraft will bring Maverick’s EC 130 fleet to 35. Maverick cited as one of the helicopter’s attractive features the safety and relative quietness of the fenestron tail rotor.
Sikorsky and China Aviation Industry Corp. II (AVIC II) have agreed to work together to jointly develop andbuild civil helicopters. The companies will also explore establishing AVIC II subsidiary Changhe Aircraft Industry as a second production source of S-76 fuselages (in addition to Aero Vodochody in the Czech Republic). Sikorsky is already in partnership with an AVIC II subsidiary that manufactures the S-92A tail pylon.