MD Helicopters showed off its prototype MD540A armed scout helicopter last week at the Sofex show in Jordan, marking the type’s first appearance outside the U.S. The choice of venue was made to highlight the type’s credentials in an area where its hot-and-high performance is of considerable interest, at a show where its special-forces support capability is highly relevant, and in a country that has a requirement for a new armed helicopter.
MD Helicopters MD 500
Composite rotor blade manufacturer Van Horn Aviation (VHA; Booth No. 7129) of Tempe, Ariz. is showcasing the company’s Bell 206 main rotor blade development project. This program is aimed at creating a replacement for the metal blades in legacy 206 models, starting with the 206B3 JetRanger. The JetRanger that will serve as the program’s test bed is on display at the company’s booth. “Our goal is to have the 206B3 blade certified by the end of this year,” VHA president James Van Horn told AIN.
New models, new orders and of course, deliveries are what the excitement is all about at Heli-Expo 2014. MD Helicopters (Booth No. 6922) could celebrate a little of all that this week. Company CEO Lynn Tilton unveiled not just the existence of its new MD 530G armed aerial scout helicopter, but that it is flying and on the fast track to completion in the second quarter, with deliveries slated for the third quarter. The company is now taking orders for the $4- $5 million single-engine helicopter.
Shandong Qi Xiang General Aviation and MD Helicopters’ Chinese distributor, Avion Pacific, reached an agreement for delivery of an MD500E light turbine single in the second quarter. The sale to Qi Xiang GA is the market debut in China for the MD500 series, which includes the 500E, 520N and 530F. The transaction marks the first reported sale in China’s general aviation industry so far this year. Avion is confident that the MD500 series will “rapidly gain market share with its outstanding performance and top-notch customer service.”
For Phoenix Heliparts, this year’s Heli-Expo show resulted in the sale of two helicopters, thanks to the display of the rebuilt MD500 flown for the television show Magnum, P.I. Based in Mesa, Ariz., Phoenix Heliparts celebrated its 10th anniversary at the show, where on March 5, Magnum, P.I. stars Larry Manetti and Roger Mosley signed “The Chopper.” On June 3, The Chopper receives its official Hawaiian blessing as it enters service in the Paradise Helicopters fleet at the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu.
As the first new model introduced since Lynn Tilton’s Patriarch Partners bought MD Helicopters (MDHI) in 2005–and rescued the manufacturer from the brink of collapse–the MD 540F armed scout helicopter not only marks the continued evolution of a storied platform that traces its lineage back to the Hughes 500D. It also symbolizes renewed hope for the company’s future.
From a husband-and-wife operation launched 10 years ago in the family garage in Mesa, Ariz., Phoenix Heliparts has grown into major player in the art of restoring older helicopters to a new and useful life.
The company’s main facility in Mesa, about 14 miles north of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, now totals about 45,000 sq ft and there is an additional 25,000 sq ft and a designated landing area at the airport for flight testing.
A new airworthiness directive for the MD Helicopters MD500N, MD600N and MD900 requires determining the cure date for each Notar fan blade tension-torsion strap (T-T strap). The purpose is to establish a calendar-time retirement life, mark each T-T strap with the expiration date, create a component record card and revise the airworthiness limitations section of the maintenance manual.
The field of companies offering armed scout helicopters to the U.S. Army and other militaries has grown with the addition of MD Helicopters, which is proposing the MD 540F, an upgrade of its MD 530F light helicopter, equipped with a weapons management system from Israel’s Elbit Systems. The offering is based on the same airframe MD Helicopters supplies to Boeing for the AH-6i, which is also a competitor for the Army’s armed aerial scout (AAS) program.
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