Three contenders for the U.S. Army’s as-yet-undefined armed aerial scout (AAS) requirement–Bell Helicopter, Boeing and EADS North America–have just completed a series of flight demonstrations for Army evaluators who are studying alternatives to the aging OH-58D Kiowa Warrior for manned reconnaissance. They reported the results at the Association of the U.S.
The FAA granted type certification last Friday for the Sikorsky S-76D medium-twin helicopter, a protracted program that was launched in 2006. Deliveries, which were originally slated to start in late 2010, are now planned to begin later this quarter, as the backlog is “approaching half a billion dollars.”
According to Sikorsky Global Helicopters vice president Ed Beyer, “The S-76D will offer a higher cruise speed than its predecessors, coupled with more efficient fuel burn, making the S-76 more productive than ever.” Deliveries of the original S-76 began in 1979.
The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive for the Eurocopter EC155B, EC155B1, SA365N1, AS365N2 and AS365N3 requiring visual inspection of the tail-rotor hub for a crack and removal if one is found. The AD is prompted by reports of cracks on two tail-rotor hubs. These actions are intended to prevent the tail rotor from jamming, which could lead to reduced control or loss of control of the helicopter.
The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive for all Eurocopter SA365N, SA365N1, SA366G1, AS365N2, AS365N3, EC155B and EC155B1s. The AD was prompted by the discovery of a cracked main rotor mast nut. This condition, if not corrected, could lead to complete failure of the mast nut, resulting in failure of the rotor mast and loss of control of the helicopter.
Russian Helicopters has received an order for 18 Ka-226TG light twins from NefteGazAeroCosmos, a “research and production center” linked to Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom. Six helicopters are scheduled for delivery next year and the remaining dozen in 2014.
Russian Helicopters, the company that parents Russia’s two helicopter design bureaus and five helicopter-manufacturing plants, is moving forward with a new-generation helicopter that is intended to replace the hugely successful Mil Mi-8/17 series. The new project, dubbed Rachel (Russian advanced commercial helicopter), clearly has many military applications.
India may abandon plans to procure 197 light utility helicopter (LUHs) from abroad for the Indian air force (64) and army (133). Such a decision would favor government-owned defense manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), which is developing its own LUH design based on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). The government was already planning to order an additional 187 light utility helicopters to be produced under license by HAL. It is not clear what the time frame for delivery would be, as HAL would need to expand its current production facility, requiring government approval.
Kim Smith, representing the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST), said the group, “wants to reduce helicopter accidents 80 percent by 2016.” IHST released a sub-committee report last week, calling on the entire helicopter industry for help in achieving this goal. After analyzing 523 accidents that occurred in 2000, 2001 and 2006, IHST found that single-engine turbine helicopters accounted for half the accidents analyzed, while multi-engine turbines represented another 10 percent. The remainder were piston-powered rotorcraft.
An Oregon jury has awarded William Coultas, his wife and the widow of pilot Roark Schwanenberg $69.7 million in a damages suit brought in the 2008 “Iron 44” crash of a Carson Helicopters Sikorsky S-61N. The verdict puts General Electric alone on the hook; other parties settled out of court before the trial. The helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from a helispot while conducting firefighting operations in Northern California. Schwanenberg and eight others aboard the helicopter died.
Composite Technology, a Sikorsky Aerospace Services company based at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, has opened a $15 million structure to dynamically balance helicopter main rotor blades. It can test main rotor blades that rotate either clockwise or counterclockwise, and its two 3,000-shp, variable-frequency drive motors make it suitable for light to heavy helicopters. A test involves three blades: a precision-balanced master blade and two test blades. One blade can weigh up to 500 pounds.