Archrivals AgustaWestland and Eurocopter will join forces on a major environmental research program that will include integration technology demonstrators (ITDs) for a greener helicopter. The project–part of the larger E1.6 billion ($2.2 billion) Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative–is expected to yield innovations such as smart blades for the main rotor and electric drive for the tail rotor.
A Boeing Vertol BV-107 operated by Columbia Helicopters of Portland, Ore., crashed in August during a maintenance check flight in southern Montana, killing all three men aboard. Dead are pilot Rich Hernandez, 37; copilot Santi Arovitx, 28; and crew chief Kip Krigbaum, 45. The big twin-rotor helo, a civil derivative of the military’s CH-46, went down for as yet unexplained reasons about 9:30 a.m.
As the month of May came to a close, a team of Boeing engineers were putting the finishing touches to a one-of-a-kind flying machine at an outpost of that company’s “Phantom Works” just outside the sun- and sand-blasted southwestern Arizona town of Yuma.
In the arcane world of helicopter rotor aerodynamics, two concepts that show promise for enhancing safety and performance in the world of high-density-altitude heavy lift are under development on opposite sides of the U.S. Briefings on both were presented at the American Helicopter Society’s annual forum last month in Phoenix.
Just a few months after its official introduction at last winter’s HAI Heli-Expo, the Schweizer 300CBi, an enhanced version of Schweizer’s Model 300CB, is on its way to launch customer CSE Aviation, one of the UK’s largest and best known flight schools, located in Oxford, England.
Tail-rotor failure appears to be the culprit in the May 4 crash of a Eurocopter AS 350 news helicopter in New York City. But the NTSB said that tail-rotor control continuity could not be determined because of the extensive damage caused when the helicopter slammed onto a rooftop in Brooklyn, N.Y. The WNBC-TV helicopter, N4NY, crashed into a four-story building before breaking in two and falling onto a two-story building.
It should come as no surprise that citizen groups opposing helicopter operation over Manhattan are using the aftermath of September 11 to lobby lawmakers for further restrictions. Excerpts from a letter recently sent to members of the Helicopter Noise Coalition of New York City (HNCNYC) and New York Sens. Chuck Schumer (D) and Hillary Clinton (D) and Reps.
“The U.S. rotorcraft industry has fallen behind because of lack of funding and interest,” William Retz, rear admiral USN (ret.), told AIN. “We need to get behind the industry and move it forward again.” Retz is the executive director of operations for the proposed Center for Rotorcraft Innovation (CRI).
The second Bell 429 took to the skies on August 31, five months after the first test ship flew last winter. It is one of five that will eventually complete a test program that is expected to amass 1,500 hours in the air before the helicopter’s planned certification and initial customer deliveries next year.
Retrofit technology that could turn the Pentagon’s fleet of Black Hawks and other helicopters into 200-knot, high-altitude speedsters, and later be applied to the civil market, is one step closer to reality.