Eurocopter anticipates that a solution to the main gearbox problem that has grounded the North Sea fleet of EC225s will be available next month. Offshore operators, especially those in the North Sea, have seen major disruption of their activities, as have the oil and gas companies that depend on helicopter transportation for crew changes on their platforms.
The rotorcraft world is preparing to alight at the Las Vegas Convention Center next week for the Helicopter Association International’s Heli-Expo 2013. The conference opens on Monday with safety seminars and media conferences, while the 1.5-million-sq-ft exhibit space and indoor static display opens at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, following the annual membership meeting and breakfast.
Neelam Mathews and Vladimir Karnozov contributed to this report.
Helicopters were much in the news at the Aero India show this week. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) showed the armed version of its advanced light helicopter (ALH) called “Rudra.” The company’s light combat helicopter (LCH) was also on show, and so was an armed Mil-17V5. The Indian Navy’s new multi-role helicopter (MRH) requirement also attracted attention.
The Indian Navy is set to receive four additional Kamov Ka-28 anti-submarine warfare and five Ka-31 radar picket helicopters when its new Vikramaditya aircraft carrier is delivered, hopefully by the end of 2013.
Several helicopter EMS accidents occurred over the last couple of months in the U.S.
Oregon-based Columbia Helicopters lost one of its Boeing-Vertol 234 tandem-rotor, heavy-lift helicopters–the civil version of the Chinook–in Peru last month. The helicopter (N241CH) crashed on January 7, shortly after takeoff from FAP Captain David Abenzur Rengifo International Airport, Pucallpa, Peru, en route to Tarapoto, Peru. All seven people aboard the aircraft, including five Americans, were killed. The helicopter was contracted to Talisman Energy of Canada and was headed for a drilling site 180 miles away carrying a sling load of drilling equipment.
Bell Helicopter is preparing to start assembling the first prototype of the 525 Relentless super-medium twin later this year at its facility in Amarillo, Texas. Four more prototypes are expected to join the test program before certification in 2015. Bell and its suppliers have begun manufacturing parts for the helicopter, which was announced in February last year and is slated to fly for the first time next year.
Eurocopter is now anticipating that a solution to the main gearbox problem that has grounded the North Sea fleet of EC225s will be available in April. According to Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling, the solution will at least be a “safety barrier.”
Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft signed a teaming agreement to submit a joint proposal for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) technology demonstration (TD), phase one. The effort aims to develop the Army’s next-generation medium helicopter. The two companies said they are prepared to “build and fly one or more” medium-sized demonstrator aircraft in 2017, the program’s first-flight milestone.
In Greek mythology, when Achilles was a baby, it was foretold that he would die young. To improve his chances of immortality, his mother, Thetis, took Achilles to the River Styx, which was supposed to offer powers of invulnerability, and dipped his body into the water. But Thetis held Achilles by the heel… The rest of the myth is well known. If the mother of the helicopter concept ever dipped it into the River Styx, she probably held it by the main gearbox.