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.
Under the codename X6, Eurocopter is reported to be about to launch a new helicopter line that will supersede the AS332/EC225 Super Puma medium-twin series, according to French financial publication Sud Infos. The Marignane, France-based manufacturer reportedly aims to have the new helicopter in service by 2020. The first AS332 Super Puma was delivered in 1981.
A senior AgustaWestland executive told AIN late last week that the company was giving serious consideration to building production models of the AW609 civil tiltrotor in the U.S., possibly in Texas. Robert LaBelle, managing director of the AgustaWestland Tilt-Rotor Co., said the aircraft initially would be built partially in Italy and the U.S., but that the ultimate decision on where to conduct final assembly would be “driven by the customer base” and that “35 percent of that is predicted to be in the United States.”
A study commissioned by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) recommends the resumption of night flights to offshore oil and gas platforms in the region and lays out a plan that incorporates upgraded and specific safety measures.
The U.S. Navy released a draft request for proposals (RFP) for the long-delayed VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program on November 23. The draft RFP revives an acquisition program that was cancelled more than three years ago. The formal RFP is expected to follow early next year.