A shiny red-and-white Eurocopter AS350B2, newly converted to Honeywell LTS-101-700D2 turbine power, dominates Soloy Aviation’s exhibit here at Heli-Expo2011 (Booth No. 1628). Inside is an operating example of a new electronic engine display soon to be added as an option to the already STC’d Soloy conversion kit for replacing the original Turbomeca Arriel B2 with the Honeywell engine.
Turbomeca chairman and CEO Pierre Fabre knows that for his company to grow and prosper, it is not only necessary to sell engines to helicopter manufacturers that deliver all over the world but also to allow engines to be built in countries like China. But it is naïve to think, Fabre said, that there is no risk of losing control of intellectual property when engines are manufactured by non-Turbomeca-owned entities.
Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services-North America (Booth No. 2137), a subsidiary of Vector Aerospace, came into Heli-Expo 2011 on the heels of “another banner year.” The Canadian MRO specialist saw the 2010 opening of new facilities in Huntsville, Ala.; Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and Lanseria, South Africa.
Engine manufacturer Turbomeca is working 50-50 with Avic Engine, its Chinese counterpart, on the WZ16 turboshaft that will power the Avicopter AC352 medium twin, formerly known as the Z-15 (developed jointly with Eurocopter). Avic Engine is in charge of the compressor and accessory gearbox. The France-based company is responsible for the combustor, turbines and control system.
Eurocopter is believed to be working on an improved EC145–possibly to be designated the EC146, if recent trademark filings are any clue–featuring a fenestron shrouded tail rotor and Fadec-controlled engines. Aircraft spotter photographs reveal the light twin is already in flight test. An industry source told AIN that customers have been clamoring for Fadec since the commercial launch of the EC145 program.
The helicopter group of the Sécurité Civile, France’s emergency preparedness organization, has logged 200,000 hours of operation with the Arriel 1E2 turboshafts that power its Eurocopter EC145s. The group has taken delivery of 34 EC145s since 2002.
Among turbofan manufacturers, Williams International remains tops with AIN readers for the support it provides to operators. Rolls-Royce, combined into one listing this year for the first time instead of being separated into R-R and R-R Deutschland, takes second place and, by barely a gnat’s whisker, bumps Pratt & Whitney Canada to third place.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy in late June inaugurated Turbomeca’s new plant (named after company founder Joseph Szydlowski) in Bordes, near Pau in southwest France. The plant, a U100 million ($125 million) investment, includes a factory and design offices. Thanks to simplified production flows, it expects to halve production lead times over the next three years.
Middletown, Del.-based Summit Aviation has launched a 78,000-sq-ft expansion and renovation of its 160,000-sq-ft facility. The project will create additional hangars, workshops, warehouses, a training center and office space.
Yesterday the NTSB released the finding of the cause of the May 24, 2008, Island Express helicopter accident in Two Harbors, Avalon, on Catalina Island, in California. The Eurocopter AS350D collided with terrain while landing after a flight from the Queensway Bay Heliport, Long Beach, Calif.