While U.S. helicopter tourism operators have been under continuing pressure from regulators and environmental groups over the past few years, their colleagues in less restrictive legislative environments have continued to make a decent living. Charter companies in South Africa have been doing particularly well at offering “flightseeing” packages, even though the gloss of a weak U.S. dollar has long since faded.
Exhibitors at January’s Iran Airshow 2005 indicated that the market for civilian helicopters in the Islamic Republic is growing. Local and foreign manufacturers and lessor companies reported a steady growth of the helicopter market.
Twenty-nine-year-old Chana Daskal, the sole survivor of an Aug. 10, 2001 Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters crash, will receive $38 million under a settlement. Besides losing her husband in the accident, Daskal suffered severe burns and had both legs amputated.
A pilot has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges, following an accident in Hawaii last September that killed three passengers. Glen Lampton was flying a Heli USA AStar that crashed into the sea near Kauai’s Ke’e Beach. Two other passengers and Lampton survived uninjured. Lampton, who continues to work for Heli USA in a nonflying position, is also accused of reckless endangerment, providing a false statement and tampering with evidence.
Iranian customers have recently placed orders for 15 locally built Shahed-278 light helicopters, but suppliers from around the world see Iran as a market ripe for development. The interest reflects the growing demand for modern rotorcraft to support Iran’s flourishing oil, shipping and construction business industries, as well as for medevac and VIP travel.
Maverick Helicopters of Las Vegas, Nevada, has placed an order for nine Eurocopter EC 130 B4 helicopters. The air-tour and charter operator already has 12 EC 130 B4s and six AS 350 B2 Ecureuils. When it takes delivery of the newly ordered nine, it will become the largest operator of the EC 130 in the world.
Carlsbad, Calif.-based Jet Source (Booth No. 1153) recently completed the first of four Eurocopter AS 350B3s for the San Diego Police Department. The company, which specializes in special-mission aircraft completions for law enforcement, designed and built a custom panel for the AStars. The helicopters are night-vision-goggle capable and have been fitted with a thermal imaging system, an Avalex moving map and a custom radio command suite.
Eurocopter is concerned that some pilots could confuse different versions of the AS 350B3 Ecureuil single-turbine helicopter that feature different kinds of engine control. In a mixed-fleet operation, a pilot could use an incorrect procedure after failure of the engine control. Older variants of the twist grip power control present greater risk of error, the manufacturer’s customer support department notes.
Eurocopter test pilot Didier Delsalle (center) and president and CEO Fabrice Brégier (right) yesterday accepted the world record verification from Fédération Aéronautique Internationale representative Jacques Escaffe (left) for landing the first helicopter on top of Mount Everest (elevation 29,035 feet). The feat was accomplished by Delsalle last May in a Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil/AStar.
Eurocopter AS 350BA, Lihue, Hawaii, Sept. 24, 2005–The AS 350 air taxi crashed in the Pacific Ocean off Kee Beach near Lihue, Kauai, under unknown circumstances. Three passengers were killed, and three people, including the pilot, were injured. The pilot’s last clearance was to fly the harbor departure. The helicopter was registered to Jan Leasing of Las Vegas