On Tuesday, the NTSB faulted maintenance performance and procedures at Las Vegas, Nev.-based air-tour operator Sundance Helicopters as the probable cause of the Dec. 7, 2011 crash of an AS350B2 that killed the pilot and four passengers near the Hoover Dam in Nevada. The 1988 helicopter was originally manufactured as an AS350B and had accumulated 25,216 hours since new.
Eurocopter’s ubiquitous light single, the AS350B3e Ecureuil/AStar, is subject to airspeed limits and repetitive inspections as a result of an early-October emergency service bulletin and accompanying airworthiness directive (AD). The helicopter is now limited to 100 knots airspeed at sea level to reduce dynamic loads on the tail rotor. In addition, repetitive inspections must be conducted, with maximum intervals of three flight hours, on the laminated half-bearings.
Early in December, Eurocopter and the EASA published an additional emergency service bulletin and accompanying emergency AD. All AS350/AS355 Ecureuil (AStar and TwinStar) models are affected. Although no evidence of laminated half-bearing deterioration has been found on pre-B3e models, inspections are mandated. However, as the inspection interval is 10 hours, the AD will probably cause less inconvenience than those affecting the B3e.
Sion, Switzerland-based operator Air-Glaciers is updating its fleet of light singles and twins in anticipation of eventually phasing out its Aerospatiale SA316 Alouette IIIs.
FlightSafety International is moving to expand and upgrade its helicopter training portfolio substantially, according to David Davenport, vice president of operations.
“Helicopter training has been a high-growth business for FlightSafety for many years. We have always been the factory-authorized training provider for Bell and Sikorsky. We’ve also tried to branch out into highly successful helicopters such as the [Eurocopter] EC135 and [AgustaWestland] AW139,” Davenport said.
American Eurocopter (Booth No. 2546) has arrived at NBAA’12 with a pocketful of recently announced orders and deliveries.
Russian operator UTAir has secured a seven-year loan from British bank HSBC, on a security of French insurance agency Coface. It has thus become “the first Russian airline receiving insurance wrap from an international export agency for purchasing helicopters,” claims UTAir. The contract is for 19 Eurocopter AS350/AS355 Ecureuil/AStar singles.
Having acquired a Eurocopter full EC135 flight simulator from Thales, French helicopter operator SAF Hélicoptères inaugurated its “training academy” on June 15, bringing access to flight simulators to pilots of light helicopters. The €5 million ($6.3 million) training center, located near Albertville in the French Alps, will be available to pilots from other operators next year. SAF anticipates running the simulator 2,000 hours annually.
Riding a Brazilian economy that continues to grow, fractional ownership and aircraft management company Avantto is finding a ready market and looks forward to more of the same.
In less than two years, with the backing of Brazilian asset management and private equity firm Rio Bravo, Avantto has signed more than 350 customers and assembled a fleet of 24 jets and 23 helicopters.
According to founder and president Rogèrio Andrade, Avantto’s fractional business model fits the needs of the country’s expanding economy and growing dependence on aviation.
The FAA issued an AD–Docket FAA-2012-0222– on September 6 for some versions of the Eurocopter AS350. The directive, which is effective from October 11 this year, was issued after an in-flight fire caused by the ignition of hydraulic fluid leaking from a damaged forward servo-control hydraulic hose. The AD is intended to prevent the forward servo-control hydraulic hoses from becoming damaged and leaking hydraulic fluid that could ignite in flight.