“You want to do full-motion?” asks American Eurocopter simulator instructor Eric King. “We have this bag right here.” King points to a jumbo sick sack between the two pilot positions in the $6 million Eurocopter AS350B2 and AS350B3 Level B simulator at the company’s Grand Prairie, Texas campus. For a fleeting moment, I focus on the pair of sliders I had for lunch at the nearby Krystal. That was probably not the best choice. However, today motion sickness will be the least of my problems.
The French helicopter lobbying association, Union Française de l’Hélicoptère (UFH), is voicing strong and growing concern that ever-stricter operational rules are preventing operators from running a sound business and have already claimed victims among the smallest ones. About 600 commercial and private helicopters currently fly in France, according to the association.
Eurocopter is claiming a 64-percent share of the small Indian civil helicopter market. Last year the manufacturer delivered nine new turbine helicopters out of a total of 14 registered in the country. Five were twins, while the remaining four were single-engine AS350B3s. The AS350 Ecureuil/AStar series had a 70- to 80-percent market share in the single-engine sector over the last two years in India, Eurocopter said.
The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Eurocopter AS350 helicopters. Prompted by an in-flight fire caused by ignition of hydraulic fluid leaking from a damaged forward (pitch) servo-control hydraulic hose, the proposed AD is intended to prevent the forward servo-control hydraulic hoses from becoming damaged and leaking hydraulic fluid that could ignite in flight, which can result in loss of main rotor control, power loss, structural damage, propagation of fire and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.
Atlanta-based Precision Aviation Group (PAG) has launched a rotorcraft services division at subsidiary Gardner Aviation Services. It will provide helicopter-specific avionics upgrades/installs, airframe maintenance and MRO services at Gardner Aviation Services 35,000-sq-ft facility on Atlanta Regional Airport in Peachtree City, Ga.
FOCUS on…LAW ENFORCEMENT This year at Heli-Expo there were plenty of examples of helicopters dressed up with law enforcement credentials of every flavor, but it took a keen eye to spot what was new equipment on these hard-working machines. For 2012, companies brought avionics, airborne computer location equipment, air-to-ground microwave receivers and sophisticated, high-power searchlights.
Lake Charles, La.-based Era Helicopters signed an order for seven Eurocopter EC135s today at Heli-Expo. With this purchase, Era’s fleet will include 17 EC135s. Era has one of the largest fleets of Eurocopter helicopters, ranging from the AS350 to the EC225. It is also the largest user of the EC135 in the Gulf of Mexico, where it uses the light twin for offshore oil missions.
Frasca International (Booth R71) has announced that the Korea Forest Service has “completed factory acceptance” of its Eurocopter AS350 B2 Ecureuil/AStar helicopter simulator, a U.S. FAA Level-7 flight training device.
The Urbana, Illinois-based training equipment manufacturer has supplied a 120- by 80-deg spherical visual display. The customized database includes eight scenarios covering forestry flying work and night-vision-goggle capability. A “mirror view” channel provides visual scenes in the mirror including water dump from the belly tank and sling bucket operations.
FOCUS on…AUTOROTATION TRAINING “Infrequent autorotation training is dangerous,” said Chad Oakley, chief pilot at the Bell Academy, yesterday at a Heli-Expo training session called, “Autorotations, Reality Exposed.” Other participants at the one-hour session–pilots, instructors, and representatives from the FAA, NTSB, OEMs, and several fleet operators–agreed.
Simplex Aerospace recently received FAA STC approval for its third-generation, high-pressure Aerial Cleaning System (ACS), used in the cleaning of power-line insulators and windmill blades. ACS, which consists of a belly water tank and a side-mounted nozzle boom, is certified for use on Eurocopter AS350 and AS355 helicopters. (A 120-gallon, second-generation power-wash system is also certified for the Bell 407.)