Soloy Aviation Solutions (Booth No. N3230) announced here at Heli-Expo that its efforts to sell Honeywell engine conversion kits for Chinese-registered Eurocopter AS350B2s have gotten the green light from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). CAAC issued a validation STC for the modification approving the replacement of the helicopter’s standard Turbomeca engine with the Honeywell LTS101-700D-2. The approval will allow Olympia, Wash.-based Soloy to proceed with negotiations to sell multiple conversion kits to owners of any Chinese-registered AS350B2.
Night vision goggle (NVG) technology provider Rebtech, of Bedford Texas, announced the initial night-vision compatible conversion of an AS350B3 owned and operated by rotor training provider HeliStream. Rebtech (Booth No. N4724) provided both the supplemental type certified equipment and integration support for the conversion. Rebtech also modified the aircraft’s external lighting. The NVG-compatible lighting inside and outside the helicopter will allow HeliStream to provide specialized NVG training for both initial pilot transition and recurrent training.
Law enforcement helicopters are well represented at Heli-Expo ‘13, and American Eurocopter machines, with several different helicopter models well suited to EMS operations (AS350 B2/B3 and EC130T2, EC135, EC145 and AS332 Super Puma) are easy to spot in the exhibit hall.
Last December Air Methods announced orders for 42 new Eurocopter and Bell helicopters, issued a special cash dividend and announced a three-for-one stock split. It also acquired the assets of Las Vegas air-tour operator Sundance Helicopters, including its fleet of 22 Eurocopter AS350s and EC130s.
The EASA has approved Eurocopter’s fix for the tail-rotor problems that have affected the AS350B3e AStar/Ecureuil light single helicopter. Operators will have to perform the modification–essentially removing an additional chin weight and installing a load compensator–within five months, per a recently issued AD. It will “restore the tail rotor dynamic load level,” down to the level found on previous models, such as the B3.
The probable cause of the December 2011 crash of an AS350B2 operated by Las Vegas, Nev.-based Sundance Helicopters near the Hoover Dam was the result of faulty maintenance, according to the NTSB. The helicopter had been returned to service earlier on the day of the crash following major maintenance that included an engine change and replacement of main- and tail-rotor actuators.
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.