American Eurocopter has developed a course designed to deal with inadvertent flight into IMC to be taught in its AS350 Level B flight and mission training simulator based at Grand Prairie, Texas. The NTSB recently recommended that the Airborne Law Enforcement Association incorporate inadvertent IMC recovery training into its accreditation standards. The course will be non-airframe specific.
Professional Aviation Associates, which claims to be the largest independent parts and rotable supplier for the Beech King Air and Beech 1900, has plans to enter the helicopter market, “particularly [for] the AS350, in a big way,” according to president Glenn MacDonald.
Russia-based operator UTair has received a certificate of conformity to Eurocopter training standards, thus becoming the first Eurocopter training center without the manufacturer being a shareholder in the company. UTair’s Tyumen center is now approved for type-rating training of pilots and mechanics on the AS350 and AS355, in Russian, under Eurocopter programs.
The FAA awarded an STC to Cobham for installation of its HeliSAS autopilot and stability augmentation system on Eurocopter’s AS350 and EC130. HeliSAS is designed for use in all phases of flight and automatically returns the helicopter to a near-level attitude when the pilot releases the controls. The system costs and weighs much less than traditional large military and commercial helicopter autopilot systems, according to Cobham.
Turbomeca has received EASA certification for its 950-shp Arriel 2D turboshaft, destined to power the Eurocopter AS350B3e Squirrel. The Arriel 2D is said to provide better performance (its predecessor stood at 848 shp) for lower fuel consumption. The initial 4,000-hour TBO is expected to increase to 6,000 hours.
A Eurocopter AS350 B3 performed one of the highest-altitude rescues on record in May when it rescued an injured climber off Alaska’s Mount McKinley just below the summit at 19,833 feet. Temsco was operating the helicopter under an exclusive-use contract for the National Park Service in the Denali National Park and Preserve. The climber had broken a leg in a fall. Rescue conditions were less than ideal, with gusty wind and extreme cold.
Helicopter engine manufacturer Turbomeca (Hall 2A A232) is busy developing improved models for new Eurocopter variants in the light-single and medium-twin helicopter categories, as well as an engine family that will power China’s and Russia’s forays in medium twins.
Feedback from exhibitors at this year’s Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo show–the 63rd annual event–was notably positive, a clear indication that the record attendee and exhibitor numbers signal a strong performance by the rotorcraft industry during the past year. Heli-Expo 2011 attendance reached more than 20,000, according to HAI, and exhibitors totaled 625, up from 15,243 attendees and 596 exhibitors last year.
Industry analysts have been declaring China the “next big market” every year since the discussion came around to business aviation in China. Now, as an economic recovery appears to have begun, it seems China is finally fulfilling its promise, and based on activity at Heli-Expo 2011 in March, the helicopter industry is poised to take advantage of demand.