The only rotorcraft on display at Jet Expo 2011 was the Bell 429, of which the first example to be delivered to Russia arrived in June. The helicopter came in crates and was assembled at the Moscow aircraft repair plant with help of Russian rotorcraft maker Kazan.
The Eurocopter AS350B3e, the latest version of the venerable Ecureuil/Astar light single helicopter, was certified in June, the company announced last week. A more powerful 950-shp Turbomeca Arriel 2D (in lieu of the 848-shp Arriel 2C1), features a new axial compressor, new blade material and a dual-channel Fadec. It is said to provide better performance for less fuel consumption.
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.