The greater Las Vegas area has the highest and most competitive concentration of helicopter tour operators in the U.S. They have traditionally survived with heavy discounting, under-the-table commissions paid to tour bookers and concierges, low pay, high employee turnover and aging aircraft.
Eurocopter’s new high-compression, diesel engine is expected to bring better environmental performance to turbine-powered helicopters as large as the EC 135.
The goal of the program is to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 percent and NOx emissions by 53 percent. The company announced the program, dubbed “Bluecopter,” at the Paris Air Show in June.
Sikorsky S-76A, Santa Maria, Calif., June 27, 2008–The pilot’s misjudgment of clearance from an object during a hovering turn for landing was the probable cause of the crash of an S-76A operated under Part 135 by Arctic Air Service, the NTSB has determined. Contributing to the accident was an inadequately marked heliport surface and the close proximity of an obstruction to the landing area.
Bell 222, Milliken, Colo., March 13, 2009–Several parts were seen to fall off the helicopter while in flight, landing in the observer’s yard and the neighboring property. The commercial pilot said he was flying in cruise at approximately 1,500 feet when he felt “a bump on the controls,” heard a bang and thought he had hit a bird. The pilot returned to his departure airport 45 miles away.
A Eurocopter EC 145 operated by France’s emergency preparedness organization, Sécurité Civile, crashed on April 25 on the French island of Corsica, killing all five occupants–both flight crewmembers, one doctor, one young mother and the baby she had given birth to in flight. The twin-turbine helicopter was flying above rugged terrain in bad weather.
Eurocopter is working on a compound helicopter with a single main rotor, a fixed wing with two propellers in puller configuration and no tail rotor, probably in response to Sikorsky’s X2 and Bell/Agusta Aerospace’s BA609 Tiltrotor, which are attempts to create a faster rotorcraft. The Marignane, France-based helicopter manufacturer in May last year filed a patent application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The Eurocopter EC 145 is carving a growing niche among EMS helicopter operators for one main reason: cabin space. The EC 145 features 213 cu ft of cabin space and 50.8 sq ft of tracked flat floor space with enough room, in a pinch, for two patient litters and three medical attendants.
Van Horn Associates (Booth No, 2012) said it completed flight testing of a new composite carbon fiber spar and skin tail rotor blade for the Bell 206B earlier this month. The company reports that the new blade increases high-altitude hover performance and decreases required pedal pressure compared to the original equipment blades. Van Horn estimates that fatigue and acoustic testing on the new blade will be completed by early summer.
Bell Helicopter’s Model 429 is nearing the certification home stretch, with FAA approval now planned in the second quarter this year, roughly half a year later than projected at last year’s Heli-Expo. A small number of items, are still to be resolved, according to a spokesman, and Bell’s program office is working with FAA certification authorities to complete the final steps.
MD Helicopters Explorer Models 900 and 902 are the subject of an FAA Emergency Airworthiness Directive (2008-22-53) following several recent reports of loss of yaw control in the no-tail rotor (Notar) helicopters. The latest incidents occurred in October, both apparently caused by the separation of the vertical control rod from the actuator.