Following last year’s NTSB recommendation that all turbine-powered helicopters be equipped with terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS), Air Logistics has decided to upgrade its newer medium and heavy twin-engine helicopters with Honeywell enhanced ground proximity warning systems (EGPWS).
The company currently operates 12 S-76C+s. While several of the newer airframes came pre-wired to accept EGPWS, Patrick Graves, Air Logistics’ director of Gulf of Mexico operations, said he expects the others to require up to four days of downtime each for rewiring and installation of the components.
The company will also have the systems installed on its more than 20 new S-76 models currently on order. “It’s a commitment that Air Logistics is making to the safety of our passengers, our flight crews, our customers, by adding a not-inexpensive unit to our helicopters,” said Graves. Current estimates for the modifications would place the price tag at around $100,000 per helicopter, he said. He added that there are no plans to upgrade the company’s 11 S-76As, which are being gradually phased out of service.
Air Logistics is one of the first helicopter fleet operators to add TAWS. Many other companies have balked at the technology as being too expensive and not very well suited to the rotorcraft environment. The helicopter version of Honeywell’s EGPWS uses computing algorithms that are slightly different from those of systems intended for airplanes, and also includes an audio inhibit switch that lets the pilot silence nuisance alerts during flight near terrain that does not pose an imminent danger.