HAI Convention News

Dart aims for bull’s-eye with helo accessories

 - February 24, 2008, 7:29 AM

Accessories make an outfit. They also make a helicopter, or at least they make it better. That’s the theory with which Jeff Shapiro launched Dart Helicopter Services (Booth No. 2263) in 2005, and it has apparently been a successful one.

Last year the company realized a 300-percent increase in revenue over the year before, logged 40 new supplementary type certificates (STCs) and filed for three patents. And with the helicopter industry enjoying a stellar period in used aircraft sales, this year promises to be equally busy, according to Shapiro, president and CEO of the Piney Flats, Tenn.-based company.

On display at Heli-Expo is Dart’s new Eurocopter AS 350 air conditioner, a 50-pound unit that weighs 58 pounds less than the original. The company expects to receive an STC this summer.

Among Dart’s recent accessory certifications are:

• EASA approval of Apical pop-out emergency float systems for the Robinson R44 and R44 II.

• EASA OK of Bearpaws for the AS 350, AS 355 and EC 130.

• FAA approval for cargo cabin floor protectors for Bell models 205, 210, 212 and 412.

• Transport Canada and FAA approval of low landing gear crosstubes for Bell’s line of medium helicopters.

Of some 1,500 items in the company’s new 374-page catalog (also available on CD and at Dart’s Web site), Shapiro said the most popular are an I-beam insert to strengthen helicopter skid tubes and exterior-mounted life raft containers that are more easily accessed and deployed than those mounted in the helicopter interior.

Dart last year expanded the number of companies for which it acts as a distributor, with the latest being modification specialists Heli-Lynx of Ontario and United Rotorcraft Solutions of Decatur, Texas. In addition, the company also expanded through acquisition last year, bringing on board systems integrator Geneva Aviation of Seattle and emergency flotation gear provider Apical Industries of Oceanside, Calif.

Dart, said Shapiro, is “listening to operators and maintenance directors talk about what’s wrong, and then figuring out what we can do to fix it.”

What’s next for Dart? “We’re looking at the Robinson helicopter line,” said Shapiro. “There’s a lot of potential there.”