AgustaWestland’s AW169, introduced last summer at the Farnborough airshow, made its Heli-Expo debut today, and the Finmeccanica company says the program “is progressing as planned.” The new multipurpose twin will meet requirements for Category A, Class 1 operations and IFR single- and dual-pilot operations. New technology is prevalent throughout the AW169, from the rotors to the engines to the transmission, but in particular in the avionics suite. The package introduces a full digital NVG-compatible cockpit with three, eight-in by 10-inch displays and enhanced graphics. Powering the AW169 are two Fadec-controlled Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210 engines. Advanced rotor aerodynamics, new blade design and an improved rotor system combine to produce a very low external noise signature, “well below regulatory limits,” according to the company. The helicopter will be able to carry up to 10 passengers and can be configured for two stretchers in a cabin accessible by two sliding cabin doors. The AW169’s first flight is expected is 2012 and entry into service is anticipated in 2014. AgustaWestland forecasts a potential market for nearly 1,000 aircraft over approximately 20 years.
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Garmin today unveiled the GMA 350 series digital audio panel for helicopters and fixed-wing applications, with two unique new features for aviation: voice-recognition controls and 3D audio. The new GMA 350 series fits in a box that is pin-compatible with Garmin’s GMA 340 series and also audio panels made by other manufacturers. The GMA 350H and 350 are similar, but the helicopter unit includes support for a third comm, NVG-compatible green annunciation and new split-com modes.
Eurocopter’s AS350B3e, which has a Turbomeca Arriel 2D engine with Fadec and an engine-data recorder for condition monitoring, is expected to be certified this summer, with deliveries beginning before year-end. The B3e also comes with an improved interior design, as well as tail-rotor mods for “additional ease of piloting.” The B3e’s engine can be operated at max takeoff power for 30 minutes.
Honeywell Aerospace’s “Turbine-powered Civilian Helicopter Purchase Outlook Report” forecasts that global deliveries of new civilian-use turbine-powered helicopters will lie somewhere between 4,200 and 4,400 units through 2015, representing a 5-percent gain over the delivery tally from 2006 to 2010. The company cited improved economic growth prospects in key markets and new models offering increased customer value as “key variables driving purchase expectations.” It also said the China market could be a “strong contributor to broader demand for rotorcraft.”
Sikorsky is getting closer to the first flight of the Firefly, a modified S-300C light single in which the piston engine has been replaced with an electric motor and batteries. The proof-of-concept rotorcraft is expected to have limited endurance but is seen as a stepping stone toward a commercially viable electric helicopter. The company had hoped to fly the Firefly by the end of 2010, but did not meet that target. Sikorsky is now saying that first flight will take place “as soon as we are ready.”
Thales is adding four new functions to the TopDeck avionics suite it has developed for Sikorsky’s new S-76D. The initial version of the cockpit will complete certification in the next few months, ahead of the helicopter’s anticipated approval by year-end, and additional options should be ready for service-entry next year. The new functionality includes localizer performance with vertical guidance GPS approaches, XM Weather, a flight following system and ADS-B Out.