HAI Convention News

MD Helicopters shows off slew of modifications

 - March 6, 2011, 7:00 AM

MD Helicopters (MDH) of Mesa, Ariz., has arrived at Heli-Expo with three display aircraft (an MD500E, MD530F and MD902 Explorer) and a handful of product development announcements. Information on 2010 sales figures and 2011 orders will likely be divulged by CEO Lynn Tilton at the company’s press conference scheduled for 4 p.m. today, but there is plenty to see and talk about beforehand.

MDH has unveiled a new composite main rotor blade for the MD500F, co-developed with Van Horn Aviation of Tempe, Ariz. (Booth  No. 1521). The blade is projected to increase internal gross weight from 3,100 pounds to at least 3,350 pounds, lower operating costs, reduce acoustical noise signature, decrease fuel burn and almost triple the life of the blade from the metal blade currently certified for the aircraft, from 3,430 to 10,000 hours. Flight testing of the new blade is expected to commence this month, and FAA supplemental type certification is anticipated in the fourth quarter of this year. Certification for installation on the MD520N and a shorter version of the blade for the MD500D and MD500E are expected to follow.

The MD530F on display at the company’s booth (No. 1618) is outfitted with a Sagem ICGS glass cockpit from Dallas-based Sagem Avionics (Booth No. 1937). Currently undergoing certification for installation on MD500 series helicopters, the dual Sagem ICDS-8 displays interface with the aircraft systems to provide a centralized display of all flight and engine performance data.

In the MD500 configuration, the displays provide the pilot with primary flight display, a multifunction display for navigation and video information, and engine instrument and crew alerting system information, replacing virtually all the analog instrumentation of the original aircraft. Certification of the system is expected the second quarter of this year.

The MD500E on display is outfitted with Garmin’s G500H dual-screen glass cockpit, which was certified for installation on the MD500E last year. (The G500H is also being demoed at the Garmin International booth (No. 1632).

Both the MD530F and MD902 at the MDH booth are outfitted with LED exterior lighting (dual mode anti-collision lights, position lights, and tail lights) by Emteq. MDH announced at the convention its selection of Emteq to supply LED exterior lighting for MD900, MD500 and MD600 series production helicopters.

The new lights use “chip-on-board” LED technology, allowing low-profile design. The exterior lights will also be available for aftermarket installation and will require little wiring modification for retrofitting. (The lights are also on display at the Emteq booth, No. 1711.) Flight tests on the lights are complete and MDH expects them to be available for new production and aftermarket sales by the second quarter of 2011.

The MD902 on display sports a VIP interior featuring energy attenuating business seats from Fischer+Entwicklungen, a video monitor finished in birds’ eye maple, noise-reducing acoustic insulation, DVD/CD player and wool carpeting.

MDH also announced the sale of an MD530F to Switzerland-based Fuchs Helicopter, which will deliver the aircraft to a corporate customer. The first 530F operated in Switzerland, this model is a variant of the 500E optimized for high-and-hot operations. It has a tail boom eight inches longer than the 500E’s and lengthened tail rotor blades, providing increased thrust and directional control at high altitude.

MDH further announced that an MD Explorer operated by the West Yorkshire Police in England recently became the highest time aircraft in the Explorer fleet, surpassing 13,000 flight hours in just under 10 years of service.