HAI Convention News

BLR books strong FastFin sales

 - March 6, 2013, 12:10 PM
David Marone, BLR v-p of marketing

BLR Aerospace (Booth No. N3724) is marking the delivery of its 600th FastFin tail rotor enhancement and stability system for medium models of Bell helicopters including the 212, UH-1H, UH-1N, Huey II and 412.

Dave Marone, BLR vice president of sales and marketing, said most sales to date have been to international military and law enforcement customers in Colombia, Peru, Pakistan, the Philippines, Austria, Jordan, Turkey and Canada. The system has also been purchased by several government entities in the U.S. When FastFin is installed, customers realize a gain of between 10 to 90 percent in useful load, depending on aircraft model and local density altitude. Marone estimates the total universe of medium Bell twins that could benefit from FastFin installation at 5,500. The 600 sold to date were in the last two years, and BLR sold 68 systems during the first two months of this year.

The FastFin system features dual tailboom strakes and a reshaped vertical fin. They work in concert to reshape the airflow around the tailboom, thereby improving tail rotor authority and wind azimuth tolerance and increasing overall aircraft stability, reducing operating costs and cycle fatigue in structures and reducing demands on tail rotor operating components.

Here at Heli-Expo, BLR is launching a Web-based tool to help operators calculate their return on investment (ROI) with the FastFin system. The tool will go live later this month. “We took the weight, altitude and temperature [WAT] charts and used that as a basis to understand the true useful load that the FastFin provides. We also use the power deltas between baseline and modified helicopters to understand what type of fuel savings you can establish in hover,” said Marone. “There are three major components of the operational savings you can achieve with FastFin: you save fuel, carry more useful load–and that increases the revenue you can charge and reduces the number of flight hours needed to get the mission done–and it increases the resale value of the aircraft.” The FastFin system costs approximately $104,000 to purchase and install on the Bell 412. Average installation time is three days.

Marone provided an ROI example of an operator that installed the system and flies from an 8,000-foot msl airfield at an average temperature of 20 to 30 degrees C and flies 350 hours per year with maximum loads 75 percent of the time. The operator in this case study saves $228,000 per year.

BLR is developing the FastFin system for the Bell 206L series and estimates it will allow the helicopter to boost useful load by 280 pounds. “We’re test-flying the aircraft at Leadville, Colo. [field elevation 9,927 feet] and we are seeing those numbers right now,” Marone said. The company also is working on several projects for the U.S. military and other civil helicopters. Marone said he expected to make announcement on some of the projects next year.

Bell is including the FastFin system as standard factory equipment on its new 412EPI.