HeliExpo06: EXPO News at a glance

 - September 21, 2006, 7:34 AM

New Engine for AStars

Canada’s Heli-Lynx helicopter services delivered two AS 350BA AStars powered by the Honeywell LTS101 turboshaft to customers. Heli-Lynx performed the engine conversion and other enhancements under an STC recently issued by Transport Canada. Both aircraft, one for Abitibi Helicopters based in Calgary, and the other for private owner Lynn Walton of Imlay, Mich., received the LTS101-600A3-A in place of the original Turbomeca Arriel A1A.

The result is an increase in internal weight from 4,600 to 4,960 pounds, external gross weight from 4,960 to 5,200 pounds and better altitude performance. The refurbishment includes all new electrical wiring, relays and components of North American origin, a new exhaust nozzle, digital engine instrumentation, tailboom strake and NVG-compatible luminescent instrument lighting.

Digital Cockpit in S-61

Carson Helicopters and Sagem Avionics are teaming to install and certify a suite of digital avionics for the Sikorsky S-61. The upgrade includes a five-tube array of 10.4-inch flat-panel color displays, new composite main rotor blades, a dual-channel AFCS and, from Sagem, a solid-state air-data, attitude and heading system.

Carson has refurbished about 25 helicopters so far, including eight of its own. The avionics upgrade, with hardware and technical support from Sagem’s Grand Prairie, Texas, office, takes about a year to complete. CEO Frank Carson says it will involve separate STCs for the electronic displays and AFCS.

Fleet Customers for Altair

Altair Avionics has acquired a fleet customer for its IntelliStart+ aircraft data-monitoring system. Air Evac Lifeteam from West Plains, Mo., will install the equipment on its 75 Bell 206s. The system acquires engine and airframe usage data while smoothing the start cycle.

CEO Colin Collins believes the system will enable Air Evac to plan its engine maintenance more efficiently. “We are pleased with the information we are currently gathering. We believe it will be key to lowering operating costs,” the company said.

Evergreen Eyes UAVs

Evergreen Helicopters is preparing to tap into the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market, according to president David Rath. The company has signed a letter of intent with Bell for three Eagle Eye tiltrotor UAVs, with delivery due “after Bell fills its contracts with other customers.

“We’re researching many different UAV airframes,” he said. “We see a huge market all over the world for patrol and surveillance duties. Forest services could use them to search for fires and monitor ones that have started. Electric companies need to inspect power lines and oil companies check pipelines. We think a lot of our customers are potential UAV users.”

Honeywell Selected To Supply Bell 429 Avionics

For its 429 light twin Bell has selected Honeywell avionics, including the new solid-state KSG-7200 air-data attitude heading reference system (ADAHRS). Derived from air transport and business jet technology, the system replaces spinning gyros and accelerometers with miniaturized electromechanical sensors. According to Honeywell, this offers better accuracy and stability without the need for GPS updating.

The KSG-7200 is a dual-channel system combining attitude and heading with altitude, altitude rate, airspeed and outside air temperature in a single box. Solid-state pressure transducers serve the air-data functions. With all components working together, each channel’s central-processing unit and sensors collect, share and compare information. Isolated low-speed transmitters continuously communicate AHRS data to ensure high sensor accuracy. This architecture also enables the ADAHRS to reinitialize in flight.

The Bell order is the first helicopter contract award for ADAHRS. The KSG-7200 will be standard, while its ADF, radar altimeter, weather radar and EGPWS will be options.

Another IBF for Bell 206

Aerospace Filtration Systems has received STC approval for an inlet barrier filter for the Bell 206B. The system has flat filter assemblies and an integral bypass design and can be replaced via an access door in 15 minutes. All the features incorporated into the Bell 407/ 206L3/L4 filter system are included in the 206B design.

“AFS filters have proved their worth during more than 400,000 military flight hours, including demanding high-tempo operations in Afghanistan and Iraq,” claimed AFS manager Jay Foster. “The system can also be used by OH-58A and OH-58C operators.”

Iridium Communication System from Wingspeed

Wingspeed unveiled a pair of new XLLink Iridium voice/datalink systems that it claimed will provide access to affordable flight tracking, two-way text messaging, voice-calling and the aircraft communication addressing and reporting system (Acars) data service.

The new XLLink System Model L generates and sends messages containing GPS information, via the Iridium satellite constellation, to Wingspeed’s ground-based servers, which format and route data via a secure Internet connection to customer operation centers.

The system is integrated with Flight Explorer’s aircraft situation display software for tracking aircraft. As a result, operators can track their aircraft using just a PC with Internet access and Flight Explorer software. According to Wingspeed president Jim Becker, it costs about $3,000.

New Sim from FSI

FlightSafety International (FSI) demonstrated its new mobile graphical flight simulator LNV, a full-flight device with software that it says can be configured to replicate any aircraft, helicopter or fixed-wing.

The portable simulation system makes it possible for operators to train their flight crews on or off site, to their schedules, using what FSI calls its most versatile mobile training system. The system can be operated from inside a trailer, portable container or fixed training site.

LNV is designed to meet line-oriented flight training requirements. FSI engineers can develop detailed visual databases to replicate any specific geographical and infrastructure elements. Instructors can inject mechanical failures, inclement weather or hostile encounters.

The system draws upon the same line of image libraries used in FSI’s full-flight simulators to convey realistic topography and climatic conditions. Managed through a PC-based control station, all training events are repeatable.

Safe Flight System on Bell 206s

The Flight’s exceedance warning system installed on more than 100 U.S. Navy Bell TH-57 trainers works with the Bell 206 series as well.

Over-temps and power surges cost the Navy millions of dollars in maintenance, according to Safe Flight. They can also cause premature component failure, higher operating costs and even lead to accidents.

The company’s solution is a tactile feedback alert that, when operating limits are approached or exceeded, delivers a warning vibration through the collective lever. Spokes- man Matt Greene said that the sensation is first transmitted at about 98 percent of the published limit and doubles in intensity at 100 percent. “Pilots can now ‘feel’ their way around the helicopter’s flight envelope and the benefits are safer operations, less maintenance downtime and lower DOC,” Greene said.

LA Fire Department Tests Aircrane

Erickson Aircrane has completed a series of demonstrations for the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LACFD) to illustrate how its Sikorsky S-64 Aircrane can deal with a range of emergency response missions.

During a three-day period in December, an Aircrane crew demonstrated how the helicopter could suppress fires in a high-rise building with a water/foam cannon, rescue survivors from the water in a basket and treat them in a hard-mounted medevac pod. The Aircrane also laid cable from a reel, lifted a standard ship container and removed wreckage using a hydraulic grapple.

Erickson is already under contract to the LACFD to fight fires in the area, and spokesman Dennis Hubbard said the Aircrane incident response systems (AIRS) program “is a joint effort between us and the department to develop a wider spectrum of aerial response for Los Angeles.”

GE Milestone at Columbia

Columbia Helicopters achieved a milestone of 1.2 million engine flight hours on GE’s CT58 engine in January.

In service for more than 40 years, the civil CT58 and military T58 engine series has accumulated more than 30 million flight hours. The active CT58 fleet of 350 engines has been averaging a total of 200,000 engine flight hours each year, with some individual engines exceeding 2,400 hours per year.

Columbia has also begun an STC program to install Honeywell’s VXP HUMS on its current fleet of Boeing 234s and BV 107s. So far, it has been evaluating the capability of Honeywell’s tandem-rotor track and balance monitoring system. Later, it expects to implement a plan to permanently install HUMS equipment on the aircraft with newly developed additional system and parameter monitoring.

“The VXP will allow the customer to record, monitor and diagnose data from numerous sensors, all in one box, without the need for additional equipment,” said Honeywell HUMS product development manager Qua Le.

Additional reporting by Kirby J. Harrison, Mark Huber, Daryl Murphy, R. Randall Padfield, Meredith Saini, Matt Thurber and Harry Weisberger