French Two-seat Turbine Helo Completes Maiden Flight

 - June 5, 2012, 12:20 AM
Heli Air Design’s Helineo is a turbine-powered, two-seat helicopter.

Heli Air Design’s Helineo turbine-powered, two-seat helicopter made its first flight on April 26, the company announced last month. In rainy weather, test pilot Stéphane Ligier performed a series of 15 takeoffs and flights in ground effect at Metz Nancy Lorraine airport (see video). The helicopter performed as expected, the company said. First flight had initially been pegged for July last year.

Flight-testing will explore the envelope with the goal of obtaining CNSK 2 experimental kit assembly approval. This will be a first step, according to Heli Air Design, a subsidiary of precision manufacturing specialist Serolor, as it seeks financial partners to launch the construction of two more prototypes and the start of a full certification program.

The aircraft is an all-composite design, although the first prototype has some metal in the tailboom. The turboshaft is a 160-shp Solar T62 T-32. The T62 is known mostly as an auxiliary power unit and is available only on the second-hand market.

For the Helineo, Heli Air Design claims a cruise speed of 90 knots and an empty weight of 660 pounds. The target price for a complete aircraft is €250,000 ($325,000).


I see a lot of difficulties ahead of this project before it reaches the market, not to speak reaching profitability:
first, the engine: you cannot base a business plan on engines that are no longer manufactured and rely only on second hand market
second, engine again: these small turbines are very inefficient; fuel consumption is going to be huge. To achieve a reasonnable autonomy (say 2 hrs minimum) you may be better of using piston engine and gasoline; the combined weight engine+two hours fuel might be lighter than the weight of turbo+two hours kerosene
third: making an flying one prototype is quite an achievement, but only a very small part of way to commercial production; it took 5 years for the Bambi of P.Guimbal to reach market.

Sorry to be a pessimistic. I wish you have the big financial pockets to continue, the hello looks very attractive and cute.

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