EASA Approves FastFin Rotor Mod For Bell Helicopters

 - May 13, 2012, 6:30 AM
The Bell 412 helicopter is soon to be the latest rotorcraft to be certified to use BLR Aerospace's FastFin rotor enhancement and stability system.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified the FastFin tail rotor enhancement and stability system for installation and flight on Bell 212 helicopters. Certification for Bell 204s and 205s is imminent, and EASA approval of BLR’s best-selling Bell 412 FastFin system is in the works.

“With FastFin installed, most operators will enjoy a 10- to 15-percent increase in useful load,” said BLR vice president sales and marketing Dave Marone. Heli Austria, the first European operator of BLR strakes, has ordered two FastFin systems for its Bell medium helicopters, which routinely operate between 7,000 and 10,000 feet, but sometimes reach altitudes of 13,000 feet performing missions ranging from mountain rescues to utility.

Separately, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has placed a purchase order for 18 shipsets of BLR Aerospace’s winglets to be installed on the agency’s King Air 300 fleet. The winglets include recently certified LED lighting systems.

BLR (Stand 1931) recently delivered the FAA’s first two winglet systems. Delivery of the additional 16 systems will be timed to support the FAA’s back-to-back installation schedule.

Winglets enhance aerodynamics and safety for the King Airs on which they are installed, and operators report a range of handling and operational benefits. Seidler Aviation of Victoria, Australia, added winglets to its King Air B200 last year. “Our previous climb rate was around 1,500 feet per minute at 140 knots,” said Max Quartermain, operator for Seidler. “We are now climbing at 2,000 feet per minute at 150 knots.” He described the fuel savings as “significant over long legs.”

The winglets increase wingspan by 3 feet 5 inches as well as wing aspect ratio, lowering induced drag and making for faster flying on lower fuel consumption. They also act as a physical pressure barrier, which conserves valuable lift at the outboard extremities. According to BLR, safety is enhanced through improvements to handling, one-engine-inoperable climb and slow flight.