The UK’s Kent Air Ambulance Trust is celebrating what it describes as “an amazing turnaround” in its fortunes. A year ago the charity that supports the resident MD 902 and crew was projecting a deficit of $620,000 (£350,000), on the back of three difficult years that had already seen reserves depleted by almost $1.77 million (£1 million).
Sagem Avionics of Grand Prairie, Texas, has developed a glass cockpit for the Erickson S-64 Aircrane, a type currently much in demand as an aerial firefighter. New digital avionics, together with a solid-state attitude heading reference system and three-axis automatic flight control system, complete what Sagem calls “the most extensive upgrade to the helicopter since its incorporation into the Erickson fleet.”
A British company is finding success selling its portable helicopter landing pads in the Middle East.
The UK government is investigating GKN’s $1.79 billion (£1 billion) sale of its 50-percent stake in helicopter company AgustaWestland on grounds of national security. Government trade and industry minister Helen Smith has issued a European Intervention Notice under the 2002 Enterprise Act.
What began as a concept that met with outright skepticism and indeed some hostility by the established aviation industry has blossomed into a viable branch of business and personal transportation that continues to fuel manufacturers’ production lines, gobbles up flight crews and, at least for now, staves off recessionary pressures by keeping order books fat.
MD Helicopters has to slash its work force by a quarter. The troubled company has been further damaged by a slowdown in orders for its helicopters, which are primarily aimed at the law enforcement and air ambulance markets.
The company is “permanently eliminating” 23 jobs, according to a spokeswoman, while another 33 people are being laid off until business improves. About 200 employees will remain at the plant in Mesa, Ariz.
Sikorsky president Steve Finger said that Schweizer’s “ability for rapid prototyping makes the company an excellent choice for advanced concept evaluation and its focus on product safety aligns well with our own.” In fact, Schweizer is such a good match for Sikorsky that Finger bought the company. The sale of the Horseheads, N.Y.
US Airways has placed a firm order for 92 Airbus airliners, including the first ever for the A350XWB by a U.S. airline.
Researchers at Jeppesen are rethinking the “next evolutionary concepts” in navigation charting in an effort that company officials said will involve a gradual shift away from paper charts in favor of new types of electronic charts. At the top of the heap of ideas seriously being considered is a unique synthetic-vision system (SVS) in which 3-D nav fixes would appear before the pilots’ eyes on the primary flight displays (PFDs).
Civil aircraft in the 1990s didn’t look radically different from those of the previous 20 years but, as had happened in the previous decade, they were different beneath the familiar skin. Like the 1980s, the economy of the 1990s got off to a rough start, but this last decade of the millennium picked up a spectacular head of steam midway through its 10-year run.