A mystery buyer has bought nearly half the shares in one of the world’s biggest helicopter operators, Russia’s UTair Aviation. UTair, heavily involved in United Nations peacekeeping operations from East Timor to Iraq, has worked with the UN since the collapse of the Soviet Union and, with a fleet of nearly 200 rotorcraft, is one of its biggest helicopter service providers.
Fledgling helicopter commuter airline America Rising has pushed back to 2006 the launch of its New York to Washington, D.C. rotorcraft shuttle service, blaming a lack of suitably de-ice-equipped helicopters and continued delay in gaining approval for the operation from the Transportation Security Administration.
The first production Eurocopter EC 225 medium twin made its maiden flight in late June. Eurocopter said the “flawless” event lasted just over two hours. The EC 225 is powered by two Turbomeca Makila 2A modular turboshafts, an engine that has just been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Each of the powerplants generates 2,413 shp in contingency mode–14 percent more than the previous model.
Boundary Layer Research has won FAA approval for a hover-performance increase of up to 250 pounds for Bell 204Bs, 205A-1s and UH-1Hs fitted with its tailboom strake modification kits. Known as the Performance Pack, the new clearance is the result of high-density-altitude flight tests conducted last summer near Greybull, Wyo.
Last year was something of a landmark in helicopter firefighting activity. During one of the driest summers on record in the northern hemisphere, rotorcraft were deployed for long periods–often to areas where they had not been needed before–to stem the progress of flames.
Russia’s Air Register of International Aviation Committee (AMRAK) in late June awarded the Tupolev Tu-334 regional jet AP-25 certification, allowing revenue operation of the RSK MiG/Aviant-built 102-seat jets after five years of intermittent test flying. The approval, which hypothetically parallels FAR Part 25, came just two months after RSK MiG director Vladimir Toryanin threatened to shut down program development for lack of funds.
Brazil’s Embraer continued to spread its steadily expanding influence among the world’s airlines last month with a 12-aircraft order for 76-seat Embraer 170s from Finnair and the entry into service of a pair of Chinese-built ERJ-145s in the People’s Republic.
As studies on Bombardier’s proposed 110- to 130-seat jets progress, all the early talk about extensive use of new high-tech composites in the airframe now appears somewhat exaggerated if not a complete misrepresentation.
Bombardier’s once beleaguered Q400 turboprop continued its steady but certain market penetration in the Far East last month when Japan Air Commuter committed to four more of the 78-seat turboprops. Options for another four of the big propjets accompanied the firm order, worth roughly $80 million. The Japanese launch customer for the Q400, JAC took delivery of the first of five aircraft in October 2002.
The newly established leasing arm of Finnish flag carrier Finnair last month placed a firm order for 12 Embraer 170 regional jets as part of a deal worth more than $300 million that calls for first delivery of the 76-seat airplanes by the fall of next year. The contract, signed by Finnair Aircraft Finance, includes options for another eight Embraer 175s and/or 190s, raising the potential value of the deal to $510 million.