Composite Technology, a Sikorsky Aerospace Services company based at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, has opened a $15 million structure to dynamically balance helicopter main rotor blades. It can test main rotor blades that rotate either clockwise or counterclockwise, and its two 3,000-shp, variable-frequency drive motors make it suitable for light to heavy helicopters. A test involves three blades: a precision-balanced master blade and two test blades. One blade can weigh up to 500 pounds.
Aviation International News » April 2012
German aerospace research center DLR has completed a series of flight simulator trials with a new helmet-mounted display. The testing program enlisted helicopter pilots from the German federal police, ADAC (the German Automobile Association) and German armed forces. Aimed at easing landings in poor visibility, such as brown-out or white-out conditions, the information displayed includes altitude, speed, course, attitude and obstacle situation. The device eliminates the need for pilots to constantly switch between looking outside the helicopter and checking the instrument panel.
The Japan Coast Guard has ordered four Sikorsky S-76Ds, which will replace “several helicopters that were damaged in the tsunami of 2011,” the manufacturer said. The Japan Coast Guard had been a long-time user of the S-76C, C+ and C++. Sikorsky has also received an order for one S-76D from Swiss-based Air Engiadina. It will be operated in the UK or Switzerland for VIP and other passenger flights. Delivery is scheduled for next year.
The recently enacted ‘‘FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012’’ places the agency on stable financial footing–at least through 2014–and also contains some important provisions for the helicopter industry. First, it requires the FAA Administrator, within one year, to design and conduct a study of mandating Part 135 helicopter ambulance providers to use night vision goggles. In addition, it places more restrictions on air tour operators.
Plans for Rockwell Collins to introduce high-speed satcom using the Inmarsat Global Express Ka-band broadband system in 2014 have changed as the two companies “recently discontinued negotiations on an agreement to develop a joint global Ka broadband solution for the aviation industry,” according to Rockwell Collins. “Accordingly, Rockwell Collins is evaluating alternative broadband solutions as part of its continued commitment to provide comprehensive connectivity offerings.”
The FAA has issued technical standard order certification (TSO-C113 and –C160) to Spectralux Avionics for its Dlink+ w/CPDLC controller pilot datalink communications system. The new system combines the control display unit, communications management unit and VDL Mode A/2 radio into a cockpit-mounted line-replaceable unit, and it includes interfaces for satcom, cockpit printers and other compatible devices, according to Spectralux.
Aveillant, a spin-off company from France-based technology engineering specialist Altran, is developing a new radar designed to distinguish between aircraft and the rotating blades of wind turbines, eliminating the potential confusion wind farms could cause in ATC and allowing wind farms to be built closer to airports.
Universal Avionics is still offering an upgrade program for the UNS-1M/1Msp FMS to the reconditioned UNS-1E/1Esp, but the reconditioned units are expected to run out by year-end, according to a company spokeswoman. While the UNS-1E/1Esp are not Waas/SBAS-enabled, “they do offer an alternative solution to a more complex upgrade for UNS-1M/1Msp operators, she explained. A new UNS-1Ew with Waas is an alternative upgrade for the UNS-1M, and Universal is offering a $20,000 credit toward suggested list price through December 31.
Bell Helicopter is now using Blue Sky Network’s Hawkeye PT Iridium for tracking and communications during delivery flights of helicopters flying to customer sites from Bell’s Piney Flats, Tenn. service and support division. The Hawkeye PT weighs 6.5 ounces and runs on battery, ship or AC power. Iridium messaging is via short-burst data, allowing transmission of helicopter location and short messages over the narrowband Iridium network.
Last month, the Gulfstream G150 fleet surpassed 100,000 flight hours and the 100th G150 rolled off the initial-phase production line, nearly six years after the aircraft entered service. With 95 aircraft in service, the fleet has logged more than 100,000 flight hours and more than 72,000 landings. In addition, the midsize twinjet is certified in 11 countries and has garnered 11 city-pair speed records. Its dispatch reliability rate is 99.88 percent, Gulfstream said.