The FAA on February 9 released its final rule on proposed changes to the rules governing air-tour operators, who must demonstrate compliance within six months. Operators of helicopter air tours will have 18 months to outfit their aircraft with floats, if required.
Aviation International News » March 2007
Turbomeca officials in late January broke ground for a new, more modern factory at the company’s headquarters in Bordes, southwest France. The 620,000-sq-ft facility, which should be completed next year, is expected to streamline production and enhance the integration of design and manufacture.
AgustaWestland last month announced that its sales in India are growing, with seven deliveries last year (not all new rotorcraft), four planned this year and another 12 over the 2008-2009 period. In addition, Hindustan Construction has ordered a second Bell/Agusta BA609 Tiltrotor. Hong-Kong-based Sharp Ocean is now AgustaWestland’s distributor for India, Sri Lanka and The Maldives.
Turbomeca and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will soon be flight testing their codeveloped 1,200-shp Ardiden 1H (or Shakti, under its Indian designation) turboshaft engine, the French partner announced last month. Certification is pegged for this fall, with deliveries to begin shortly thereafter. Initial applications will be upgraded military versions of the twin-turbine HAL Dhruv. The engine made its first ground run in October 2005.
Late in January in Paris, Eurocopter disclosed that it took orders last year for a record 615 helicopters worth €4.9 billion ($6.4 billion). Of those sales, 47 percent are for civil aircraft. The European manufacturer’s backlog now stands at €11 billion ($14 billion). Eurocopter last year delivered 381 rotorcraft and saw revenue increase by 18 percent, to €3.8 billion ($4.9 billion).
The FAA has issued a Safety Alert For Operators (SAFO) regarding the functional testing of helicopter hydraulic systems before flight. According to FAA accident investigators, some operators are not testing the helicopter hydraulic systems in accordance with the rotorcraft flight manual (RFM) or published and approved guidelines.
A Fokker 100 flown by Air France subsidiary Régional Compagnie Aérienne Européenne crashed immediately after takeoff on January 25 in Pau, southwest France. All four crewmembers and 50 passengers in the 100-seat jet evacuated safely, but one person on the ground was killed. The accident occurred at 11:28 a.m. local time, as the aircraft was departing for Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
ATR’s sales momentum didn’t pause for the turn of the calendar as the Franco-Italian turboprop maker landed two more contracts for a total of eight turboprops before the ink had dried on last year’s financial reports. Canarian Navigation and Aerial Services, a company operating from Spain’s Canary Islands, announced a $36 million contract for two new ATR 72-500s for delivery this year following an agreement for four made last September.
Bombardier acknowledged in late January that it has held “exploratory discussions” about collaboration in the turboprop market with Russian aircraft maker Aviacor, but it stopped short of confirming reports that it will transfer Q300 turboprop production to the underused factory, now owned by Oleg Deripaska’s Basic Element holding company.
Houston-based ExpressJet joins some pretty rarefied company this month when it begins flying 44 Embraer ERJ 145s under its own colors in a point-to-point “spider web” network of 24 cities ranging from Monterey, Calif., to Raleigh-Durham, N.C. The new operation marks the second attempt in the last few years by a regional airline to set out on its own after failing to reach terms on code-share contract concessions with its mainline parent.