Operators of Mil helicopters meeting at Russia’s Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant (UUAP) in late July heard how the Mil-171 led rescue operations for victims of the recent earthquake in China’s Sichuan province. Of the 137 Russian, Chinese, French and U.S. helicopters involved in the effort, 74 were Mi-171s, and these were responsible for rescuing more than 37,000 people (of a total of around 60,000).
Aviation International News » September 2008
Residents of the Saint-Tropez gulf, on the French Riviera, are threatening to block helipads and the road through Saint-Tropez if the city does not make progress on addressing helicopter noise. Every summer, wealthy visitors to Saint-Tropez make extensive use of helicopters, either private or chartered, to bypass traffic jams on the busy roads.
The around-the-world helicopter speed record fell hard on August 18.
Dart Helicopter’s Apical Industries has received EASA approval for its Tri-Bag Emergency Float System on the AgustaWestland A119/AW119 Mk II. The system includes two forward and two aft bags and a baggage compartment reservoir option. It is available with or without external life rafts and is compatible with ground-handling wheels. With bags deployed, the helicopter can be water towed at speeds up to 10 knots.
New York and Las Vegas are two of the most rarefied helicopter markets in the country. While the winds of fortune can be lucrative for operators and service providers in both places, the environments also feature cut-throat competition, congested airspace, an aggressive amount of multi-level government oversight and regulation and robust anti-noise litigation from an affluent citizenry and their environmentalist allies.
AgustaWestland last year invested 11 percent of its revenues in research and development. It is a co-leader (with Eurocopter) of the CleanSky Joint Technology Initiative, a major European research program, and is studying active blade control to reduce noise. Planned is ground testing of an active blade segment, then wind tunnel testing of a complete model and eventually flight-testing of such a new rotor.
AgustaWestland has announced a weight upgrade and Russian assembly plans for the AW139 medium twin, while new helicopter models are in development and a series of efforts is launched in customer support.
Ice road truckers could be out of business soon. Boeing and SkyHook are developing a hybrid heavy-lift helicopter/blimp capable of hoisting a 40-ton sling load and moving it 200 miles without refueling. The JHL-40 will be capable of transporting equipment and materials to remote drilling and mining locations in the Canadian Arctic and Alaska. The helium “envelope” will support the vehicle while the four main rotors will lift the payload.
Boeing plans to expand the flight envelope of its unmanned vertical aerial vehicle A160T Hummingbird from the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville. The A160T set a world endurance record earlier this year, flying for 18.7 hours before landing with two hours of fuel remaining. Test plans call for the Hummingbird eventually to reach an altitude of 30,000 feet.
American Eurocopter is adding 150 employees at its Golden Triangle plant in Mississippi over the next 18 to 24 months to support an increased production rate of the UH-72A Lakota, its EC 145 variant for the U.S. Army. Currently 176 employees work at the plant, which also assembles AS 350 AStars and provides support for U.S. Coast Guard AS 365 Dolphins.