Greg Maitlen pivoted the Bell 407GX carefully as we approached a ridge slightly lower than nearby 10,064-foot Mount San Antonio (also known as Mount Baldy), the highest peak in southern California’s tinder-dry San Gabriel mountain range. Maitlen, Bell Helicopter’s regional sales manager for the mountain U.S., was piloting a demo of the 407GX’s new flight manual supplement allowing carriage of a heavier payload in hot-and-high conditions. The new AFM supplement was certified in July and involves no changes to the 407GX other than placing the new FMS-12 supplement in the helicopter.
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft and their powerplants, including helicopters, tiltrotors and unmanned air vehicles.
A German photographer spotted a modified EC135 at Airbus Helicopters’ development facility in Donauwörth, Germany. Most striking is the light twin’s new horizontal empennage, moved to the top of the vertical fin.
Airbus Brazilian subsidiary Helibras recently held its second “Operational Safety Days,” filling São Paulo’s Anhembi Morumbi University auditorium to its 300-seat capacity. “We’ll need a bigger place next year,” Helibras safety manager Antonio Modesto told AIN, describing the helicopter safety event as “the realization of a personal dream” with full company support.
Russian Helicopters and Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies have started testing the Mi-171A2 helicopter with KBO-17 avionics. The first flights of the upgraded Mi-171 will take place in Moscow. The medium-twin helicopter features a five-display suite and an obstacle warning system. With the new system, the required crew is reduced to two. Certification, once slated for this year, has been postponed to 2015.
An advance notice of proposed rulemaking from the Bureau of Safety and Environment (BSEE) seeks to improve safety for operations related to helicopters and helidecks on fixed offshore facilities. The BSEE invites comments on whether to incorporate in its regulations industry standards for design, construction and maintenance of helidecks, as well as standards for aviation fuel storage and handling.
Sikorsky Aircraft marked 75 years of modern helicopter flight that began Sept. 14, 1939, when 50-year-old chief designer and chief test pilot Igor Sikorsky lifted off the ground “to tabletop height” in an experimental helicopter designated the VS-300. That first flight began a four-year test program that “proved the efficiency of Sikorsky’s single-rotor design, gave birth to a global helicopter industry and forever changed the course of aviation history,” the company noted.
After a number of delays, Russian Helicopters is reevaluating four helicopter programs that were slated for certification this year or next, namely the Ka-226, Ka-62, Mi-171A2 and Mi-38. The company is conducting “an analysis and assessment of all its new programs to determine more precisely time frames for certification and the start of serial production,” a spokesman told AIN.
The NTSB is calling on the U.S. Coast Guard to work with the Interior Department to mitigate methane discharges from offshore energy platforms in the Gulf of Mexico when helicopters are present. The recommendation follows two power-loss incidents in helicopters that led to accidents, one in 2011 and the other last year, on or near offshore oil platforms.
The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch’s (AAIB) just-released final report on the fatal crash of an AgustaWestland A109E in January last year in central London does not suggest new causes, but investigators recommend preventative measures to avoid such collisions with obstacles in future.
To improve situational awareness and gather more specific data about helicopter movements and helicopter noise, the FAA is requesting that pilots of civil helicopters operating under VFR at or below 6,000 feet in the Los Angeles Basin squawk transponder code 1205 between September 1 and Feb. 27, 2015. Law enforcement and other first-responder helicopters have been asked to squawk 1206. However, both rotary- and fixed-wing pilots should continue to squawk 1201 when flying in the L.A. Special Flight Rules Corridor.
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