The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is giving Boeing $9 million over the next two years to investigate the feasibility of developing a disc-rotor compound helicopter capable of achieving forward speeds of up to 400 ktas while retaining all the maneuverability of a traditional helicopter. The disc-rotor would have a rotating circular wing with retractable blades that extend from the disc edge for takeoff and landing.
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News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft.
The FAA reports that there are 99 approved helipads within a 20-nm radius of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and approval for four more is pending. But not all area communities are thrilled with the idea. Affluent Forsyth County imposed a temporary moratorium on new heliports there last year and is in the process of drafting more restrictive rules for any future heliports/helipads in the county.
Eurocopter (Booth No. 4682) reports that it has so far seen no consequence of the global economic downturn in its corporate/VIP helicopter sales, which the French manufacturer said will in all likelihood exceed last year’s 168-order record.
At a small airfield near Horseheads, N.Y., Sikorsky is slowly expanding the flight envelope of its X2 technology demonstrator. After a first flight at the end of August, the coaxial rotor helicopter is currently midway through the first of four flight-test phases that should enable it to reach a forward speed of 250 knots by the middle of next year.
Helicopters again played a critical role in providing safe evacuations and critical rescues before and after twin hurricanes that pounded the U.S. Gulf Coast between September 1 and September 13. But unlike when Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans and parts of coastal Mississippi and Alabama in 2005, this time authorities were ready, with detailed plans in place for Gustav and Ike.
The program to provide new VIP helicopters for the U.S. president has taken a step forward with first flight of an “operational pilot-production example” of the Lockheed Martin VH-71. The three-engine helicopter, which is based on the AgustaWestland AW101 (born as the European Helicopter Industries EH 101), had its maiden flight at the AgustaWestland factory in Yeovil, England, on September 23.
The U.S. subsidiaries of the Mecaer Group of Italy and Aerolite Max Bucher of Switzerland have signed a cooperative agreement to market emergency medical service (EMS) completions for the AgustaWestland A109 and AW139 from a facility at Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE).
AgustaWestland (Booth No. 5408) is exhibiting an AW101 cabin mockup in an “ultra-luxury” version that the European company says is entirely befitting of the heaviest civil helicopter available in the Western world.
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.
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.