The first production model of a new generation of Marine One U.S. Presidential helicopters made its initial flight earlier today at AgustaWestland’s plant in Yeovil, England. Designated by the U.S. Navy as VH-71, the helicopter is based on the three-engine AW101. The first block of five helicopters is scheduled to begin entering service next year. The Navy has been test flying four prototype block one aircraft over the past year.
Rotorcraft » Rotorcraft Aircraft
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft.
Biggin Hill, UK-based helicopter charter operator Sky Charter has been designated the UK dealer for PZL Swidnik rotorcraft. The company has ordered three SW4 light singles and is expecting deliveries next spring.
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).
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.
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.
South African-based maintenance specialist Thunder City is offering for Eurocopter Pumas a modernization program that the company claims extends the life of the medium twin. The program consists mainly of a P4 structural check and the installation of a five-display glass cockpit made by Chelton Flight Systems. The company claims the program ensures the mechanical soundness of the helicopter and provides improved pilot situational awareness.
Thirty-eight months after Sikorsky’s formal announcement of the X2 “technology demonstrator,” the compound helicopter made its first flight yesterday at the Sikorsky-Schweizer rapid prototyping facility in Horseheads, N.Y. During the 30-minute flight, Sikorsky chief test pilot Kevin Bredenbeck conducted slow forward flight, hover and hover turn maneuvers.
Sikorsky announced this week that it has sold two S-92 helicopters to the International Handling Co. (IHC). The contract includes the option to purchase four additional S-92 helicopters configured for offshore oil missions.
Delivery of the first aircraft is expected to take place in 2010. IHC, an Azerbaijan-based operator, plans to expand its service to the growing offshore oil industry based in Eurasia.
Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling issued a prediction here this week that Eurocopter’s market share in 2008 will stay above 50 percent. “The only market that is suffering a bit is the corporate/VIP one in the U.S.,” he said. The company expects turnover to grow by 6 to 8 percent over last year’s e4.17 billion ($6.5 billion). It expects the number of deliveries to approach 550.