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Rotorcraft » Rotorcraft Aircraft
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft.
It seems summer is the time of year for somnolent helicopter programs to wake up and stretch their rotors toward the sun…and certification. According to sources within Polish rotorcrafter PZL-Swidnik, that company has presented the certification documentation for its five-seat SW-4 to Polish aeronautical authorities.
Bell/Agusta Aerospace engineers working on the BA609 Tiltrotor have stepped up their certification efforts, now working with the FAA and the EASA (via Italian authorities) and planning on more than 100 hours of flight testing this year. That goal represents a major acceleration; the company has logged only 300 hours since 2003. However, the first flight of the third prototype has been delayed again.
Bell Helicopter Textron announced the recent deliveries of three helicopters–a Bell 412, 206B-3 and 430–to customers in vastly different industries and took orders for two 407s in September. The Fort Worth, Texas-based manufacturer also inked a deal at the NBAA Convention in Orlando, Fla., last month on the sale of an AB139, jointly developed with AgustaWestland.
Robinson Helicopter delivered its first R22 piston single in October 1979. Exactly 24 years later, the Torrance, Calif. manufacturer delivered its 5,000th helicopter. This milestone represents the production of 3,489 R22s and 1,522 four-seat R44s. The 5,000th machine, an R44 Raven II, was shipped to National Airways, a Robinson dealer based in Lanseria, South Africa.
In separate ceremonies at last month’s NBAA Convention, Bell/Agusta announced the sale of a corporate AB139 to American International Group and Eurocopter revealed that the EC 120 on display was bought. The buyer of the EC 120 wasn’t disclosed, but the seller, insurance broker Lance Toland, immediately ordered a new EC 120, this one with air conditioning.
The Bush Administration’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget request for NASA includes an overall increase for space exploration, but aeronautics research continues to fall short, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) said last month. The request totals $17.6 billion, an increase of 2.9 percent from Fiscal Year 2008.
Guimbal Hélicoptères has plans to take on the ubiquitous R22 in the training market. The company, launched by a former Eurocopter employee, has made headway, having secured orders from several European companies, including Eurocopter.
Bell Helicopter is restructuring its product line to accelerate deliveries of aircraft in high demand, namely the Bell 412, 407 and 429. The Fort Worth manufacturer is increasing production of these models while ending production of the Bell 206B3 JetRanger, 427, 430 and 210 by 2010. Bell anticipates that the change will enable it to build a larger number of commercial helicopters each year.
Yesterday at Heli-Expo in Houston, MD Helicopters CEO Lynn Tilton told the aviation press that she is “probably going to buy a very light jet”–not just an airplane, but an entire company. Tilton added that she has been negotiating with a composites production firm in Italy.