The first prototype of the Marenco Swisshelicopter SKYe SH09 would be assembled “over the next weeks,” the company predicted early last month. CEO Martin Stucki said testing of gearboxes and rotors was confirming expectations and simulations. The program’s schedule has the prototype flying four to six weeks after the completion of final assembly.
Rotorcraft » Rotorcraft Aircraft
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft.
China-based Henan New Continental Business Aviation has ordered two Eurocopter helicopters in VIP configuration. An AS350B3e Ecureuil/AStar single will be delivered at year-end and an EC145 Mercedes-Benz Style (the first such light twin to be sold in Asia) in the middle of next year. The operator plans to create a helicopter fleet for business passengers. “While VIP helicopter transportation in China is relatively young, the customers’ needs are maturing rapidly,” chairman Zhou Suiji stated.
AgustaWestland is flight-testing a redesigned vertical fin for the AW609 civil tiltrotor, part of an extensive package of aerodynamic improvements aimed at reducing drag by up to 10 percent, cutting weight and increasing performance. Other changes include new engine exhaust nozzles and modifications to the prop-rotor spinner cones.
Chinese media recently reported that Avic officials have ambitions of entering the high-speed rotorcraft market. The airframer’s helicopter subsidiary is developing helicopters that will be able to reach 270 knots, said president Lin Zuoming. Meanwhile, Avicopter general manager Cai Yi stated, “Avicopter civil helicopters can join the ranks of the world’s most advanced,” adding that his company has mastered core technologies in key areas such as rotors, flight controls and avionics.
The first customer delivery of the Sikorsky S-76D medium-twin helicopter is “imminent,” the Stratford, Conn.-based aircraft manufacturer said. According to a Sikorsky executive, the first example will be handed over this month to an offshore operator in the Gulf of Mexico. The first executive S-76D is scheduled for delivery in January to a customer in Europe. The OEM expects EASA certification toward the end of the year.
AgustaWestland expects that its 16- to 18-passenger AW189 medium-twin helicopter will be EASA certified by year-end. Four prototypes and two pre-production aircraft have logged a combined 1,900 flight hours, it said. Certification, once hoped for this summer, is now “very close,” according to a company spokesman. The first delivery, to offshore operator Bristow, is scheduled to take place by year-end, he told AIN.
The fatal crash of a CHC Scotia-operated Eurocopter AS332L2 Super Puma on August 23 off the Shetland Islands in the UK has created an outcry among passengers and is puzzling experts. Investigators have found no evidence of technical failure so far, nor have they hinted at human factors. Meanwhile, a pilot based in the North Sea noted that the helicopter seriously deviated from the expected course, two nautical miles from its destination, Sumburgh Airport.
In a bid to establish an equal footing with Western helicopter manufacturers, Russian Helicopters recently made multiple announcements about sales, programs and joint ventures.
An order for as many as 35 AgustaWestland AW139 medium helicopters, which might be produced by the Helivert joint factory with Russian Helicopters, hit a snag in late August. Negotiations between the Russian Defense Ministry and AgustaWestland spilled into the press, with deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov telling the country’s news agency Itar-Tass, “It’s a very expensive machine. If they cut the price, then we can return to the issue,” giving the distinct impression that a decision had already been made to pass on the $671 million order.
Eurocopter has received two more firm orders for VIP versions of the EC175 medium twin helicopter, bringing the total backlog to 48. Deliveries to both unidentified customers are scheduled for 2016. The interior design, which accommodates six to eight passengers, was done by Peder Eidsgaard of Pegasus Design. Cabin completion will be performed at Eurocopter’s factory in Marignane, France. Once planned for 2011, certification of the EC175 is now expected early next year.