On Friday, Bell Helicopter’s 429 team froze the final exterior profile of its light twin-engine helicopter after months of development flight testing. Since introducing the Bell 429 GlobalRanger at Heli-Expo 2005, Bell has flown two prototypes for more than 400 hours of flight testing. One aircraft is now in Colorado performing high-altitude testing and the other is in Arizona for high-temperature trials.
Rotorcraft » Rotorcraft Aircraft
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft.
As the month of May came to a close, a team of Boeing engineers were putting the finishing touches to a one-of-a-kind flying machine at an outpost of that company’s “Phantom Works” just outside the sun- and sand-blasted southwestern Arizona town of Yuma.
Successfully completing phase one of what will be the world’s first civil certification of a tiltrotor aircraft, veteran convertiplane pilot Roy Hopkins recently found himself in possession of something he hadn’t had much of in the last few months: spare time.
Heli-USA has taken a break from the usual Hawaiian air-tour repertoire of overflying thick jungles, pristine tropical rainforests, volcanoes surging with liquid magma and plunging sliver waterfalls. Instead it is offering tourists the alternative of seeing the 50th state’s glittering nightlife from the same unique perspective.
Like its predecessors, it would be the most widely recognized helicopter in the world– the personal transport for the world’s most powerful leader, a leader who has traveled by helicopter since the mid-1950s. And a leader who had traveled in the same make and almost the same model of American-made helicopter most of those days.
As evidence of a continual, albeit gradual, increase in the sale of commercial helicopters, multi-ship purchases are on the upswing. One of the most notable in recent months has been Air Methods’ order for a half-dozen Eurocopters–five AS 350B2s and one EC 130B4. All six will be delivered before the end of this year and receive EMS interiors and completion work at the products division of Air Methods in Englewood, Colo.
Agusta officials have revealed they are currently negotiating with Bell to increase the share the Italian manufacturer holds in the BA609 tiltrotor program. Currently at 25 percent for Agusta and 75 percent for Bell, the workshare may eventually become “close to 50/50,” Agusta CEO Amedeo Caporaletti said.
Just when it looks like the V-22 Osprey program might have a good day, the fates conspire to create more clouds on the horizon.
Making its surprise debut at last month’s MAKS airshow just outside Moscow, Kazan Helicopters’ Aktai is a roomy three-seat trainer with an aft cargo cabin similar to Western pickup trucks’ so-called “crew cabs.” Powered by a single 270-shp VAZ 4256 turboshaft, the Aktai has a mtow of 2,530 pounds, 97-knot max speed and a 13,000-foot ceiling.
According to a high-ranking official with the Hafei Aviation Industry Co., of Harbin, China, that nation expects to manufacture Eurocopter EC 120 helicopters in the near future. “It has been approved in principle to let us build a new assembly line to manufacture the EC 120 helicopter outside France,” said Qu Jingwen, general manager of Hafei Aviation Industry.