Sikorsky Aircraft of Stratford, Conn. has agreed to acquire Polish aircraft maker PZL Mielec, which will form the foundation of Sikorsky’s European operations. Sikorsky and the Polish government announced the contract during a ceremony in Warsaw on January 10.
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft and their powerplants, including helicopters, tiltrotors and unmanned air vehicles.
While Eurocopter remains the leader in unit sales of civil helicopters, its competitors are honing their products. The company’s management team is well aware of the pressure, as one official recently expressed concern about new competing products from Western manufacturers. He stated that they will soon be as capable as, and less expensive than, Eurocopter’s.
Organizers of this year’s Heli-Expo helicopter show in Orlando hope they can duplicate some of the magic of their business aviation counterparts at the National Business Aviation Association, who hosted a record NBAA Convention in the same city less than four months ago. If the success of last year’s Heli-Expo in Dallas is any indication, the Helicopter Association International could set a new attendance record of its own next month.
Toulouse, France-based aerial work specialist AeroVision is further developing its proprietary aerial cinematography system, which Airbus uses exclusively for in-flight images. The camera system is mounted on a modified Aerospatiale Corvette.
AgustaWestland is acquiring Bell Helicopter’s 25-percent stake in the AB139 twin-turbine helicopter program. “Consolidating the ownership of the AB139 will provide a single face to the customer, leading to increased sales and greater customer satisfaction related to follow-on support services,” said AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppi Orsi.
An ongoing investigation into the August 10 fatal crash of an S-76C+ in the Baltic Sea has led the NTSB to ask the FAA to take “urgent” action on several recommendations. Flight-data recordings show that the twin-turbine helicopter “pitched up and rolled to the left, followed by a series of rotations to the right before striking the water,” killing all 14 aboard.
Following the crash of a Sikorsky S-76 into the Gulf of Mexico, the two pilots and 10 passengers survived several hours in the water before being rescued, despite their injuries and problems with life-saving equipment. On September 6, at about 4 p.m., the Houston Helicopters S-76 ditched into the Gulf some 24 miles southeast of Sabine Pass, Texas, after a dual engine failure.
Sikorsky reported Tuesday that it received FAA certification for its S-76C++ helicopter, an improved version of the S-76C+. The inaugural C++ went to PHI (formerly Petroleum Helicopters), where it will be used for offshore oil support and employee transfer missions. In total there are more than 60 S-76C++ helicopters on order, according to Sikorsky.
Investigations into two accidents involving Eurocopter AS 350A and AS 350B2 helicopters led the NTSB to determine that the hydraulic pump drive belt (P/N 704A33690004) prematurely failed in flight. Additionally, an inquiry into the FAA’s Service Difficulty Report database found that 43 failures and/or replacements of hydraulic pump drive belts with that part number occurred from February 1995 to the present.
Twenty-nine-year-old Chana Daskal, the sole survivor of an Aug. 10, 2001 Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters crash, will receive $38 million under a settlement. Besides losing her husband in the accident, Daskal suffered severe burns and had both legs amputated.