Amid swirling dancers and projected rocky landscapes, AgustaWestland drew a crowd on the exhibit floor yesterday afternoon with the formal unveiling of the latest addition to its lineup, the AW109 Trekker, its first light twin to offer skid landing gear. Expected to receive certification and begin deliveries next year, the helicopter wore the colors of launch customer Dallas-based aeromedical transport provider SevenBar, which has also ordered another AW109 and a pair of AW119s as part of its first foray into rotorcraft operation.
News and issues regarding all manner of civil and military rotorcraft and their powerplants, including helicopters, tiltrotors and unmanned air vehicles.
NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman spoke to AIN about the Board’s utilization of social media, particularly the decision to share investigation findings on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook following the July 2013 Asiana Airlines 214 landing accident at SFO, a practice that drew sharp criticism from some aviation stakeholders, including the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is engaging with the rotorcraft community to reduce accidents involving helicopters, NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman told attendees at the second-day general session here at Heli-Expo.
Europe had the highest market share of commercial helicopters in 2013, and more growth is expected this year in offshore oil and gas, EMS and SAR services. HeliTech (Booth No. 4123) has picked up a new and powerful partner to help promote participation in its USA Pavilion during the European Helicopter Association’s Helitech International show, taking place from October 14 to 16 in Amsterdam.
Two new full-motion helicopter simulators will soon be coming online at two FlightSafety International learning centers. An Airbus Helicopters EC135 simulator is expected to be up and running at FSI’s Dallas facility, followed by a Sikorsky S-92 level-D device at the company’s São Paulo center in the third quarter.
New Zealand-based Spidertracks announced a significant OEM endorsement for its low-cost flight tracking system at Heli-Expo 2014, with Robinson Helicopter now offering the Bluetooth text-enabled Spider S5 as an option on the R22, R44 and R66 models. The agreement marks the first time a rotorcraft manufacturer has offered the portable Spidertracks system from the factory.
“Robinson realized that our system offered significant advantages over competing tracking solutions,” Hannes Geiger, North American communications spokesman for Spidertracks, told AIN.
AgustaWestland has had a busy several days here at Heli-Expo. The airframer announced several orders, including one to Omni Helicopters International Group for nine helicopters (four AW139 intermediate twins and five AW189 medium twins in offshore configuration), deliveries of which will begin in late 2015 and late 2016, respectively. The order marks the conclusion of an earlier agreement for a total of 13 AW139s, and the arrival of the AW189s will mark the type’s Brazil debut, where Omni will use it to support the oil and gas industry.
An expert panel of senior Russian rotorcraft executives pointed to forecast surging demand for small and medium helicopters in their market between now and 2018. During the seventh annual “Russian Hour” here at Heli-Expo, Russia’s Helicopter Industry Association pointed to large structural changes under way in both the number and the make-up of the nation’s helicopter market, one that for the moment that continues to be dominated by heavy helicopters.
In a brief ceremony Wednesday afternoon on the Heli-Expo show floor, Rolls-Royce (Booth No. 5222) signed a multi-engine contract to deliver its RR300 light turboshaft powerplant for installation on the Scott’s-Bell 47GT-6 light utility helicopter.
“We have the commitment to ship them their first flight-test engine by June,” Rolls-Royce helicopters senior vice president Greg Fedele told AIN. “We’re really excited about this next step on the path toward production of the Scott’s-Bell 47.”
AgustaWestland (AW) performed customer demo flights aboard its prototype tiltrotor AW609 here at Heli-Expo in Anaheim, but with the aircraft still early in the certification process, few potential customers qualified to get on board. The FAA requires such passengers to be appropriately rated rotorcraft pilots, undergo simulator training in the company’s AW609 simulator, conduct a familiarization flight in the aircraft and receive a second-in-command rating. Two lucky attendees went through the process beforehand and took demo flights during the show, staged from Long Beach Airport.