Helicopter Expert Questions New Quest Design

 - November 17, 2011, 3:52 PM

Jean-Pierre Dubreuil, an expert with the French Air and Space Academy and a Eurocopter retiree, is questioning several features of the new Quest Helicopters AVQ tandem-rotor helicopter program announced at the Dubai Air Show earlier this week.

In an interview with AIN, Dubreuil questioned whether passengers could withstand the acceleration forces of being ejected in the cabin capsule, a feature Quest is proposing for safety in the event of dire emergency. AVQ designer Volodymyr Udvenko contends that passengers will experience “4Gs for 0.5 seconds and then 2Gs for another 1.5 seconds.”

Also, Quest had announced that it is “talking to suppliers who already have certified helicopter fly-by-wire controls” but later clarified that Quest will in fact use a firm that has designed fly-by-wire controls for Antonov civil airplanes.

Finally, Quest says it expects that $50 million will be sufficient for development, including prototype construction and testing, thanks to low Ukrainian costs. Dubreuil maintains that a figure somewhere between $150 million and $200 million would be more realistic.

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Chad Trautvetter's picture

Following is a rebuttal received by AIN from Quest Helicopters commercial and deputy project manager Mike Creed:

Firstly we appreciate Mr. Dubreuil’s comments and expertise. With a Research and development Helicopter programme like ours it is good to have a debate of this nature as we are then able to clarify areas of concern or misunderstanding. I shall answer each point in turn as follows.

1 – CAN PASSENGERS WITHSTAND THE FORCES CREATED IN EVENT OF EJECTION OF THE PASSENGER CAPSULE CABIN

Our Designers’ comments of an initial 4Gs for 0.5 seconds and 2Gs for 1.5 seconds still stands, as our mathematical computations show that these forces are indeed acceptable on the body especially as the ejection process commences with a detachment and then progressive acceleration of the capsule cabin in a forward trajectory.  The whole process is not as invasive to the body as an ejection initiated upwards experienced by fighter pilots in emergency situations. We must remember that this system would only be used in case of a significant catastrophic failure. We believe that if there is the technology available to save the passengers and crew then we should do all we can to develop this system. Safety is Quest Helicopters prime goal with the AVQ series.

2 – “FLY BY WIREPRIMARY CONTROL SYSTEM

Our Designers have been evaluating “Fly by wire” systems from a number of suppliers over the past two years. We have chosen the company EKRAN from Kiev Ukraine to supply our initial system. EKRAN supply their system to Antonov which is being utilized already in some of their Aircraft. Our goal was to find a light “fly By Wire” system that could be used in our AVQ series of Helicopters.

3 – DEVELOPMENT COSTS

Quest Helicopters Quote of $50,000,000 is a number based upon our expectations of the initial phase of this complex process. Our design Bureau is small but with an engineering core consisting of innovation and new Technology ideas. We are not  Eurocopter, whose products are globally accepted and indeed well respected. We do not either have a budget for R & D that Eurocopter would expect as a matter of course, However, we do not either have the hefty overheads that come with a globally accepted and well established Aerospace organization. Our process started two years ago and the “Up To” and initial $50,000,000 budget that we quoted is a fluid number due to the complexity of the processes. In the Ukraine we can carry out our R & D in a very cost effective environment. We already have half of our Prototype number 1 constructed and the costs are going to plan as predicted. It is the certification process that will take the time and money. We do expect to obtain Ukrainian Certification first, then followed by EASA and  the UAE. The Ukraine has a bilateral agreement with EASA, however the process is long and we are talking to all certifying bodies so that we can present a strong product that complies with all the requirements. Safety and new technology are our main goals. All our announcements to date have stated that we are Developing, defining and refining the Technology. I am sure that additional phases of our program will require more funding however we are happy to walk before we run. The Quest Helicopter board fully understand the process both in time and money and we already have the phases in place to cater for this progress. We will advise in due course when we are ready with our phase 2.

I do hope the above has addressed the concerns that Mr. Dubreuil expressed and we would be delighted to discuss more on our project at any time, as a full understanding of our programme is necessary to obtain a clear picture of our goals.  We also extend an invitation to Mr Dubreuil to come and speak with us directly about the project.

Kind regards,
Mike

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