The Eurocopter EC 175 medium twin helicopter made its first flight on Friday at the company’s headquarters in Marignane, France, according to a source close to Eurocopter. Another source–a Eurocopter official–told AIN that the first flight was the culmination of almost one month of ground tests. The manufacturer will stage an official “maiden flight” on Thursday next week.
Eurocopter Training Services (ETS) will offer a training module for helideck landing officers (HLOs), the surface personnel in charge of helicopter operations on offshore oil platforms, starting in the middle of next year. The company sees a major market in regions such as Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia, where HLOs receive little training, according to ETS officials.
Canada-based offshore operator VIH Aviation Group (VIH) and New Zealand-based HNZ Group last month announced the formation of a joint venture to provide offshore helicopter services in Australia and its coastal regions.
AgustaWestland last week achieved two significant milestones, with the first flights of two new military helicopter designs on consecutive days. First to fly was the AW159 Lynx Wildcat, which lifted off on Thursday at Yeovil in the UK. The aircraft performed “as expected” in general handling checks, according to chief test pilot Donald Maclaine.
For the first time at the Dubai Air Show, Eurocopter (Stand A140) is showing its full-scale mockup of the in-development EC175 medium-twin helicopter. The manufacturer recently disclosed some performance numbers for the seven-metric-ton-class rotorcraft, which will compete mainly with the AgustaWestland AW139. What is now official is the EC175’s radius of action offshore–270 nm at ISA+20–and a cruise speed of about 135 knots.
The reformed European Helicopter Association–operating under the acronym newEHA–publicly touched down for the first time at the 2009 Helitech show at Duxford, UK, albeit having had to adopt a slightly revised flight plan. At the 11th hour, the European HEMS and Air Ambulance Committee (EHAC) opted not to merge with newEHA.
Bristow Group in late September ordered three AW139s for its offshore operations. The contract also includes options for the medium twin. It brings the number of firm orders to “more than 440.” Separately, AgustaWestland has signed an agreement with maintenance specialist Heli-One to establish a repair and overhaul center in Vancouver.
American Eurocopter has lodged a protest concerning the Maryland State Police’s (MSP) request for proposal (RFP) to replace its fleet of 11 aging AS 365Ns. Eurocopter asserts that the RFP was designed to favor the AgustaWestland AW139. Eurocopter had proposed refurbishment, rather than replacement, of the Maryland fleet along the lines of what it has done for the U.S. Coast Guard’s fleet of HH-65s.
A recent study of the transportation infrastructure in Italy determined the nation needs a means of effecting a major improvement in the flow of traffic between its densely populated urban areas, and the country is testing opening low-level air routes to rotorcraft as a way of improving mobility.
Four new AW139s destined for Trinidad and Tobago are the latest in a series of U.S.-manufactured helicopters whose export loans are being backed by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The Ex-Im reports guaranteeing through July more than $200 million in U.S. commercial helicopter export loans for aircraft destined for markets in the Americas and Asia.