The FAA has issued an Airworthiness Directive for the Bell 206L, 206L-1, 206L-3 and 206L-4 prompted by two accidents in which investigations revealed a main rotor blade failed because of fatigue cracking. Transport Canada advises there is no reliable inspection method to detect the cracks before blade failure and has reduced the life limit from 3,600 to 1,400 hours’ time-in-service.
Bell Helicopter operators have more maintenance options with Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Cadorath Aerospace. The company has developed 123 new Bell engineering repairs in the past year and has more than 600 approved repairs for the Bell line overall.
“We have expanded the Bell 206B, 206L, 407, 204, 205, 212 and 412 rework lines,” said Gerry Cadorath, the company’s president and CEO. “We have targeted 180 more for 2012.”
Airwolf Aerospace of Middlefield, Ohio (Booth No.10243) announced it has received FAA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approval for its recently PMA-approved Torsion-Tension-(TT) Straps for Bell 206 JetRanger, 206L LongRanger and OH 58 helicopters, as well as STCs from the European Aviation Safety Association (EASA), Brazil’s Agencia Nacional de Aviacao Civil (ANAC) and Transport Canada.
These STCs will allow installation of the straps in regions of the world that do not otherwise permit use of PMA parts for flight critical components.
A Bell Helicopter spokesman said the company is “working on” solutions to deal with the aftermath of an FAA Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) that could impact 697 of its 206L series helicopters on the FAA registry.
On February 1, the FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (2012-02-51) that mandates the immediate replacement of main rotor blades on select Bell 206L, L-1, L-3 and L-4 helicopters after 1,400 hours, as opposed to the current 3,600-hour time-in-service limit, due to concerns about fatigue cracking.
Yesterday the FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (2012-02-51) that mandates the immediate replacement of main rotor blades on 697 Bell 206L, L-1, L-3 and L-4 helicopters after 1,400 hours, as opposed to the current 3,600-hour time in service limit, due to concerns about fatigue cracking. Special flight permits are prohibited under this EAD, effectively grounding hundreds of helicopters.
Bell’s Aeronautical Accessories brand will distribute the TrueView Enhanced Visions Systems infrared thermal imaging system worldwide. It is currently certified via supplemental type certificate in the U.S. and Canada for the Bell 206B and 206L. TrueView is developing systems for the Bell 407 and 429.
At this year’s Heli-Expo, Bell CEO John Garrison was adamant that the company could afford a new civil helicopter program. “Capital-wise we have the ability to invest in new platform development. That is not a constraint. We just have to pick and choose,” Garrison said, declining to identify the market sectors Bell was considering. “The business has the ability to fund it.”
Uniflight (Booth No. 2654) is developing a supplemental type certificate (STC) to install the 475-shp Rolls-Royce RR500 in the Bell 206. The $599,000 (2011 dollars, less engine core credit) STC includes the RR500 engine, new engine cowling and exhaust, Donaldson inlet-barrier filter and diffuser-vent filter and a Sagem eight-inch multifunction display for engine instruments.
Airwolf Aerospace has developed a new tension-torsion (TT) strap for Bell 206 JetRanger and 206L LongRanger helicopters and military variants, including the OH-58 Kiowa. The straps, manufactured under FAA parts manufacturer approval (PMA) regulations are on display here at the Airwolf booth (No. 3561).
The TT straps anchor each rotor blade to the mast while accommodating the multi-directional forces inherent in rotorcraft flight.
Bell 206B, Meeker, Colo., Nov. 3, 2010–The JetRanger was engaged in low-altitude pipeline inspection near unpowered suspended electrical wires, when witnesses saw it suddenly pitch nose down as the rotor system separated from the fuselage. The helicopter then crashed behind trees, killing the passenger and severely injuring the pilot. Two of the wires were found to be severed.