Television images last May of Saudi commandos dropping from a Kawasaki-Vertol KV 107IIA helicopter in a dramatic rooftop assault to free hostages from terrorists has underscored the importance of rotary-wing aircraft to Middle Eastern governments. The current heightened security state, with its emphasis on anti-terrorist operations, has made helicopters the airborne assets of choice for close-in, fast-reaction operations.
The TV news might have focused on the contributions of military rotary-wing aircraft– notably hoist-fitted UH-60 Black Hawks from the National Guard and Jayhawks from the U.S. Coast Guard–in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but commercial helicopters also played an influential and in many cases heroic role in the unfolding drama.
At press time, FAA certification of the Bell 210, a single-turbine medium helicopter derived from the military UH-1H Huey, was imminent. Bell Helicopter begins with a refurbished UH-1H fuselage and adds Bell 212 dynamic components and an FAA-certified Honeywell T53-517B turboshaft engine. The result is a zero-time, commercial off-the-shelf helicopter with a useful load of 5,000 pounds.
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