Spirits were high and attendance reached a healthy 15,243 at Heli-Expo’10, held February 21 to 23 in Houston. The number of exhibitors, 596, was higher than last year, and this year’s attendance was the third highest in Heli-Expo history, underscoring the helicopter industry’s assertion that the diversity of the markets it serves has moderated the effects of the recession.
Alberta, Canada-based Eagle Copters has an impressive engine modification to show Bell 407 pilots, operators and owners at Heli-Expo 2010. Dubbed the “Eagle 407 HP,” the popular, single-turbine helicopter sports a 1,021-shp Honeywell HTS900 engine. Though still to be flight tested and certified, the engine upgrade has the promise of providing the popular model with the power it needs for improved operations at higher altitudes.
A Bell 407, highly customized for air medical operations, is the centerpiece of United Rotorcraft Solutions’ Heli-Expo Booth (No. 1617). It features Chelton synthetic vision and is provisioned for a Chelton autopilot. The completion by the Decatur, Texas, systems integrator is one of two 407s configured for Halo-Flight of Corpus Christi.
Metro Aviation has earned FAA Part 145 repair station status to perform maintenance and repair on Bell 407s. With this latest certification, the Shreveport, La.-based company continues to diversify the helicopters approved under a long-standing repair station authorization. Metro has finished several new Bell 407s both for air medical and corporate customers and the company has contracts for completions of the aircraft through next year.
Following Transport Canada certification and FAA validation of the Bell 429 in July, Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas, delivered the first aircraft, S/N 57006, to launch customer Air Methods on August 1. The current Bell 429 fleet (two prototypes, three flight test and two customer aircraft) has accumulated more than 2,200 hours.
Bell Helicopter has announced plans to reduce the environmental footprint of its products through the new Eco-Innovation initiative that will evaluate them throughout every stage of their lifecycle. The process will start with an assessment of the environmental impact of mining the raw materials used to manufacture the aircraft right through to the end of their service life.
Engine manufacturers Honeywell and Rolls-Royce expressed tempered optimism about the helicopter marketplace at February’s Heli-Expo, where each released its annual industry forecast. Both predicted a dip in deliveries and offered caveats reflecting the precarious state of the economy.
Helicopter sales and services company Hillsboro Aviation (Booth No. 3568) announced a record-setting year for its helicopter sales department. Sales of both new and used helicopters topped $66 million in 2008, including four new Bell 412EPs, five new Bell 407s, two new Bell 206L4s and seven new Robinson R44s.
Honeywell’s annual market forecast for civil turbine-powered helicopters released Saturday is still predicting flat to slightly higher deliveries between 2009 and 2013 compared to the previous five-year period, but there are caveats aplenty.
Honeywell Engines comes to Heli-Expo with five turboshaft models ranging in age from venerable to brand-new and in power from 1,000 shp to 5,000.