Composite rotor blade manufacturer Van Horn Aviation (VHA; Booth No. 7129) of Tempe, Ariz. is showcasing the company’s Bell 206 main rotor blade development project. This program is aimed at creating a replacement for the metal blades in legacy 206 models, starting with the 206B3 JetRanger. The JetRanger that will serve as the program’s test bed is on display at the company’s booth. “Our goal is to have the 206B3 blade certified by the end of this year,” VHA president James Van Horn told AIN.
Raisbeck Engineering is now offering its swept-blade propellers for all King Air C90-series turboprop twins. Deliveries of the new blades, which sweep on both the leading and trailing edges, will begin in January. Blade quarter-chord sweep has been increased to 30 degrees at its outer diameter, and the propeller diameter has been lengthened by six inches, to 96 inches.
The FAA proposes to supersede an existing airworthiness directive for the Robinson R22, R22 Alpha, R22 Beta, R22 Mariner, R44 and R44 II with certain main rotor blades. The existing AD currently requires inspecting each blade at the skin-to-spar line for debonding, corrosion, a separation, a gap or a dent and replacing any damaged blade with an airworthy blade.
American Eurocopter’s blade shop in Grand Prairie, Texas, is a busy place. The 20 craftsmen repair and refurbish 1,000 helicopter main and tail rotor blades every year. That translates into 95 percent of all Eurocopter blade work in the U.S.
Much of the work is done by hand. “It is a slow process,” acknowledges shop manager Jim Tully. “It would be nice if we could find a way to go faster, but it has to be done the same way. With fiberglass, it wouldn’t take long to scrap out a blade completely” if a mistake were made.
The aero-acoustic geometry fan blades, fan case and several other parts of CFM International’s Leap engine series will be the first major engine application of a new technology, 3-D woven composites. The process was pioneered by Albany Engineering Composites (AEC), a U.S. company that has teamed with CFM parent company Snecma and has granted the French engine maker exclusivity for its process (for propulsion applications) for the life of the Leap program.
MD Helicopters today at Heli-Expo unveiled a new composite main rotor blade for the MD500F, co-developed with Van Horn Aviation of Tempe, Ariz. The blade is projected to increase internal gross weight from 3,100 pounds to at least 3,350 pounds, lower operating costs, reduce acoustical noise signature, decrease fuel burn and have three times the life of the metal blade currently certified for the aircraft (10,000 hours versus 3,430 hours).
Bell 206L-3, Abilene, Texas, March 29, 2009–The NTSB determined the fatigue crack in the trailing edge of a main rotor blade was caused by interconnected porosity and resulting corrosion resulting from an undetected manufacturing defect. During a post-flight inspection following a flight in turbulence, the pilot noted the crack in the blade.
Van Horn Associates (Booth No, 2012) said it completed flight testing of a new composite carbon fiber spar and skin tail rotor blade for the Bell 206B earlier this month. The company reports that the new blade increases high-altitude hover performance and decreases required pedal pressure compared to the original equipment blades. Van Horn estimates that fatigue and acoustic testing on the new blade will be completed by early summer.
In the wake of an emergency AD demanding main-rotor blade inspections on the entire Sikorsky S-76 fleet (see page 6), Sikorsky issued a statement in which it concurred with the findings of the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB)–that the fatal July 16 crash of a Bristow S-76A+ into the North Sea, resulting in the deaths of nine passengers and two pilots, was caused by a lightning strike suffered by one of the helicopter’s main rotor
Less than two weeks after the July 16 crash of a Bristow Sikorsky S-76A+ (G-BJVX) that killed all 11 passengers and crew when the helicopter apparently lost a main rotor blade and plummeted into the waters of the North Sea, the FAA issued an emergency AD covering all S-76As, -Bs, and -Cs.
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