There were some surprises in the new-helicopter department at the Helicopter Association International’s Heli-Expo show, held during the last week of February, but the big news this year was the crop of orders, especially from helicopter leasing companies.
Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services North America (HS-NA) has signed a five-year exclusive MRO support contract with air-tour operator Sunshine Helicopters of Kahulu, Maui. The agreement will cover Sunshine Helicopters’ Arriel 1 and Arriel 2 engines, and Airbus AS350, AS355 and EC130 dynamic components.
“This support agreement solidifies Vector’s commitment to Sunshine to provide MRO support for its fleet of Airbus Helicopters tour aircraft,” said Eric Hicks, regional sales director at HS-NA.
Sandel Avionics received multi-model STC approval from the FAA for its helicopter terrain awareness and warning system, HeliTaws. The approved model list (AML) STC for Part 27 and Part 29 helicopters allows models to be added progressively by updating the AML listing, provided similarity and differences are substantiated. Sandel’s ST3400H Part 27 AML-STC covers the Airbus Helicopters AS350 series, while the Part 29 approval is for Bell 412s. It is working on adding the Bell 206 and 212 series, as well as the Airbus Helicopters EC130.
Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services North America (Vector HS-NA) has introduced new services at its facility in Richmond, B.C., Canada, covering the Airbus Helicopters AS350, AS355 and EC130B4. A factory-approved maintenance and repair center, Vector HS-NA offers 12-year inspection service as well as structural repair capability on canopies, floors and aft structural assemblies, tail booms and vertical stabilizers. Also available are full component overhauls on Arriel 1 and Arriel 2 turboshafts, including lease and exchange engines.
Vector Aerospace has announced several new maintenance agreements for its Helicopter Services-North America (HS-NA) subsidiary. The rotorcraft MRO services company has signed a two-year agreement with Brazilian MRO provider Helipark to provide repair and overhaul support for the Turbomeca Arriel 1 and Rolls-Royce M250 engines. Vector plans to open a new 29,000-sq-ft MRO facility in Jacarei, Brazil this year, as part of an initiative to grow its South American customer base.
Airbus Helicopters plans to progressively equip all its models with a cockpit imaging and flight data monitoring (FDM) system, in a bid to improve safety with an affordable system. All 181 AS350 AStar/Ecureuil light singles delivered last year were equipped with the device, developed with Appareo Systems (Booth No. 329). Next in line for the FDM installation are the EC130T2 light single and the EC135 light twin.
Airbus Helicopters will kick off opening day of Heli-Expo 2014 with a pair of major order announcements. Lease Corporation International (LCI) aviation CEO Mike Platt and executive chairman Crispin Maunder will join Airbus Helicopters president Guillaume Faury at 11 a.m. to announce an order for EC175 and EC225 utility helicopters. The manufacturer will also announce a six-frame follow-on EC175 order from Belgian aviation services provider NHV.
Known primarily in the rotorcraft segment for its flight data management (FDM) products, Appareo Systems returns to Heli-Expo this year with a series of customer events and presentations planned throughout the show, including demonstrations of its Stratus 2 wireless automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B IN) receiver.
Air Methods, the largest helicopter EMS operator in the U.S., is expanding its international operations, growing its heli-tourism division and has expanded its fixed-wing operations into jet ambulances.
The rarefied offshore energy market continues to be the prime driver for development of new civil helicopters, but the training and entry-level market is also heating up, with Bell and others announcing or hinting at new models. Various studies predict that worldwide civil helicopter production will double between now and 2020 in terms of overall sales value as OEMs focus on delivering larger and more expensive helicopters.
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