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.
The pilot of a Eurocopter EC130 helicopter said she was on day-visual approach to Nevada’s Boulder City Municipal Airport when the engine flamed out on a post-maintenance flight. In the January 1 incident, the aircraft was still 200 feet in the air when a “low fuel pressure” indicator light illuminated followed by the engine shutting down. The pilot attempted an autorotation but didn’t have enough forward speed to complete the maneuver. The tailboom hit the ground first followed by the main skids, which quickly separated from the airframe, resulting in substantial damage.
Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services North America (HS-NA), a subsidiary of Vector Aerospace, has signed a five-year, exclusive MRO support contract with Blackcomb Aviation, a privately owned helicopter and jet charter company.
The largest helicopter EMS provider in the U.S. is continuing its foray into the air-tour business. Air Methods has acquired Blue Hawaiian helicopters for an undisclosed sum. Blue Hawaiian flies a mixed fleet of 24 Eurocopter EC130s and AS350s and operates tours on five of Hawaii’s six islands. Last year it posted revenues of $47 million.
The widow of a Blue Hawaiian pilot killed in the crash of a company Eurocopter EC130B4 in November 2011 has filed a suit against the air-tour operator and the helicopter’s manufacturer, citing product defects. Pilot Nathan Cline and four passengers were killed when the helicopter crashed on Molokai during a sightseeing flight. Witnesses at an elementary school near the crash site reported heavy rain squalls at the time of the accident.
Marenco Swisshelicopter unveiled the first prototype of its all-composite SKYe SH09 light single helicopter on Thursday at Mollis Airport in Switzerland. First flight is expected early next year and production should start in 2015, the company said.
Targeting the higher end of the light single segment, the SH09 features a carbon-fiber airframe, a five-blade main rotor to cut vibration and a 1,020-shp Honeywell HTS900-2 turboshaft. A compact instrument panel and extended transparencies afford the helicopter exceptional visibility for the crew and passengers, Marenco said.
Air Methods, the largest helicopter EMS provider in the U.S., continued its foray into the air-tour business last week when it signed an agreement to acquire Blue Hawaiian Helicopters for an undisclosed sum. Blue Hawaiian operates a mixed fleet of 24 Eurocopter EC130s and AS350s and operates tours on five of Hawaii’s six islands. Blue Hawaiian posted revenues of $47 million in 2012.
A2B Heli Maintenance, an EASA Part 145 independent commercial helicopter maintenance company, has formally opened its doors at London Oxford Airport. A2B Heli chose London Oxford as an expanding business aviation airport with close links to co-owned Barclays London Heliport in Battersea (20 minutes’ flying time from Oxford) and other strong transport links.
India’s small-but-strategic South Asian neighbors, including Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, will procure around 30 helicopters in different categories in the next five years, according to an internal study conducted by Sikorsky.
While Indian military helicopter procurement plans are for more than 1,000 helicopters by 2020, including light utility, attack, Mi-17 medium transport, heavy-lift and multi-role platforms, even as its GDP grew by over 6 percent last year, Bangladesh has the largest budget for procurement in the Indian periphery.