In two separate deals announced yesterday at Heli-Expo, global aircraft finance company Milestone Aviation Group signed orders for 16 Eurocopter EC225s and three Sikorsky S-92s. The Eurocopter order is valued at $480 million; terms of the Sikorsky contract were not disclosed. Deliveries of the EC225s are planned to start next year, with Milestone taking approximately three aircraft per year. In the Sikorsky deal, Milestone will take two S-92s in the second half of this year, with the third slated for delivery early next year.
HAI will present its Salute to Excellence Awards tonight in the categories of safety, maintenance, law enforcement, communications, flight instructor, pilot and Lifetime Achievement.
Olivier Andriès, who has been the CEO of Turbomeca since June, predicts that helicopter engines will become fuel-electric hybrids around 2030. He also predicted that, in about 20 years, conventional turbine engine performance will be close to an asymptote. By that, he meant further improvement of turbine technology will be enormously difficult and expensive, if not impossible. So the next step will be hybridization, he said. “We will see integrated propulsion systems using thermodynamic and electric solutions,” he told AIN.
A Eurocopter EC225, operated by CHC for Statoil from the Deepsea Bergen drilling rig to Kristiansund, made a controlled emergency landing at another Norwegian sea platform, Åsgard B, on January 12. The pilots had been alerted to a pressure loss in the left hydraulic system. The helicopter remained in motion after landing due to the lack of wheel braking power but was stabilized. The 19 passengers evacuated through the emergency exit.
Eurocopter unveiled improved performance numbers for its EC175 medium twin, a 15,000-pound-class helicopter aimed at the offshore oil and gas market. With 16 passengers, the radius of action has been increased from 90 nm to 135 nm. Meanwhile, the Marignane, France-based manufacturer is developing an 18-passenger configuration, which can be made possible thanks to the helicopter’s 433-cu-ft cabin. The move was likely prompted by the launch last June of the AgustaWestland AW189, which is in the 16- to 18-seat category.
Offshore oil and gas operator CHC Helicopter has ordered 20 Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma medium twins and taken options on four more, with deliveries scheduled for 2012 to 2016.
Eurocopter released details late in April about the development of the seven-metric-ton-class EC175 twin, confirming plans for type certification this year but clarifying that a complementary certification for the offshore oil-and-gas configuration is expected by the middle of next year. This configuration has features such as emergency flotation gear, life rafts, radio navigation system and dual FMS, Tcas II and air conditioning.
Eurocopter’s new North Sea Service Centre at Aberdeen in the northeast of Scotland is the blueprint for the manufacturer’s concerted effort to locate product support and training infrastructure as close as possible to operators of its aircraft. The new facility was officially opened on February 1 and the company is advancing plans for similar developments in the U.S., Asia and South America.
China not only wants to be the world’s largest consumer of helicopters, it intends to be the largest producer. This is a lofty goal for a country that had less than 100 civil-use helicopters five years ago. Yet as early as 2000, executives who ran China’s state-owned aviation companies predicted that the country would be one of the foremost helicopter manufacturers by 2030.
Overblown oil prices are far from good news for most of the aviation industry, but the world’s insatiable thirst for fuel is spurring fresh demand for helicopters to serve offshore exploration and production activity. So it was a logical choice for Eurocopter to select Aberdeen in the northeast of Scotland as its first major initiative to bring rotorcraft product support and training infrastructure closer to its operators.