The Eurocopter X3 hybrid made its record-breaking speed run just 10 days before the opening of the Paris Air Show, so it was not surprising that the EADS company brought both the unique aircraft and its crew to the Le Bourget biennial event. On June 7, the X3 flew at 255 knots in level flight and 263 knots in a dive, besting the previous record set by the Sikorsky X2 in September 2010 (250 knots level and 260 knots in descent).
European aerospace behemoth EADS has aligned its brand with its aircraft manufacturing division to become simply Airbus Group, and is also applying the Airbus brand to its two other main divisions. Thus, Eurocopter will become Airbus Helicopters, and the defense and space divisions, Cassidian and Astrium, will be merged into one unit–Airbus Defence and Space–representing the third division.
The EASA approved the interim solution–a combination of vibration monitoring, inspections and part modification–that Eurocopter devised for the EC225 to address main gearbox (MGB) lubrication issues after the type experienced two controlled ditchings last year. The manufacturer’s fix is intended to reduce the likelihood of an undetected crack, leading to in-flight rupture and ditching, to one per billion flight hours. At issue is the bevel gear vertical shaft, a part that is critical to main gearbox lubrication.
Milestone Aviation Group, the helicopter leasing firm headed by NetJets founder Richard Santulli, closed a new $300 million credit facility yesterday. The company will use these proceeds to acquire and lease helicopters–including Sikorsky S-92s, Eurocopter EC225s and AgustaWestland AW189s and AW139s–valued at $400 million to affiliates of Bristow Group. The credit facility is the largest ever for a helicopter lessor, the company said.
The first of some 80 EC225 helicopters subject to a series of airworthiness directives to address main gearbox lubrication issues will start resuming flight operations by the end of July, Eurocopter confirmed.
Eurocopter demonstrated new automated landing procedures relying on Egnos (Europe’s Waas equivalent) satellite guidance. Part of Europe’s Clean Sky research project, the tests were performed on an EC155 medium twin. They showed significant reductions in the helicopter’s perceived sound footprint, the company said. The noise-abatement flightpaths were compatible with IFR operations and can be tailored to local requirements.
The German defense ministry ordered 15 Eurocopter EC645T2 light utility helicopters worth €194 million. They will be used by the Kommando Spezialkraefte, Germany’s Special Forces Command. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in late 2015 and run through mid-2017.
The French Army is expected to confirm an option for 34 more Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) versions of the NH Industries NH-90 helicopter, when the 2013 French defense spending program is published shortly. The French have already bought 34 TTHs, as well as 27 NATO Frigate Helicopters (NFHs).
The EASA has approved the interim solution Eurocopter devised to address concerns about main-gearbox lubrication on the EC225 after two controlled ditchings last year.
The manufacturer is using vibration monitoring, inspections and part modification to prevent the possibility of an undetected crack leading to in-flight rupture of the bevel gear vertical shaft–a part that is critical to main gearbox lubrication.
The FAA proposes a new airworthiness directive for the Eurocopter EC135P1, EC135P2, EC135P2+, EC135T1, EC135T2 and EC135T2+. It requires analyzing the main gearbox (MGB) oil for indications of metal chips or pieces, reviewing the MGB log or equivalent record, and inspecting certain teeth in the MGB after two chip indications.