Eurocopter AStar AS 350B3, Apache Junction, Ariz., Dec. 14, 2004–Eurocopter N971AE was destroyed when it crashed while landing in a Safeway supermarket parking lot. A flight nurse was killed and the commercial pilot and a medical crewmember were seriously injured. The Air-Evac II flight was landing to pick up a patient. The police and fire department had cleared the area and told the pilot about obstructions.
Advanced human-machine interfaces now making their debut on business jets are finding their way into helicopter cockpits.
The year since Heli-Expo 2004 has not been a bad one for the helicopter industry, all things considered. The industry put on a confident face at Heli-Expo in March last year, with companies logging a record number of deals at the show. Bell announced its intention to claw back market share from Eurocopter and within 48 hours had taken walk-up orders for 11 copies of the just-launched IFR version of its 427 light twin.
Chelton Flight Systems has received FAA STC approval to install its FlightLogic synthetic-vision EFIS in several models of the Eurocopter AS 350 AStar and AS 355 TwinStar and the Bell 407.
Eurocopter last year secured orders for 401 new civil/parapublic and military helicopters, up from 322 in 2004. Valued at E3.52 billion ($4.22 billion), the orders represent a year-on-year hike of 10 percent. Civil and parapublic helicopters accounted for 46 percent of the value.
Eurocopter AS 350BA, Panamint Spring, Calif., Dec. 30, 2004–The NTSB blamed the accident, which occurred during the filming of a car commercial, on “the pilot’s misjudged lateral distance from a mountainside and failure to maintain an adequate clearance from terrain and obstacles while performing a low-altitude filming maneuver.” During the filming in Death Valley National Park, the AS 350’s main rotor blades hit a mountain.
Eurocopter AS 350-B2, Nuiqsut, Alaska, Aug. 21, 2006–The commercial pilot of the AS 350, the sole occupant, was killed when it crashed into a lake in marginal and deteriorating weather conditions.
Maybe it was pent-up demand. Maybe it was part of a desire to party before the war. Maybe times aren’t as hard as the pundits say they are. No matter the reason, this year’s staging of the Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo was a success far beyond anyone’s expectations.
McAlpine Helicopters is now owned entirely by Eurocopter, which has renamed the company Eurocopter UK. Eurocopter previously held 10 percent of the Oxford-based distributor. Eurocopter UK provides various services, including maintenance, repair and overhaul, to civil and military customers in the UK
Archrivals AgustaWestland and Eurocopter will join forces on a major environmental research program that will include integration technology demonstrators (ITDs) for a greener helicopter. The project–part of the larger E1.6 billion ($2.2 billion) Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative–is expected to yield innovations such as smart blades for the main rotor and electric drive for the tail rotor.