Swiss-based simulation specialist Elite is now offering a helicopter flight-training device (FTD). Elite exhibited the S623, based on the Eurocopter AS 350, for the first time at the Heli Trade show in Geneva.
The first edition of the International Heli Trade helicopter show in Geneva last month seems to have met exhibitors’ expectations. Visitors and organizers alike, however, may have been disappointed by the absence of such major manufacturers as Robinson and Eurocopter. But the conference program was rich and, from the first roundtable, it proved a good opportunity for operators to express their needs and concerns.
The Department of Homeland Security has awarded American Eurocopter a contract to supply no fewer than 56 EC 120s to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. The value of the award, over the five-year term of the contract, is potentially $75 million.
India scrapped a $600 million deal with Eurocopter for 197 AS 550 Fennec light helicopters. Last February, the Indian Army chose the AS 550 to replace its large fleet of Cheetah and Cheetak light helicopters, in preference to the Bell 407. But the selection process was controversial, and Eurocopter was accused of illegal use of agents to influence the deal.
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.