Eurocopter’s “all-weather helicopter” (AWH) demonstrator has flown from the manufacturer’s headquarters in Marignane, France. The proof-of-concept aircraft is an EC 155B fitted with systems that are expected to manage 3-D flight plans, help avoid collisions with terrain or obstacles, de-ice the airframe and allow the helicopter to perform steep approaches in zero visibility.
ATA Execujet’s new fixed-wing Part 135 operation is likely to succeed, if its rotorcraft Part 135 operations are any indication. The company’s helicopter fleet currently includes a Eurocopter AS 355 TwinStar, Bell JetRanger and Bell LongRanger. The department also manages a Bell 407 for a private owner. Three rotorcraft pilots share the approximately 1,200 hours of flying time per year.
As the vertical lift industry convenes in Dallas next month (February 9 to 11) for the 55th HAI Heli-Expo trade show and meeting, it is a dazed and uncertain business beset by flat markets, rising (often ruinous) insurance rates, a growing shortage of rotorcraft pilots and mechanics and a soft overall economy.
Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) has admitted to the beginning of studies intended to result in a new family of light turbine engines derived from the basic PW200 core and intended to power an as-yet unannounced family of new light helos.
Last year in Toulouse, France, Eurocopter completed two series of tests that demonstrated the feasibility of satellite-navigation precision approaches for helicopters. Europe, which lags behind the U.S. in creating satnav nonprecision approaches for helicopters, has almost completed some research toward addressing that imbalance.
Since EASA certified the first night-vision image system on a civil helicopter (see AIN, September 2007), several European operators have expressed interest in or have started to adopt night-vision goggles (NVGs). Eurocopter reports it has begun testing for a German operator. No doubt, newcomers will draw from the experiences of two major European rescue operators–Sécurité Civile and Rega.
The civil night-vision goggle market is booming for emergency medical service (EMS) and law enforcement applications, but significant regulatory barriers could limit new entrants into the market and restrict the export of the most popular NVGs.
In addition to repairing its 10,000th rotor blade at its Grand Prairie, Texas shop, American Eurocopter announced that it will open its first regional service center, one of several it plans to launch within the U.S. The West Coast Regional Service Center is to be located at the Long Beach Airport in the Daugherty Skyharbor Complex.
Turbomeca’s subsidiary CGTM, known primarily as the engine manufacturer’s flight-test center, plans to offer a new air filter for the Eurocopter AS 350 Ecureuil. Developed jointly with filtration specialist Pall Aerospace, the air filter should be certified by early next year. Pau, southwest-France-based CGTM plans to certify the new air filter even for inadvertent flight into icing conditions.
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.