Frank Robinson, the 74-year-old firm-handed founder, chairman and president of Robinson Helicopter, says that as long as he’s sitting behind the big desk he’ll do exactly what he pleases. What pleases him? “Keeping it simple,” he explained, “and when I retire or die, whoever takes my place, hopefully, keeps that long-standing philosophy of mine alive.”
The first production Eurocopter EC 225 medium twin made its maiden flight in late June. Eurocopter said the “flawless” event lasted just over two hours. The EC 225 is powered by two Turbomeca Makila 2A modular turboshafts, an engine that has just been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Each of the powerplants generates 2,413 shp in contingency mode–14 percent more than the previous model.
Eurocopter’s EC 135 helicopter continues to find a welcome among emergency operators. At the Farnborough Air Show, the manufacturer reported orders for better than one EC 135 helicopter per week on average as operators bought the light twin-engine helicopter in record numbers. Last month alone, operators bought 14 EC 135s, and total deliveries to date exceed 340.
Eurocopter AS 350B3, Yellow Pine, Idaho, Aug. 13, 2006–The NTSB determined that the U.S. Forest Service contract pilot’s intentional low-altitude flight and his failure to maintain an adequate altitude to clear the trees was the cause of the crash of the AS 350, which killed all four on board.
Eurocopter AS 350B3, San Elizario, Texas, May 22, 2007–The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air Operations AS 350 was destroyed when it crashed after a loss of control while maneuvering on a routine border patrol mission. The crash site was about 15 miles southeast of El Paso International Airport. The commercial pilot was killed and his observer was seriously injured.
Eurocopter announced recently that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified the EC 145 for civil night-vision goggle (NVG) operations, and in doing so, according to Eurocopter, making it the first OEM to offer commercial helicopter NVG capabilities from the factory. Various retrofits have been available to operators for a number of years.
Eurocopter will install flight training devices, including six-axis, full-motion simulators for the EC 135 light twin, at its Donauwörth, Germany, and Dallas training facilities. Installation work should take place in the last quarter; certification is pegged for March, to JAR-STD2H level 3 and FAA Part 60 FTD level 6 standards. The simulators are being developed by CAE and Indra in cooperation with Eurocopter.
Eurocopter and Abu Dhabi-based Falcon Aviation Services (FAS) have jointly launched a regional maintenance center to provide maintenance and overhaul services in the Gulf region for the company’s helicopters. Eurocopter conducted a technical audit at
FAS’ facilities in April. Simultaneously with signing the agreement, FAS ordered two EC 130s and two AS 365 N3 Dauphins.
Eurocopter has launched a 50,000-sq-ft extension of its customization, subassembly and maintenance facility at Mexico City International Airport. In addition, in May the European manufacturer signed three training agreements in the country. The first, with the Mexican Polytechnical Institute, creates a course in aeronautical engineering for helicopters.
Eurocopter is investigating all-electric helicopter system architectures, including flight controls, with the goal of having them in service within 10 years. The Marignane, France-based manufacturer clearly intends to substitute electricity for current sources of energy for systems, such as hydraulics. The change is likely to result in lower maintenance costs and improved handling qualities.