With dry ice, bright lights, loud music, CEO Lutz Bertling in the cockpit and four glamorous passengers in the cabin wearing helmets and flight suits, Eurocopter rolled out its newest helicopter here at Heli-Expo shortly after the convention opened today (watch video).
Eurocopter is believed to be working on an improved EC145–possibly to be designated the EC146, if recent trademark filings are any clue–featuring a fenestron shrouded tail rotor and Fadec-controlled engines. Aircraft spotter photographs reveal the light twin is already in flight test. An industry source told AIN that customers have been clamoring for Fadec since the commercial launch of the EC145 program.
The lobbying association for the French helicopter industry, the Union Française de l’Hélicoptère (UFH), is raising concerns about gestating noise rules that could practically ban commercial flights from urban areas. The association fears legislators are writing such a rule with input only from heli- port neighbors, some of whom are members of anti-helicopter associations.
Blue is the new green. Prompted by environmental concerns–regulatory and otherwise– Eurocopter took advantage of the Heli-Expo platform to formally launch its Bluecoptor program.
Bluecopter first emerged from a demonstrator EC120 modified to use a “high compression” diesel engine instead of the usual 504-shp Turbomeca Arrius turboshaft engine. The helicopter OEM is expecting a 40-percent reduction in fuel consumption.
The greater Las Vegas area has the highest and most competitive concentration of helicopter tour operators in the U.S. They have traditionally survived with heavy discounting, under-the-table commissions paid to tour bookers and concierges, low pay, high employee turnover and aging aircraft.
The Eurocopter EC 145 is carving a growing niche among EMS helicopter operators for one main reason: cabin space. The EC 145 features 213 cu ft of cabin space and 50.8 sq ft of tracked flat floor space with enough room, in a pinch, for two patient litters and three medical attendants.
In aviation, like most other industries, success breeds regulation. The bigger an industry becomes, the more the government perceives the need to regulate it, often citing reasons such as safety, unfair competition and environmental protection. Yet, in typical Darwinian fashion, most industries adapt–or die. In aviation, hush kits quiet noisier jet engines, airplanes are made RVSM compatible and helicopters are flown neighborly.
Helicopter manufacturers are exploring a number of technologies to reduce noise, both that perceived from the ground and inside the cabin. European manufacturers are working on several demonstration programs to reduce noise by changing the helicopter’s airframe dynamics.
In the peek-a-boo world of Russian rotorcrafting (now you see the program, now you don’t), plans have been announced to finally go ahead with the Kamov Ka-62, a civil adaptation of the Ka-60 “Kasatka” military helo. An earlier attempt to market a civil variant of this 14,330-lb-mtow rotorcraft was abandoned some years ago. Now the president of the Russian Federation’s Far Eastern Federal Okrug (roughly analogous to a U.S.
Guimbal Hélicoptères has plans to take on the ubiquitous R22 in the training market. The company, launched by a former Eurocopter employee, has made headway, having secured orders from several European companies, including Eurocopter.