A German photographer spotted a modified EC135 at Airbus Helicopters’ development facility in Donauwörth, Germany. Most striking is the light twin’s new horizontal empennage, moved to the top of the vertical fin.
Airbus Brazilian subsidiary Helibras recently held its second “Operational Safety Days,” filling São Paulo’s Anhembi Morumbi University auditorium to its 300-seat capacity. “We’ll need a bigger place next year,” Helibras safety manager Antonio Modesto told AIN, describing the helicopter safety event as “the realization of a personal dream” with full company support.
Russian Helicopters and Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies have started testing the Mi-171A2 helicopter with KBO-17 avionics. The first flights of the upgraded Mi-171 will take place in Moscow. The medium-twin helicopter features a five-display suite and an obstacle warning system. With the new system, the required crew is reduced to two. Certification, once slated for this year, has been postponed to 2015.
Australian company One Atmosphere was recently named this year’s winner of the Australian Defense Science and Technology Organization’s Eureka prize. The company received the honor for creating Pegasus, an emergency helicopter buoyancy system to prevent aircraft from sinking after ditching at sea. One Atmosphere said the lightweight Pegasus will quickly raise a 22,000-pound helicopter from a depth of 33 feet and keep it afloat for four hours.
Sikorsky Aircraft marked 75 years of modern helicopter flight that began Sept. 14, 1939, when 50-year-old chief designer and chief test pilot Igor Sikorsky lifted off the ground “to tabletop height” in an experimental helicopter designated the VS-300. That first flight began a four-year test program that “proved the efficiency of Sikorsky’s single-rotor design, gave birth to a global helicopter industry and forever changed the course of aviation history,” the company noted.
The operator of the Battersea Heliport in London warned authorities of the danger of flying helicopters near a Thames River construction site four years before an AgustaWestland AW109 collided with a building crane in the St. George Wharf development on Jan. 16, 2013, according to the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch. Cloud ceilings were low and visibility poor on the morning of the accident.
The NTSB is calling on the U.S. Coast Guard to work with the Interior Department to mitigate methane discharges from offshore energy platforms in the Gulf of Mexico when helicopters are present. The recommendation follows two power-loss incidents in helicopters that led to accidents, one in 2011 and the other last year, on or near offshore oil platforms.
To improve situational awareness and gather more specific data about helicopter movements and helicopter noise, the FAA is requesting that pilots of civil helicopters operating under VFR at or below 6,000 feet in the Los Angeles Basin squawk transponder code 1205 between September 1 and Feb. 27, 2015. Law enforcement and other first-responder helicopters have been asked to squawk 1206. However, both rotary- and fixed-wing pilots should continue to squawk 1201 when flying in the L.A. Special Flight Rules Corridor.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believes methane gas expelled from an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico caused the partial power failure on a Bell 206-L3 helicopter departing the MP61A platform on March 24, 2011. The pilot experienced the power failure at about 4:55 p.m., shortly after liftoff. The NTSB attributed the power loss to an engine compressor stall after it ingested methane gas during takeoff.
If Russian authorities permit open access to the airspace above Moscow to private and corporate helicopter operations, rotorcraft sales into Russia would increase by between 15 and 20 aircraft from the 2013 total of 28 units. This was the prediction of Airbus Helicopters’s Russian commercial director Artyom Fetisov, speaking at the Business Aviation Forum held September 3 in Moscow on the eve of the JetExpo show.
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