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.
Preliminary Report: Hard Landing Damages AStar
Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison wants more “national investment” to develop advanced rotorcraft to keep U.S. OEMs globally competitive.
Speaking at the Aero Club of Washington on July 29, Garrison noted, “Industry investment, coupled with a regulatory environment that keeps pace with innovation, will go a long way to meeting the growing demands [for helicopters]. But the final component of innovation is national investment and a sustained investment in technology.”
Is the honeymoon over for Airbus Helicopters and big innovation? Despite the news that the company will build a successor to the X3 compound demonstrator by 2019 (see AIN, August, page 57), Guillaume Faury (who was appointed CEO 16 months ago) seems to have a more cautious approach than his predecessor, Lutz Bertling, and some signs suggest the OEM will scale back its forays into brave new territory.
Internet-age companies are forging ahead with plans to incorporate small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—better known as drones—in their commercial operations. On August 28, Internet search engine and services company Google revealed that it is developing a drone delivery service and has already tested a prototype aircraft.
Boeing won a $9.36 million contract modification from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) to refine its concept for a radically improved vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft to the preliminary design review stage. Three other contractors have proposed concepts for the program.
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