Bell 206B, Auberry, Calif., Jan. 5, 2010–The JetRanger, registered to Palm Springs Aviation and operated by the California Department of Fish and Game, was on a deer surveying flight in VMC when witnesses saw it flying through a valley spanned by power lines. As the helicopter approached the vicinity of the lines it was seen to “rear back” and immediately descend.
Over the last year, Van Horn Aviation (Booth No. 3409) has introduced new tail-rotor blades for the Bell 206 and 206L models that the company says significantly reduce noise, pedal forces and maintenance requirements and have a higher life limit than OEM blades. The new 206L tail-rotor blades received an FAA STC on February 8.
New technology is a main focus of Eurocopter at Heli-Expo 2010. At its booth (No. 3128) the company is showing rotor blade technologies designed to reduce noise and vibration, and an avionics technology that promises to improve pilot situational awareness and safety.
There are surprisingly active developments in the single-engine helicopter field, with new rotorcraft on the way such as the turbine-powered Robinson R66 and Sikorsky S-434. Kit manufacturer RotorWay is even coming to market with a planned certified turbine helicopter, the 300T Eagle, announced at last year’s EAA AirVenture show. The Russian Helicopters Mi-34S2 Sapsan will also offer turbine power.
Bell Helicopter’s XworX special projects and rapid prototyping center exists to give customers added value, according to Nick Lappos, senior vice president for XworX. Lappos says XworX can “be more agile and use non-traditional methods” for things such as blueprint release and purchasing to get the job done faster.
The prototype of the Eurocopter EC 175 made its “official maiden flight” on December 17, almost two weeks after its actual first flight on December 4 in Marignane, France. The flight-test phase is now well under way. The event, attended by customers, employees, suppliers and journalists, was also the opportunity for Eurocopter to highlight the cooperation with China’s Avicopter.
Eurocopter AS 350B2 Ecureuil, Loris, S.C., July 2, 2009–The AS 350 suffered substantial damage while landing to pick up a patient at a hospital helipad. The tail rotor struck a steel pole, causing vibration and forcing the pilot to land immediately and shut down.
Sikorsky Aircraft yesterday said it has begun whirl testing a demonstration rotor system with active flaps as part of the company’s “commitment to design, develop, test and ultimately field next-generation technologies that will advance the current state of rotorcraft.” Development partners on the project are United Technologies Research Center for the blades and Hamilton Sundstrand Claverham for the flap actuators.
The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has issued a special bulletin concerning the April 1 crash of a Eurocopter AS 332L2 Super Puma in the sea near Peterhead, Scotland. The investigation has determined that a failure within the epicyclic reduction gearbox module of the main rotor gearbox caused the rupture of the gearbox case, which allowed the main rotor head to separate from the helicopter.
Israel’s Urban Aeronautics is ground-testing its unmanned Mule fancraft, an unconventional rotorcraft featuring two shrouded main rotors in tandem configuration that should one day have a manned version for rescue missions in cities. The first untethered flight of the Mule, originally scheduled to take place in the spring, has been postponed until September or October.