A preliminary NTSB accident report released last week provided details of the March 18 crash of a Eurocopter AS350 in Seattle. The pilot and the photographer aboard the helicopter were killed when it spun out of control shortly after lifting off from a TV station’s helipad near the downtown Space Needle tower. One person on the ground was seriously burned after the crash set his vehicle on fire near the crash site.
An emergency airworthiness directive, effective immediately–AD 2013-12-06–was issued March 24 covering Airbus Helicopters legacy models MBB BK117A-3, BK117A-4, BK117B-1 and BK117C-2 that use a Metro Aviation vapor-cycle air conditioning kit pulley. Affected aircraft use pulley number 30001 installed in accordance with supplemental type certificate SH3880SW, which now requires immediate inspection of the drive pulley for looseness and properly installed lock wires and reinstallation of the pulley.
Operators of helicopters in the UK sector of the North Sea will soon have to provide extra safety equipment or be forced to carry fewer passengers on each flight. Under new Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules taking effect June 1, operators can carry passengers only in seats immediately adjacent to emergency exit windows unless they install extra flotation devices or improved emergency breathing systems (EBS). The UK’s helicopter safety steering group estimates the new rule could reduce North Sea fleet seating capacity by about 40 percent.
The NTSB has begun trying to learn what caused the pilot of a Eurocopter AS350B2 to lose control of the newsgathering rotorcraft moments after liftoff from a TV station helipad in downtown Seattle on March 18. The pilot and a TV station photographer were killed in the accident.
The Flight Safety Foundation’s Business Aviation Safety Summit (BASS) begins April 16 in San Diego, Calif. Confirmed speakers include Sergei Sikorsky, former vice president of Sikorsky Aircraft; and Chuck Aaron, chief helicopter pilot and director of maintenance with Red Bull.
NTSB investigators are examining the tail-rotor drive assembly following the fatal crash of a 2003 Airbus Helicopters AS350B2–registered as N250FB–that plunged from its sixth-floor helipad to a Seattle street on Tuesday morning. Pilot Gary Pfitzner, 59, and cameraman Bill Strothman, 62, were killed in the crash, and a person on the ground was seriously injured.
Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has now awarded prime contracts to all four participating companies to begin Phase 1 development for the agency’s VTOL X-Plane program. Boeing and Karem Aircraft received contracts this week, to join Aurora Flight Sciences and Sikorsky. While all four have submitted proposals for unmanned vehicles, the technology that is to be developed has equal application to manned VTOL aircraft.
Earlier this month Russian Helicopters delivered the 3,500th helicopter of the Mil Mi-17 series. Assembled at the Kazan Helicopters plant, the machine is one of 151 that India has ordered. However, at the same time, tensions with Ukraine are threatening the supply of engines.
Sandel Avionics received multi-model STC approval from the FAA for its helicopter terrain awareness and warning system, HeliTaws. The approved model list (AML) STC for Part 27 and Part 29 helicopters allows models to be added progressively by updating the AML listing, provided similarity and differences are substantiated. Sandel’s ST3400H Part 27 AML-STC covers the Airbus Helicopters AS350 series, while the Part 29 approval is for Bell 412s. It is working on adding the Bell 206 and 212 series, as well as the Airbus Helicopters EC130.
Bell Helicopter secured orders and purchase commitments for 196 new helicopters from customers during Heli-Expo, which was held last week in Anaheim, Calif. This number includes more than 170 letters of intent for Bell’s circa-$1 million light single helicopter, the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X, that was formally unveiled at the show.