The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) says in a December 2013 report that a manufacturing defect by Bell Helicopter caused eight feet of a 206L LongRanger’s main rotor blades to separate in flight on Nov. 2, 2011. The pilot and two passengers were killed when the aircraft, operated by Sunrise Helicopters, subsequently crashed shortly after takeoff from Kapuskasing in Ontario.
A UK inquiry into the April 2009 fatal crash of a Eurocopter AS332L2 Super Puma in the North Sea begins today in Aberdeen, Scotland. Operated by Bond Helicopters, the rotorcraft suffered a main rotor gearbox failure and crashed into the sea off the Aberdeenshire coast while returning from an oil platform. The accident killed the two pilots and all 14 passengers aboard.
A new heliport is set to open this month in the Dallas suburb of DeSoto, Texas. Construction on the $5 million, 19-acre facility began last March and will include 25,000 sq ft of heated hangar space to accommodate 50 helicopters and more than an acre of concrete ramp. The 12,000 sq ft of terminal and office space will house businesses such as flight training providers, emergency medical services, law enforcement, charter and ENG operations. Jet-A and avgas will be available 24 hours a day from self-serve fuel islands.
The Australian Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA) is voicing concerns about national rule harmonization with international standards–changes that the AHIA warns could bring major additional costs but little safety improvement. Among the changes is a proposed fatigue management philosophy that could call for hiring an extra crew at an IFR/NVIS helicopter base, and thus increase a Bell 412’s hourly rate by an estimated 25 percent. Another worry has been proposed legislation that bans piston-powered helicopters from populous areas.
The FAA is reissuing and revising a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SW-08-03R4) covering recommendations for rotorcraft powered by turboshaft engines flying into snowy or icy conditions. The SAIB describes procedures to reduce the probability of an uncommanded in-flight engine shutdown due to snow and/or ice ingestion and reminds operators that most helicopters are not approved/equipped for flight into icing conditions.
Raising commonality in the way different companies operate the same helicopter type will be among the subjects of the safety review launched by North Sea operators Bristow, Avincis and CHC.
The widow of a Blue Hawaiian pilot killed in the crash of a company Eurocopter EC130B4 in November 2011 has filed a suit against the air-tour operator and the helicopter’s manufacturer, citing product defects. Pilot Nathan Cline and four passengers were killed when the helicopter crashed on Molokai during a sightseeing flight. Witnesses at an elementary school near the crash site reported heavy rain squalls at the time of the accident.
Russian Helicopters announced that the third prototype of the Mi-38 heavy twin, and the first fitted with Klimov TV7-117V engines, made its maiden flight on November 29 at the Mil Moscow helicopter plant. The helicopter’s new Fadec-controlled turboshaft engine outputs 2,800 shp at takeoff and up to 3,750 shp in “emergency power.”
Ruag Aviation has plans to open a helicopter facility at Sion Airport in western Switzerland. Initially the facility will focus on the maintenance, repair and overhaul of Sikorsky S-76s, with planned growth to include more types in the future.
Bell Helicopter has received approval by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to perform maintenance and customization on Bell 206s, 407s and 429s under the certification of Transport Canada. The authorization includes scheduled and unscheduled maintenance; inspections, repair or recertification; component replacement; incorporating airworthiness directives, service bulletins and technical bulletins; incorporating STCs or servicing instructions; and helicopter disassembly and re-assembly.