On March 4 the FAA issued its final rule on Stage 3 helicopter noise certification standards for new helicopter type design and the upgrade of Stage 1 and Stage 2 helicopters when upgrading to Stage 3 via supplemental type certificate (STC). The rule standardizes FAA regulations with those adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2002 and follows the issuance of a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the topic issued in 2012.
The UK CAA has unveiled a series of dramatic measures stemming from the review it launched last September to improve the safety of offshore helicopter operations in the North Sea. Its primary goal is to improve the odds of passengers and crew surviving a ditching, but the exhaustive 293-page report also addresses pilot training, helidecks and a host of other safety topics.
There were some surprises in the new-helicopter department at the Helicopter Association International’s Heli-Expo show, held during the last week of February, but the big news this year was the crop of orders, especially from helicopter leasing companies.
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.