Sikorsky Aircraft’s new S-76D helicopter received certification from Mexico’s civil aviation authority, the Direccion General de Aeronautica Civil (DGAC), this week. The FAA gave its blessing for the S-76D in October, and the helicopter continues its envelope expansion as the first models move through final modifications for customer deliveries this year.
The FAA adopted an airworthiness directive for Eurocopter Deutschland MBB-Kawasaki BK117C2 helicopters requiring inspection of the long tail-rotor drive shaft assembly for blind rivets. If any blind rivets are located, the shaft assembly must be replaced. The AD was prompted by the discovery that some helicopters have blind rivets installed in place of solid rivets, which could lead to failure of the tail rotor drive shaft and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.
Signature Flight Support has resumed handling of all helicopter traffic into London Gatwick Airport, coinciding with the reopening of the helicopter aiming point (HAP) on May 3. The opening of the HAP after a 12-year hiatus allows operators once again to land helicopters at Gatwick without having to taxi on the runway. The new HAP is located at the end of Taxiway Uniform on the airport’s west side. Slots are still required for landing, and the HAP is for daylight use only when visibility is better than 1,500 meters.
Bell Helicopter held two maintainers and operators conferences in China at the end of April, in Beijing and Shanghai. The conferences helped Chinese operators learn more about Bell customer support and service enhancements and safety improvements and enabled discussion of technical issues. “We were pleased with the turnout at both locations,” said Chris Jaran, managing director, China. “It was apparent that our Chinese customers are focused on maintaining their Bell Helicopter products at the highest level.”
The Columbus, Ohio police temporarily grounded its MD500 fleet and hired an independent maintenance company to inspect the helicopters in April after discovering “gaps” in maintenance records.
Russian Helicopters has delivered two Mi-171s to Siberian operator Skol Airline. They are fitted with special lifting and transport equipment, including an on-board boom and winch able to lift loads of 330 pounds and an external hoist rated for 8,800 pounds. The new helicopters will “help Skol strengthen its position in the international air-freight market.”
Eurocopter Japan has delivered a Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin retrofitted with a high-speed, real-time satellite transmission system to the country’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency. The helicopter satellite communication system enables direct transmission to relay satellites, without being interrupted by the helicopter’s moving rotor blades. Mitsubishi Electric developed the system, intended for use when ground-based networks are unavailable.
The Helicopter Association International (HAI) recently filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals seeking to eliminate the mandatory North Shore Route for helicopters over New York’s Long Island. The FAA mandated the route in July last year after political pressure from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). HAI has long argued that the North Shore Route is unsafe and that its imposition violates several laws.
Sikorsky Innovations has selected EvoLux Transportation the winner of its second “Entrepreneurial Challenge Competition” for its in-development helicopter reservation system, targeted at making helicopter flights more attractive for potential users and increasing revenues for operators.
EvoLux claims to be “building the world’s first helicopter charter marketplace.” Its software platform manages per-seat, on-demand reservation and dispatch. In August 2011, it began to test the prototype in the South Florida market. It generated “early revenues” that “validated” the model.
The Astronics Max-Viz-1500 enhanced vision system is now available as a factory option for new Bell 429s, as well as for retrofit installations in the light twin helicopter. According to the company, the system permits pilots to see farther than the unaided human eye while offering an added degree of safety and situational awareness in conditions with obscured vision. Retrofit installations will be done at the Bell Helicopter service facility in Piney Flats, Tenn.