Eurocopter and French aerospace research center Onera are jointly investigating how augmented reality, for the senses of vision and touch, could benefit helicopter pilots in the future. The two organizations are developing an advanced flight simulator, also known as a “neuro-ergonomic” platform, initially aimed at finding ways to avoid obstacles and terrain.
A helicopter air ambulance belonging to Ontario’s provincially funded service, Ornge, crashed shortly after takeoff May 31, killing its four-man crew of two pilots and two flight paramedics. The 1980 Sikorsky S-76A took off from rural Moosonee along St. James Bay at 12:10 a.m. en route to the remote First Nation village of Attawapiskat for a patient pick-up. It crashed almost immediately after takeoff into a densely wooded area less than 3,000 feet off the airport and burned.
The FAA has certified a new functionality on the Sikorsky S-92: an automated rig approach for offshore operators intended to decrease workload when the crew is in a critical flight phase. Sikorsky intends eventually to bring the same capability to the smaller S-76D.
The S-92’s autopilot already had a search-and-rescue (SAR) mode that could fly the rotorcraft to a point in space. Sikorsky design engineers, collaborating with operator PHI, built on this mode to create the new functionality. In addition, the weather radar ensures the flight path is free from obstacles.
Eurocopter performed a demonstration flight of an “optionally piloted vehicle” (OPV) version of the EC145 in late April, with the goal of eventually employing any of its models in unmanned operations such as automated surveillance and cargo hauling. Secret flight-testing began two weeks earlier at Istres air force base in France. The project’s coordination team is based at Eurocopter’s research and development center in Donauwörth, Germany, where the first flights, with a monitoring pilot, took place.
The NTSB’s preliminary report on the June 6 crash of a Bell 206L-1 into an elementary school parking lot as it approached for landing near Manchester, Ky., said, “Several eyewitnesses reported clear weather and stated the helicopter was ‘spinning’ before impact.” The accident occurred at 2315 local time. Other witnesses contradicted earlier reports that mentioned dense fog in the area at the time and some saw the helicopter only just before impact.
Offshore oil helicopter operator Bristow Group is retrofitting all 44 of its helicopters with Rockwell Collins Tcas II systems. Working with the avionics manufacturer, Bristow has already retrofitted the Collins TTR-4000 Tcas II system on 24 of its helicopters. Within the next year Rockwell Collins is to install its next-generation TTR-4100, which adds traffic computer capability and enables ADS-B IN applications, on 20 of Bristow’s helicopters.
Bell Helicopter (Static W24, T23 & 27) president and CEO John Garrison announced improved specifications for the in-development Bell 525 Relentless medium-lift helicopter at the Paris Air Show. Cruise speed at max continuous power and max gross weight has been increased from 140 knots previously specified to 155-plus knots, range from more than 400 to 500-plus nautical miles, useful load from 4,000 pounds to more than 7,400 pounds and maximum gross weight from 18,000 pounds to 19,300 pounds.
Innovation at AgustaWestland, according to Robert Farnese, company market positioning and promotion manager, comprises two elements. “First, you need to have an idea that works,” he told a Paris Air Show audience on Tuesday. “Second, you have to execute that idea.” He then added a caveat: “You must also master the present and have a vision for the future.”
Rockwell Collins (Hall 2B D108) is launching a family of products designed to give helicopter pilots better situational awareness when flying in congested and hazard-filled airspace. Called HeliSure, the family’s first two products, Helicopter Synthetic Vision System (H-SVS) and Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System (H-Taws), have been selected by AgustaWestland for its AW149, AW189, AW101 and AW169 helicopters.
Marenco Swisshelicopter has selected Donaldson Aerospace & Defense to provide the fuel filtration system for its new Skye SH09 helicopter. The equipment will protect the performance of the Honeywell HTS900-2 turboshaft that will power the eight-seat helicopter. Donaldson specializes in making lightweight, advanced filtration systems.