While the U.S. Congress has averted mandatory budget sequestration until March, including anticipated defense spending cuts, Pentagon watchers have been predicting a new austerity one way or the other for months.
Bell Helicopter is preparing to start assembling the first prototype of the 525 Relentless super-medium twin later this year at its facility in Amarillo, Texas. Four more prototypes are expected to join the test program before certification in 2015. Bell and its suppliers have begun manufacturing parts for the helicopter, which was announced in February last year and is slated to fly for the first time next year.
On Tuesday, the NTSB faulted maintenance performance and procedures at Las Vegas, Nev.-based air-tour operator Sundance Helicopters as the probable cause of the Dec. 7, 2011 crash of an AS350B2 that killed the pilot and four passengers near the Hoover Dam in Nevada. The 1988 helicopter was originally manufactured as an AS350B and had accumulated 25,216 hours since new.
Winnipeg, Canada-based Cadorath Aerospace has expanded its engineering department to broaden its offerings for Bell helicopter repairs. Last year, Cadorath’s engineering team developed 178 new extended repairs for Bell helicopters. Cadorath says this growth in the list of Bell repairs, as well as expansion of the engineering team, puts it on schedule to perform more repairs this year.
Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft signed a teaming agreement to submit a joint proposal for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) technology demonstration (TD), phase one. The effort aims to develop the Army’s next-generation medium helicopter. The two companies said they are prepared to “build and fly one or more” medium-sized demonstrator aircraft in 2017, the program’s first-flight milestone.
Bell Helicopter Asia, Bell’s maintenance service facility in Singapore, received Part 145 approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. This certification allows the company to repair, complete, maintain and customize Bell helicopters in Asia. The 165,000-sq-ft facility opened its doors six months ago in partnership with sister company Cessna Aircraft.
Less than two months after two possible weather-related fatal crashes of EMS helicopters in Illinois and Iowa, the FAA has issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin covering recommendations for rotorcraft 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 neither equipped nor approved for flight into icing conditions.
The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch has begun its work to discover the causes of an accident in which an AgustaWestland AW109 Power helicopter crashed in central London on January 16, killing its pilot and the driver of a car. But British Prime Minister David Cameron has already ordered a wider review of the regulation of helicopter flights over the UK capital in the wake of the incident, in which the aircraft crashed just before 8 a.m.
The International Helicopter Safety Team’s continuing goal is to reduce the civil helicopter accident rate by 80 percent by 2016 and avoid another near-record week like it experienced in October 2012 when eight lives were lost in four separate accidents in just eight days.
The IHST believes a number of pilot behavior patterns cause the vast majority of accidents, including the need by some aviators to prove they have “the right stuff” to fly in all situations.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered a review of the regulation of helicopter flights over central London in the wake of an accident yesterday in which an AgustaWestland AW109 Power crashed into a newly erected crane on a high-rise building in the UK capital’s Vauxhall district. The accident claimed the life of pilot Pete Barnes, the sole occupant of the helicopter, which was being operated by UK-based charter firm RotorMotion.