Houston Police officer Ray Hunt thinks a department helicopter saved his life. He was chasing a parole violator into the woods at night. A police helicopter kept the suspect, armed with a TEC-9 submachine pistol, pinned down and lit up until Hunt and fellow officers could subdue and disarm him. Without the helicopter “he would have killed us when we walked into those woods,” Hunt said.
At a public hearing August 6 in Sherman Oaks, Calif., citizens of the Los Angeles metro area took to the microphone to complain to FAA Western-Pacific regional administrator Bill Withycombe about noise caused by low-flying helicopters.
Preliminary Report: Turboprop Crashes in Brazil
American Eurocopter’s blade shop in Grand Prairie, Texas, is a busy place. The 20 craftsmen repair and refurbish 1,000 helicopter main and tail rotor blades every year. That translates into 95 percent of all Eurocopter blade work in the U.S.
Much of the work is done by hand. “It is a slow process,” acknowledges shop manager Jim Tully. “It would be nice if we could find a way to go faster, but it has to be done the same way. With fiberglass, it wouldn’t take long to scrap out a blade completely” if a mistake were made.
“Decision errors in aviation are typically not slips or lapses, but mistakes,” concludes the introduction to the European Helicopter Safety Implementation Team’s new guide to rotorcraft decision making. “In other words, the problem doesn’t lie with a failure to execute a correct decision, but with making a poor decision in the first instance.”
BLR Aerospace announced at LABACE 2012 that it has won certification from the Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC) of Brazil for its FastFin tail rotor enhancement and stability system for installation and flight on Bell Helicopter Models 204, 205 and 212.
A test aircraft assigned to Bell Helicopter’s XworX research-and-development division crashed Tuesday morning 10 miles from Avalon, Texas. The two-pilot crew was uninjured.
Wreckage video taken by a Dallas television station shows that the twin-engine Bell 214ST was flying a main-rotor system that had five blades when pilots made an emergency landing in a field and then gently rolled onto its right side. The video does not show any remains of the tail rotor.
The Helicopter Association International is accepting nominations for the 2013 Salute to Excellence Awards program, which honors “outstanding achievements and exceptional merits of individuals and organizations in the international helicopter community.” The awards are open to any individual or organization, according to HAI. Categories include pilots, mechanics, instructors, safety, law enforcement, medevac and more. The awards will be presented on March 6 during Heli-Expo 2013 in Las Vegas.
Russian Helicopters is developing a “comprehensive avionics system” for situational awareness, autopilot landing and collision avoidance. It will be installed on all new Russian-made helicopters starting in 2015. The new “intelligent” system will inform pilots about hazards in the landing area. It will even enable the aircraft to hover above a given point and land automatically.
A global team of research organizations is quietly working on an active rotor blade in which distributed piezo-electric actuators can change blade twist almost continuously over the course of one blade revolution. Partners can be found in the U.S., Europe and Asia. A full test campaign is scheduled for next year.