The number of U.S. helicopter accidents dropped 17 percent during the first six months of this year compared with the same period last year, according to data from the United States Helicopter Safety Team (USHST). From January through the end of June this year, there were 62 civil helicopter accidents compared with 75 during the same period last year. During the first six months of this year, nine helicopter accidents resulted in 15 fatalities, compared with 18 fatal accidents that resulted in 41 fatalities during last year’s first half.
DRS Technologies, part of the Finmeccanica group (Outside Exhibit 1), is promoting a flight data recorder that deploys upon impact in the event of a crash. The system has been used for many years in military aircraft and helicopters operating in the offshore industry, and has been put to the test many times. The need for a system for commercial aircraft that can be easily and quickly recovered has been brought into sharp focus following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in March.
Sikorsky (OE3, OE4) here on Monday announced that it has begun delivering S-76 medium twin helicopters equipped for executive transport and search-and-rescue (SAR).
Among the features that executive transport operators will enjoy, the company said, is the ability to keep the rotors static, i.e. not rotating, while running an engine to power the air-conditioning. It also claims its active vibration control and Quiet Zone transmission technology provide smooth and quiet cabin conditions, allowing normal conversations.
Airbus Helicopters will lead the design of a compound rotorcraft demonstrator dubbed “LifeRCraft” (Low Impact Fast & Efficient RotorCraft) as part of Europe’s Clean Sky 2 Joint Technology Initiative, which was formally launched last week in Brussels. Preliminary studies, architecture and specification activity will start this year, with development and testing of components and subsystems envisioned in the 2016-2018 timeframe. Flight evaluations could start in early 2019.
Textron’s Bell Helicopter brought four helicopters to its Farnborough Airshow display (Exhibit Area L2), including a mockup of the Bell 525 Relentless outfitted in search-and-rescue configuration and a mockup of the 505 Jet Ranger X, which just concluded a three-month European tour.
A 407GX is also on the Bell static display, as is a 429 in emergency-medical service configuration. The 429 also just finished a three-month demonstration tour. During FIA14, a corporate-configured Bell 429 is flying demonstration flights.
Textron subsidiaries Bell Helicopter and TRU Simulation + Training announced an agreement today for TRU to complete the design, development, manufacturing, installation, testing and certification of the Bell 525 Relentless level-D full-motion flight simulator. The simulator for the new “super-medium” twin-engine helicopter will employ TRU’s ultra-high-definition visual system with 240-degree horizontal by 80-degree vertical field of view.
Unlike its sister ship the EC225, the EC175’s main gearbox has no backup lubrication system, which could present a problem should it experience a total loss of oil. To compensate for this, its components have been designed to withstand the absence of lubricant for a limited period of time. Airbus Helicopters so far has certified a 15-minute dry-run capability (which involved a 30-minute demonstration). Further tests are scheduled for 2015 in a bid to increase the certified duration to at least 30 minutes.
AgustaWestland last month received the 2014 American Helicopter Museum and Education Center’s achievement award for “advancements in rotary-wing technologies,” based on the Project Zero tiltrotor demonstrator program. Dr. James Wang, the manufacturer’s research-and-development vice president, accepted the award. Led by Wang, the Project Zero team designed, built and flew a 2,200-pound, all-electric vertical lift aircraft in six months. A few flights took place in 2011-2012.
Powered ground tests of the Sikorsky CH-53K, the U.S. Marine Corps’ future heavy-lift helicopter, are now well under way at the company’s West Palm Beach, Florida facility in the run-up to first flight later this year. The first ground-test vehicle (GTV1) started systems testing in late April, about a week before the first flying article was rolled out on May 5. Operational service of the mostly composite helicopter, which has been dubbed the “King Stallion,” is expected in 2019.
Sikorsky Aircraft powered on its S-97 Raider prototype on May 28 at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Florida, marking the successful installation of the avionics system and a major step toward completing the assembly of the new light tactical rotorcraft. A contender for the U.S.