Composite Technology, a Sikorsky Aerospace Services company based at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, has opened a $15 million structure to dynamically balance helicopter main rotor blades. It can test main rotor blades that rotate either clockwise or counterclockwise, and its two 3,000-shp, variable-frequency drive motors make it suitable for light to heavy helicopters. A test involves three blades: a precision-balanced master blade and two test blades. One blade can weigh up to 500 pounds.
The Japan Coast Guard has ordered four Sikorsky S-76Ds, which will replace “several helicopters that were damaged in the tsunami of 2011,” the manufacturer said. The Japan Coast Guard had been a long-time user of the S-76C, C+ and C++. Sikorsky has also received an order for one S-76D from Swiss-based Air Engiadina. It will be operated in the UK or Switzerland for VIP and other passenger flights. Delivery is scheduled for next year.
“You want to do full-motion?” asks American Eurocopter simulator instructor Eric King. “We have this bag right here.” King points to a jumbo sick sack between the two pilot positions in the $6 million Eurocopter AS350B2 and AS350B3 Level B simulator at the company’s Grand Prairie, Texas campus. For a fleeting moment, I focus on the pair of sliders I had for lunch at the nearby Krystal. That was probably not the best choice. However, today motion sickness will be the least of my problems.
MD Helicopters launched the 540F today. A variant of the 530F turbine single, the new helicopter’s six composite main rotor blades and fully articulated main rotor system will enable it to meet the military’s high/hot benchmark of operating in conditions of 95 degrees F and 6,000 feet msl.
Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison told AIN that his company deliberately opted to use proven technologies on its recently announced super-medium twin, the 525 Relentless.
Russian Helicopters’ production is on the up and the company is modernizing its factories in anticipation of this trend continuing.
Between 2004 and 2011, the company tripled production, from 85 to 262 helicopters, and last year its revenues from both civil and military rotorcraft grew 40 percent, to RUB120 billion ($4 billion).
Claiming a global market share of 14 percent by aircraft value, Andrei Reus, Russian Helicopters chairman and director general of parent company Oboronprom, ranks Russian Helicopters “third by global sales” behind Sikorsky and Eurocopter.
The French helicopter lobbying association, Union Française de l’Hélicoptère (UFH), is voicing strong and growing concern that ever-stricter operational rules are preventing operators from running a sound business and have already claimed victims among the smallest ones. About 600 commercial and private helicopters currently fly in France, according to the association.
Helicopter operators in China face the same regulatory and infrastructure impediments that their fixed-wing counterparts do. To learn more about how helicopters can be better accommodated in the Asian country, AIN sat down with Helicopter Association International president Matt Zuccaro at ABACE 2012.
Last year’s announcement of schemes aimed at opening some lower-altitude airspace (LAA) in China offered a glimmer of hope to the rotary-wing sector that it would soon be easier to operate helicopters in the country. However, there is still some way to go before the industry can grow much further, as officials grapple with how to manage airspace once the experiments finish.