Eurocopter (Booth P616) is the only helicopter manufacturer exhibiting here at the ABACE show in Shanghai. In some respects, it is no surprise that it is here because it has strong ties with China. The company is counting on growing civil sales in the country, especially as general aviation is to benefit from a more open airspace at low altitude. It is also deepening its roots in the country, with training, maintenance and production joint ventures.
Sikorsky president Jeff Pino presented his company’s 2011 results and 2012 outlook last week, and the outlook suggests that strong deliveries of the S-92 medium twin will boost civil activity this year. Pino is expecting S-92 handovers to leap by 42 percent and overall civil activity by approximately 30 percent, while overall total sales (military and civil) will fall by 5 percent.
The EASA has issued an emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) calling for inspections of all Eurocopter EC135s after a crack was discovered on the lower hub-shaft flange of a main rotor hub shaft on one of the light twin-engine helicopters. In issuing the emergency order, the agency wants to avoid crack propagation, which could cause hub failure.
Eurocopter is claiming a 64-percent share of the small Indian civil helicopter market. Last year the manufacturer delivered nine new turbine helicopters out of a total of 14 registered in the country. Five were twins, while the remaining four were single-engine AS350B3s. The AS350 Ecureuil/AStar series had a 70- to 80-percent market share in the single-engine sector over the last two years in India, Eurocopter said.
Elections have proved to generate peak demand for India’s helicopter operators, but strict enforcement of rules by regulators is making life hard for operators serving candidates in this year’s elections.
The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Eurocopter AS350 helicopters. Prompted by an in-flight fire caused by ignition of hydraulic fluid leaking from a damaged forward (pitch) servo-control hydraulic hose, the proposed AD is intended to prevent the forward servo-control hydraulic hoses from becoming damaged and leaking hydraulic fluid that could ignite in flight, which can result in loss of main rotor control, power loss, structural damage, propagation of fire and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.
Bell Helicopter operators have more maintenance options with Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Cadorath Aerospace. The company has developed 123 new Bell engineering repairs in the past year and has more than 600 approved repairs for the Bell line overall.
“We have expanded the Bell 206B, 206L, 407, 204, 205, 212 and 412 rework lines,” said Gerry Cadorath, the company’s president and CEO. “We have targeted 180 more for 2012.”
Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison told AIN that his company is seeking airframe partners on its new 525 Relentless super-medium twin, which was announced last month at Heli-Expo in Dallas. “We’re looking at that. On the airframe side there are some potential partners that we are in detailed discussions with, but it is too early to announce anything yet,” he said.
The Civil Aviation Directorate of Serbia has launched an initiative to open a registered “heliport” in each municipality in the country. AIN understands these will be proper landing areas with at least a wind sock. Municipalities would have to pay for land development and site maintenance. Currently, the Serbian registry of heliports includes only eight platforms.
The FAA has issued what could be an expensive tail-boom inspection airworthiness directive for the more than 100 Eurocopter EC130B4s in service in the U.S., most of them with air-tour operators. The AD mandates inspections for cracks in the region where the tail boom meets the fenestron assembly. If cracks are found the boom must be replaced at an estimated cost of $64,250 per helicopter.