Bell 206L LongRanger, Chesterfield, Ind., Feb. 2, 2006–The EMS LongRanger, operated by Petroleum Helicopters (PHI) of Lafayette, La., was destroyed when it hit trees, wires and houses while maneuvering in IMC near Chesterfield. It was en route to pick up a patient at a Kokomo, Ind. hospital. The pilot, flight nurse and paramedic were seriously injured.
Bell 222B, Gulf of Mexico, Feb. 19, 2006–Approaching the ship Shaula Star in the Gulf of Mexico for a night VMC landing, the ATP-rated pilot of the Central Helicopters Bell 222 said he had the ship in sight and was configuring the helicopter for the landing when he “looked up just in time to see the water in the windscreen.” He experienced no mechanical problems with the helicopter before crashing into the Gulf.
Bell 206BIII JetRanger, Parkes, Australia, Feb. 2, 2006–The pilot and two passengers were killed when Southwest Helicopters JetRanger VH-MFI crashed 11 nm from Parkes and was destroyed. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the accident.
At a briefing at February’s Heli-Expo in Dallas, members of the industry’s newly formed International Helicopter Safety Team briefed delegates on their strategy to drive an 80-percent improvement in rotorcraft safety statistics in the next 10 years. An FAA representative told AIN that a “one size fits all” or prescriptive approach to setting new standards would not work.
Bell’s new high-performance main rotor system flew for the first time at Mirabel, Canada, at the end of February. By flying the system, the OEM met a 2005 commitment to demonstrate seven key features of the 429 light twin within 12 months.
Honeywell has announced plans to build an FAA-certified, 1,800-shp version of its military T53 turbo-shaft engine to fit the recently certified Bell 210.
New Engine for AStars
Eurocopter test pilot Didier Delsalle (center) and president and CEO Fabrice Brégier (right) accepted the world record verification from Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) representative Jacques Escaffe (left) for landing the first helicopter on top of Mount Everest (elevation 29,035 feet). Delsalle performed the feat last May in a production Eurocopter AS 350B3 AStar.
As demand for new helicopters surpasses the manufacturers’ ability to deliver, marketing consultant HeliValue$ said that prices are increasing dramatically for virtually all used helicopters. This year many used helicopters could sell for more than new copies of the same model. In fact, this has already occurred with the Bell 407.
If deals closed are the standard by which a trade show’s success is measured, Heli-Expo 2006 was an unqualified triumph. During the event, held in Dallas on the last three days of February, the major manufacturers announced sales approaching $700 million.