Aviation Industries of China (AVIC II) and Eurocopter have agreed to the joint development of a new six-ton twin-engine helicopter–the EC 175–to fill the niche between the AS 365 Dauphin (Dolphin) and the Super Puma. A five-year development phase is expected to start soon. The new civil type is expected to make its first flight in 2009, with European and Chinese certification (and production) set for 2011.
The Republic of Georgia’s “Airclub of Georgia” has taken delivery of a searchlight-equipped Enstrom 280FX for police surveillance missions. The police force wants to broaden its airborne presence and may acquire a whole fleet of Enstroms to serve throughout the southeastern European country.
Enstrom has also received an order for a 480B turbine helicopter from Slovenia, for use as a private business aircraft.
After several years of precarious business relations, MD Helicopters (MDHI) has reached a multi-year agreement with Kaman Aerospace for the Connecticut company to once more provide components for its production lines. Kaman will now supply rotor blades, pitch cases and flex beams for the MD 902 and other types.
Sikorsky Aircraft of Stratford, Conn., recently completed the acquisition of Keystone Ranger Holdings, which includes Keystone Helicopters in West Chester, Pa., and Composite Technology USA in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Eurocopter AS 350-B2, Scottsdale, Ariz., July 1, 2004–The NTSB determined that the accident was the result of “the inadvertent in-flight engagement of the collective down lock, which resulted in an uncontrolled descent and ground impact.
Bell 206L-4T LongRanger, Mostóles, Spain, Dec. 1, 2005–The Helicopteros del Sureste LongRanger was substantially damaged when it hit a wall while attempting to depart a bull ring in Mostóles in VMC. The pilot and five passengers received minor injuries. The Spanish accident commission is investigating.
AgustaWestland A109S Grand
The order book for this uprated 109 variant currently stands at almost 60. AgustaWestland received EASA approval for the type in June (as its first customer, a Briton, took delivery) and FAA certification is expected by next month. The company planned to have delivered five airframes by press time and 10 more later this year.
A new international safety team that aims to improve helicopter safety by a factor of five could be ready to start work by this summer. A draft charter for the organization was approved last month, and an industry briefing is scheduled to take place during Heli-Expo.
Canadian Helicopters plans to buy the Max-Viz EVS-1000 enhanced-vision system for some of its onshore helicopter operations.
India’s Dhruv fleet was grounded in December after Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) identified a fault in the tail rotor blades. Investigation following a November accident led HAL to issue a technical advisory to all operators of the medium twin helicopter.
At press time, defense production secretary K. P. Singh confirmed that “the faults have been rectified and the helicopter will be flying again within days.”