Norsk Helikopter’s third Sikorsky S-92 entered revenue service last month. The helicopter is under contract to BP Norge and Talisman Energy Norge, flying their employees to and from oil platforms in the North Sea.
Sikorsky has been awarded FAA certification for its S-76C++ variant. Two airframes have already been delivered, the first to PHI (formerly Petroleum Helicopters) and a second to an unidentified private owner. More than 60 S-76C++ helicopters are currently on order.
A UK CAA study says the risk of a helicopter capsizing during a controlled ditching is “considerably higher” than it should be. A report on helicopter ditching and crashworthiness research recommends new tests to establish a reliable computer model of the motion of a helicopter as it is affected by waves and swell.
As the helicopter industry once again prepares to hold its annual roundup in Dallas later this month, it is riding the crest of a wave that includes the highest U.S. rotary-wing production figures in more than a decade.
Investigations into two accidents involving Eurocopter AS 350 helicopters led the NTSB to determine that the hydraulic pump drive belt (P/N 704A33690004) prematurely failed in flight. Additionally, an inquiry of the FAA’s Service Difficulty Report database found 43 failures and/or replacements of hydraulic pump drive belts with that part number between February 1995 and the present.
A pilot has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges following an accident in Hawaii last September that killed three passengers. Glen Lampton, a pilot for air-tour operator Heli USA, was flying a company AStar when it crashed into the sea near Kauai’s Ke’e Beach. Two other passengers and Lampton were uninjured. A trial has been set for July.
Bell 206L LongRanger, New York, N.Y., June 14, 2005–The NTSB blamed the crash of the Helicopter Professionals LongRanger on “the pilot’s inadequate preflight planning, which resulted in an attempted takeoff with an overweight helicopter and subsequent impact with a pier and water.” According to the Safety Board, a high ambient temperature and unfavorable wind were factors in the crash, which all the occupants survived.
Although corporate aviation in the nation is limited, New Zealand boasts one of the highest per capita ratios of aircraft operation, with 9,040 pilots in a population of 4 million flying 3,830 aircraft on the CAA registry. Most of those are general aviation piston airplanes, while Eurocopters dominate the more than 500 turbine-powered aircraft.
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.