Sikorsky has delivered its 600th S-76. More than 220 operators in 59 countries currently fly the type and, since the first aircraft was delivered in 1979, the fleet has accumulated more than 4 million flight hours. Strategy v-p Jeff Pino told AIN that the company could deliver the 700th helicopter by the summer of 2008.
In response to recommendations of the joint industry/ government International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST), MD Helicopters will include as standard equipment on all its aircraft wire-strike protection systems, cockpit voice and video recorders, health and usage monitoring systems and terrain awareness warning systems starting next year.
Two instances of bearing failure in GE CT7-8A turboshaft engines prompted the FAA to issue an emergency AD (2006-06-51) on March 17. The directive requires Sikorsky S-92 operators to inspect the chip detector for debris at intervals of 25 hours. The FAA says aluminum oxide contamination caused the first failure and damage from improper use of a tool caused the bearing to fail in the second case.
Predictions for the number of civil helicopter deliveries over the next decade differ somewhat, according to forecasts released at Heli-Expo in Dallas in late February by engine manufacturers Honeywell and Rolls-Royce. According to Rolls-Royce, 5,191 civil turbine rotorcraft will be delivered during the 10-year period between 2006 and 2015, equating to an annual average of about 520 machines.
NTSB preliminary statistics for last year show an increase in aviation accidents for airline and general aviation operations and a decline for on-demand air taxis. The NTSB said there were 1,669 accidents last year involving GA aircraft compared with 1,617 in 2004. The 562 fatalities involved in GA accidents were four more than during the previous year. The NTSB also reported higher GA rates (accidents per 100,000 flight hours).
Bell 206B JetRanger, Cleveland, Ohio, June 25, 2005–A failure of the main drive shaft for undetermined reasons, the NTSB concluded, caused the total loss of engine power in the Bell 206B JetRanger. A factor in the accident was the pilot’s improper flare.
Bell 206B JetRanger, Gulf of Mexico, Aug. 18, 2005–The NTSB concluded that the pilot’s improper fuel calculations caused the Air Logistics JetRanger to crash into the Gulf of Mexico because of fuel exhaustion. The pilot had enough fuel for approximately one hour and 50 minutes with no reserve when he flew to an oil platform, where oil was spotted on the side of the fuselage.
Sikorsky S-76B, New York, N.Y., Oct. 11, 2005–The United Technologies S-76 refueled at a riverside heliport and was being repositioned to another spot to pick up passengers. The pilot flying described the conditions as “dark, drizzling rain, northerly winds 8 to 10 knots, [and an] unusually high water level of the…river.” The pilot flying was in the right seat; the pilot-in-command was in the left.
Eurocopter AS 350-B2 AStar, Jasper, Ala., Dec. 22, 2005–The NTSB blamed the accident on the pilot’s failure to maintain a visual lookout and proper altitude clearance during a low-level flight.
Bell 206B JetRanger, Patterson, La., March 14, 2006–As the Rotorcraft Leasing JetRanger left Patterson for an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the helicopter seemed to lose power and “dropped” a couple of times. A passenger reported that the pilot “didn’t have the power to keep it up.” Although the pilot recovered a couple of times, he was attempting an emergency landing when it crashed in trees only five miles from Patterson.