Bell Helicopter executives told AIN that the company will be pursuing initial type certification of its new 505 Jet Ranger X light single from Transport Canada and will conduct prototype assembly and flight-testing of the aircraft from its plant in Mirabel, Quebec. First flight is expected later this year.
Turbomeca is negotiating with Russia’s United Engine Corp (Russian acronym ODK) to co-develop a new 3,000-shp engine based on the RTM322, but using the new Tech3000 core. The Safran subsidiary has already established a strong presence in Russia, with 200 engines in service and new ones selected to power the Ka-62 and Ka-226 helicopters.
Although popular with police, EMS and offshore operators in Europe and Asia since its introduction in 1999, the Airbus Helicopters (née Eurocopter) EC155 has been slow to catch on in the U.S. market. Customers panned the initial model for its unreliability and inadequate engine power. Those issues were largely addressed with an improved variant, the EC155B1, which entered production in 2002 and introduced uprated engines.
The UK Ministry of Defence awarded BAE Systems a £16.7 million ($28 million) contract to supply its third-generation common missile warning system (CMWS) for British military helicopters. The order represents the first direct commercial sale of the latest generation countermeasures suite, BAE said.
The Turkish aerospace industry was on full display last week during the ILA Berlin airshow, at which it was the official ‘partner country’. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) put the T129 attack helicopter and the Anka Male UAV on static display, and showed the Hurkus turboprop trainer on its stand in Hall 6. Also in that hall were displays by avionics specialist Aselsan; simulation and training company Havelsan, missile house Roketsan, systems house STM, defense research and space organization Tubitak, and Turkish Airlines.
Despite many program delays and customer criticisms, the pan-European NH-90 helicopter “is fit for purpose and doing real missions” according to Vincent Dubrule, president of the NH Industries joint venture among Airbus Helicopters, AgustaWestland and Fokker. He acknowledged that the NH-90 “had been a development program for too long, with a lot of variants. But now, nearly all the deliveries are in the final configuration.” The current focus was to refine in-service support, reduce the intervals between scheduled maintenance, and “solve the remaining maturity issues,” Dubrule added.
Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) is here exhibiting the Hermès luxury version of its EC135, and is soliciting new possibilities for customization. The helicopter manufacturer (Booth 6613) is seeing a steady market in private and business aviation, with a combined 150 helicopters sold in the world last year by rotorcraft OEMs. Company design engineers are now working on the VIP version of the EC175, with hinged doors and an escalator for passengers.
Sikorsky Aircraft vice president of research and engineering Mark Miller confirmed that the Stratford, Conn.-based helicopter manufacturer plans to develop a civilian version of the S-97 Raider, which is a contender for the U.S. Army’s armed aerial scout program. The S-97, he said, is a production-ready, “scaled-up version of the X2 demonstrator,” with both helicopters having contrarotating rotor blades and a pusher propeller that enables high-speed forward flight. A civil variant of the S-97 would be “ideal” for offshore oil, search and rescue and VIP transport, according to Miller.
MD Helicopters showed off its prototype MD540A armed scout helicopter last week at the Sofex show in Jordan, marking the type’s first appearance outside the U.S. The choice of venue was made to highlight the type’s credentials in an area where its hot-and-high performance is of considerable interest, at a show where its special-forces support capability is highly relevant, and in a country that has a requirement for a new armed helicopter.
The Turbomeca Arrius 2R turboshaft made its first ground run on April 29 at the company’s test facility in Bordes, France. The derivative engine, which is in the 500-shp class, will power the in-development Bell 505 Jet Ranger X light single. The Arrius 2R features Fadec and a 3,000-hour time between overhaul. Certification is expected late next year.