Eurocopter has received two more firm orders for VIP versions of the EC175 medium twin helicopter, bringing the total backlog to 48. Deliveries to both unidentified customers are scheduled for 2016. The interior design, which accommodates six to eight passengers, was done by Peder Eidsgaard of Pegasus Design. Cabin completion will be performed at Eurocopter’s factory in Marignane, France. Once planned for 2011, certification of the EC175 is now expected early next year.
Helicopter leasing firm Milestone Aviation Group announced yesterday at HeliTech a multi-year framework agreement to purchase an unspecified, but “significant,” number of AgustaWestland AW139s, AW169s and AW189s.
These aircraft will enter service worldwide in support of Milestone’s lessees serving offshore oil and gas transportation services, aeromedical transport, search-and-rescue operations, para-public and other utility missions.
Eurocopter announced yesterday that it will upgrade the American Eurocopter plant in Columbus, Miss., to accommodate final assembly of the AS350, which it said is the top-selling civil helicopter in the U.S. market. AS350 production is expected to start at the plant in the fourth quarter of next year and will ramp up to 60 of the light single-engine helicopters annually by 2016.
In 1996, Eurocopter became the first Western rotorcraft maker to enter the Russian market and it is testament to the sector’s great potential that the company is now facing a more concerted challenge in the country from rivals such as AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopters.
Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services was re-certified as a Sikorsky authorized S-76 and S-61 overhaul and repair center and as a Sikorsky authorized customer support center for the S-76. Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services will continue to provide Sikorsky operators with scheduled maintenance for the S-76 and repair, major overhaul and testing of certain S-76 and S-61 components.
AgustaWestland is flight-testing several aerodynamic improvements that promise to boost the performance of its AW609 tiltrotor. In fact, these modifications reduce the tiltrotor’s drag by about 10 percent and deliver a “significant” weight reduction, resulting in the performance increases. The company is also upgrading the AW609’s turboprop engines, avionics and flight-control system.
NASA researchers recently conducted drop tests of a Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight to test improved seats and seat belts. They recorded the crash from more than 350 data channels as the helicopter, suspended by cables, was dropped into a bed of soil from 30 feet up. Just before impact, pyrotechnic devices released the suspension cables from the helicopter to allow free flight toward impact with a forward speed of approximately 30 mph.
The Turkish government has tasked Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) with designing and building a home-grown helicopter to replace that country’s aging fleet of Bell UH-1s and for the export market. The deal could rely on a technology transfer from Sikorsky, and it is likely TAI will need to go engine shopping on the international market. TAI hopes to have a prototype flying within three years. Turkey is the world’s ninth-largest helicopter market, and its military estimates a need for up to 800 helicopters in the coming decade.
AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters signed an agreement last week at the MAKS airshow in Moscow for the joint design and development of a new light single-engine helicopter. The 50-50 joint program was first announced by the partners about a year ago.
The preliminary assessment of the 5,600-pound helicopter’s technical design is expected to be completed “in the next few months.” It is being designed for the worldwide market and a “wide range” of applications, the companies said.
Russian Helicopters’ Ansat light twin helicopter was certified late last week by Russia’s Aviation Register of the Interstate Aviation Committee, albeit with conventional flight controls in lieu of the original fly-by-wire (FBW) system.