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.
American Eurocopter announced several new initiatives at the recent Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA) annual convention, most of them related to how the company supports the more than 200 AS350 AStars in use with U.S. law-enforcement agencies.
Three of the four Sukhoi T-50 prototypes now flying came together in formation over the Moscow Air Show at Zhukovsky this week. According to the organizers of MAKS 2013, one-third of the more than 1,000 exhibiting companies were from abroad.
Eurocopter reported “an important new milestone” in the Tiger combat helicopter program with the first flight of a Spanish-assembled HAD version. It will be the first to enter service with the Spanish army, by year-end. A prototype HAD/E that was assembled and flown in France has been performing the certification and qualification flight campaign in Spain since 2010. The French Army also ordered the HAD; Eurocopter delivered the first of 40 HAD/Fs last April for operational evaluation. Spain has ordered 24 HADs; six will be upgraded from HAP versions already delivered to that country.
AgustaWestland is preparing the way to possible final assembly of its helicopters in Brazil with plans to expand the São Paulo facilities of its local subsidiary. Construction is due to be completed by the end of 2014 and the enlarged facility will also be used to accommodate a training center, bonded warehouse, workshop space and a heliport.
Sikorsky Aircraft is developing a set of hardware and software capabilities to support autonomous flight of unmanned or optionally piloted vertical-lift aircraft. Executives said the goal is to deliver an order of magnitude improvement in the safety and reliability of unmanned aircraft, which experience losses at a rate of once every 1,000 flight hours.
Mitsubishi has contracted with Sikorsky to acquire 11 S-76Ds for search-and-rescue operations by the Japan Coast Guard. Meanwhile, in China, Citic Offshore Helicopter has ordered two S-92s for offshore oil transportation. Sikorsky plans to deliver the new S-92s in December next year and March 2015. In another Chinese deal, Sikorsky and Zhuhai Helicopter announced a contract for four Sikorsky S-92s to be used for offshore missions.