The U.S. Coast Guard’s fleet of 96 Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin helicopters surpassed one million flight hours on September 20. The USCG first acquired the twin-engine HH-65 in 1985 and uses the helicopters for patrol, law enforcement, armed interdiction and rescue missions throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean from 17 land bases and aboard ships. The HH-65 is a variant of the Eurocopter AS 365 Dauphin.
Eurocopter and the world-renowned house of Hermès revealed their “l’Hélicoptère par Hermès,” an EC 135 with a decidedly upscale interior. The project began after officials from both companies met at EBACE in Geneva in May 2005, held discussions for six months and decided to cooperate on a joint project that culminated in the special edition of the EC 135 on display at the NBAA show.
Like its predecessors, it would be the most widely recognized helicopter in the world– the personal transport for the world’s most powerful leader, a leader who has traveled by helicopter since the mid-1950s. And a leader who had traveled in the same make and almost the same model of American-made helicopter most of those days.
In the arcane world of helicopter rotor aerodynamics, two concepts that show promise for enhancing safety and performance in the world of high-density-altitude heavy lift are under development on opposite sides of the U.S. Briefings on both were presented at the American Helicopter Society’s annual forum last month in Phoenix.
Amid numerous press accounts of helicopter heroism during the war in Iraq comes this story of the sort of everyday utility humanitarianism that should walk hand-in-hand with power. Last March 15, the U.S. Navy frigate USS Crommelin was assigned to locate a fishing vessel reported to have a badly injured crewman off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
Breaking into a market that has traditionally favored U.S.-made products, British defense systems builder GKN has aced a $1.5 billion helicopter deal with the Japanese navy. GKN’s 13-helicopter order comes just weeks after Sikorsky voluntarily withdrew its S-92 from the same competition.
Proving perhaps that nothing sweeps cleaner than a new broom, Bell Helicopter CEO Mike Redenbaugh, in the job since late May, has announced plans to move Bell’s military helicopter manufacturing out of its historic Fort Worth, Texas facility and into a new site in Amarillo, Texas. The Amarillo site will also handle final assembly for the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, according to a recent message from Redenbaugh.
At a time when the progress of big-ticket military helicopter programs is measured in decades, it is worth noting that the first Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche production line opened September 17 at Sikorsky’s Bridgeport, Conn. plant.
Sikorsky president Steve Finger said that Schweizer’s “ability for rapid prototyping makes the company an excellent choice for advanced concept evaluation and its focus on product safety aligns well with our own.” In fact, Schweizer is such a good match for Sikorsky that Finger bought the company. The sale of the Horseheads, N.Y.
AgustaWestland appointed former Bell CEO John Murphey to run Agusta-WestlandBell (AWB), the joint-venture company formed to manage the US-101 helicopter program. The US-101 and Sikorsky S-92 are the two finalists in the competition to replace the current fleet of Marine One helicopters that carry the President.