Blackhawk Modifications of Waco, Texas, is in Atlanta this week to announce its latest engine power upgrade for the Beech King Air 200, the Dash 61 STC program featuring factory-new 850-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-61 turboshafts with a higher thermodynamic horsepower rating in place of the original PT6A-42 powerplants.
American Eurocopter has received an FAA aircraft production certificate to manufacture its U.S. Army UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter and EC 145 commercial variant at the company’s plant in Columbus, Miss. The first helicopter produced under the certificate was delivered to the Army on August 27.
The AgustaWestland/Bell/Lockheed Martin VH-71 made its first flight July 3 in Yeovil, UK. The 40-minute flight reached speeds of 135 knots and was reportedly uneventful, but there are likely challenges ahead for the program. The U.S. Navy is developing the VH-71 as a replacement for the 30-year-old Sikorsky VH-3Ds and somewhat newer N-60 “Whitehawks” that transport the President and other high-ranking government officials.
Indian-based manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) is making progress toward European certification of its Dhruv light-twin helicopter. A tentative schedule calls for European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification early in 2009. Indian deliveries began in 2002.
Eurocopter this summer unveiled two modernized facilities at Donauwörth, its main German industrial site. Its blade shop saw a complete re-engineering aimed at reducing lead times and optimizing the production process. Consequently, its production and repair capacities have increased by 40 percent. Design, engineering, production process and quality control and customer service are now housed in one building.
Sikorsky announced that the FAA has cleared the S-92 to take off and land in crosswinds up to 35 knots, versus the previous 20-knot limitation, and to carry additional payload based on calculated surplus engine power and specific flight conditions.
The Miami branch of the United States Customs and Border Protection (CPB) Office of Air and Marine has taken delivery of two AgustaWestland AW139s. The helicopters are equipped with multi-payload electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors, laser designator combined with EO/IR and multimode weather radar and communication systems. Systems integration was performed by L-3 Communications in Waco, Texas.
Sikorsky Aircraft has successfully ground tested fly-by-wire (FBW) technology that will debut on 28 H-92s slated for delivery in 2009 to Canadian military forces. The H-92 is the military variant of the S-92. Sikorsky partnered with BAE Systems to develop the FBW system.
Eurocopter will make its EC 145 available with certified night-vision goggle (NVG) capability in Europe, Canada and the U.S. The NVG configuration will be available for new helicopters and as a retrofit for those already in service. Eurocopter said it plans to extend NVG capability to the EC 135 next and to other models “on customer request.”
Sikorsky is confident its upgraded medium twin, the S-76D, will make its first flight in the fourth quarter of next year, said Bruce McKinney, v-p for Europe. Sikorsky engineers are building the all-composite blades for the main rotor. Pratt & Whitney Canada has been running three PW210S development engines. Wind-tunnel tests have been performed to check engine inlet icing.