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.
It was six years ago that Sabreliner decided to enter the helicopter modification business. The company has since found a growing niche market in UH-60M Black Hawk modification and cabin refurbishment, transforming these rough-and-tumble combat aircraft into luxurious executive transport for heads-of-state around the world.
The St. Louis-based company most recently delivered executive variants of the Black Hawk to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, bringing the total number of highly modified UH-60Ms to 11.
A Russian-owned Mi-8 helicopter being flown on July 31 in support of the United Nations World Food Program crashed in Ethiopia while en route to South Sudan. The helicopter was carrying four people–two pilots and two passengers–at the time of the accident. The extent of injuries to those aboard was not reported.
Bell Helicopter is providing more details on the Short Light Single (SLS) helicopter it announced at the Paris Air Show in June. Performance goals for the SLS include a speed of 125 knots, a range of 360 to 420 nm, a useful load of 1,500 pounds and a ceiling of 11,000 feet.
The bid deadline for the U.S. Navy’s high-profile VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program closed on August 1 with apparently only one bidder—Sikorsky Aircraft—submitting a proposal. The Navy declined to identify the number of bids received, but other companies that had earlier announced plans to compete for the VXX contract confirmed that they have decided not to submit proposals.
Contract negotiations between the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate and AVX Helicopter, Bell Helicopter and the Sikorsky/Boeing team–the potential Phase I vendors for the joint multi-role technology demonstrator (JMR-TD)–are nearing completion. Announcement of the awards for a new U.S. Army medium helicopter are planned for September, according to an Army spokesman.