The Rolls-Royce Pegasus-powered roar that rent the air at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport in Leonardtown, Md., last November heralded a most unusual first flight, that of the only civilian British Aerospace (Hawker Siddeley) Harrier in the world. At the controls was Art Nalls, a former Marine and Harrier test pilot who fell in love with the Harrier the first time he flew one.
Bell/Agusta Aerospace engineers working on the BA609 Tiltrotor have stepped up their certification efforts and now plan more than 100 hours of flight testing this year–a major acceleration over the 300 hours logged since 2003. However, the first flight of the third prototype faces yet another delay. Bell/Agusta now expects certification of the hybrid helicopter/airplane design in three years.
North American and European OEMs are proceeding with the development of new models for the booming civil helicopter market across a broad product spectrum, from light singles to medium twins. Almost all OEMs are reporting record or near-record deliveries, robust orders and significant backlogs. For example, a Bell 429 ordered today would not be delivered until 2014. The weakened U.S.
BELL 407, HIGH ISLAND 443, GULF OF MEXICO, FEB. 22, 2003–At approximately 9:45 a.m. CST N740PH’s main rotor blades struck and killed a passenger during a hot refueling operation on offshore platform High Island 443 (HI 443) in the Gulf of Mexico. The ATP-rated pilot and a second passenger were not injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Petroleum Helicopters Inc. of Lafayette, La.
Taking its place on Bell Helicopter’s Arlington, Texas, tiltrotor test stands for the first time last month, the long-awaited first of a planned four Bell/ Agusta 609 convertiplane prototypes began its engine runups in December. First flight is loosely scheduled for the first quarter of this year. The six- to 10-passenger aircraft will undergo a planned 40 to 50 hr of static testing before flight.
Rotorcraft design has reached a plateau and advancements are taking place in incremental steps rather than as major breakthroughs. That was the prevailing message of a day-long workshop about the past, present and future of rotorcraft held at the University of Maryland’s Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center.
This year marks the 100th birthday of the helicopter, but it is actually difficult to be sure who deserves the title of “first to fly a manned rotorcraft.” Frenchmen Louis Breguet, Paul Cornu and Maurice Léger all achieved some sort of takeoff in 1907, but in reality this branch of aviation began more than a century before.
Last Friday morning the Bell/Agusta BA609 civil tiltrotor flew over Central Texas with its outboard nacelles rotating forward to full airplane mode for the first time. BA609 project pilot Roy Hopkins and Bell pilot Jim Lindsey said the powered-lift aircraft reached 190 knots in this configuration.
fter flying the Bell/Agusta AB139, it is easy to see why Amedeo Caporaletti, president of Agusta and CEO of AgustaWestland, believes that this helicopter sets new standards for medium twins. The 13,227-pound-mtow AB139 meets the stringent standards imposed by both the European JARs and FAR Part 29, including all amendments.
After a hiatus of more than two years, the Bell/Agusta BA609 civil tiltrotor returned to flight status on June 3, flying for 1.3 hours. The aircraft, S/N001 and the only BA609 to fly to date, last flew on April 14, 2003, after accumulating 14 flight hours from the time of its first flight on March 7 of that year. It also logged some 41 ground test hours.