Eurocopter used the Helitech show to highlight some recent contracts. First, the UK-based Avincis group announced a firm order for three EC225s. The first two aircraft will be delivered next month, with the third slated to arrive in next year’s second half.
Two faculty members from Penn State’s vertical-lift research center of excellence were honored recently at the fourth annual International Basic Research Conference on Rotorcraft Technology in Tianjin, China. Professor Edward Smith and research associate Jianhua Zhang were honored for their paper, “Influence of Aeroelasticity Tailored Wing Extensions and Winglets on Whirl Flutter Stability.” The research was underwritten by the National Rotorcraft Technology Center and the NASA Ames Research Center.
Oxford-based A2B Heli Maintenance is expanding the portfolio of helicopter types it works on. It plans to add Bell and AgustaWestland types to the current Sikorsky S-76 and Eurocopter EC120, AS350/355, EC135, AS365, EC155 and BO105. A2B, which holds EASA Part 145 approval, offers a range of services, from line maintenance to pre-buy survey and training.
Director Andy Bloxham expects to service 10 to 15 aircraft per yearas the three-year-old company becomes established. Under its airworthiness management activity, it already oversees 21 helicopters. A2B has seven employees.
AgustaWestland expects its AW189 and AW169 medium twins to achieve certification by the end of next year.
Sikorsky Aircraft is lobbying to replace AgustaWestland (AW) as the supplier of VIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force. The company is already building fuselages for the S-92 in India. Meanwhile, the Indian Minister of Defense confirmed that the ministry had sent a legal notice to AgustaWestland regarding the contract for 12 AW101s, now in jeopardy after the company allegedly violated the terms of a pre-integrity pact. The company has 21 days to respond.
Eurocopter has announced that its American Eurocopter subsidiary will upgrade its Columbus, Miss. facility, allowing it to serve as a final assembly and test site for the AS350. The AS350 work will offset a reduction in assembly operations on the UH-72A Lakota military helicopter and also help Eurocopter increase AS350 sales in the U.S. The model is the bestselling civil helicopter in the U.S.
Companies proposing either tiltrotor or compound helicopter designs have won contracts from the U.S. Army for its joint multi-role technology demonstration (JMR TD) Phase 1 program to develop a next-generation vertical-lift aircraft.
Bell Helicopter announced an upgrade program for its 412EPI that will increase the helicopter’s operational flexibility to meet future regulatory and mission needs. The program will focus on further testing and improvements of the rotorcraft’s Category A certification to provide increased operational flexibility for Cat A Part B procedures with respect to elevated heliports, as well as the use of circular and rectangular elevated heliports. The upgrade program will start next month and conclude early next year, allowing for deliveries of upgraded Bell 412EPIs to begin next year.
Chinese media recently reported that Avic officials have ambitions of entering the high-speed rotorcraft market. The airframer’s helicopter subsidiary is developing helicopters that will be able to reach 270 knots, said president Lin Zuoming. Meanwhile, Avicopter general manager Cai Yi stated, “Avicopter civil helicopters can join the ranks of the world’s most advanced,” adding that his company has mastered core technologies in key areas such as rotors, flight controls and avionics.
If you fly in a helicopter, NASA is interested in saving your posterior.