Turning heads at Le Bourget whenever it takes to the skies is Kamov’s Ka-52 helicopter. Its co-axial rotor blades and comprehensive weapons suite mark it out from the herd and, amazingly for a helicopter, it even has ejection seats. With the Ka-52 now in Russian army service and being touted for export, the design bureau is busy working on a maritime version for the Russian navy.
On March 26 this year the UK’s Department for Transport announced that Bristow Helicopters (part of the U.S.-based Bristow Group) had won the contract to provide a search and rescue helicopter service for the whole of the UK. The 10-year, £1.6 billion contract will officially begin implementation in April 2015, and will be fully in place by 2017, managed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
More than 8,000 Russian rotorcraft are in operation in more than hundred countries around the world–twenty types and around forty variants with major upgrades. Their manufacturer, Russian Helicopters (Hall 2a, Stand C198), which claims it has 14 percent of the world’s fleet, reported a profit of Roubles 9.4 billion ($300 million) in 2012–and a hefty 21 percent rise in revenues, to RUB125.7 billion.
Eurocopter announced today that its X3 compound helicopter demonstrator flew at 255 knots in level flight on Friday near Istres in southeast France. Also part of the unofficial speed record was a descent at 263 knots. These speeds are just a few knots higher than those the Sikorsky X2 semi-compound demonstrator attained in 2010.
The U.S. Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate selected Bell Helicopter Textron, a Boeing-Sikorsky team and AVX Aircraft among contractors invited to participate in the joint multi-role technology demonstrator (JMR-TD) program with new rotorcraft designs, the companies confirmed. They expect the Army will award JMR-TD contracts by September. The first demonstrator flights are planned in 2017.
Helicopter broker Heli Asset has sold the first Eurocopter EC155B1 medium twin into Switzerland, according to the Paris-based company. Zurich-based business aviation charter operator Heli-Link, a subsidiary company of DC Aviation of Germany, took delivery of the 2008 EC155, configured with eight VIP seats. Heli Asset says it placed 18 helicopters in 2012.
Eurocopter revealed a mockup of the executive version of its EC175 medium-twin helicopter today at EBACE and is also offering an even more luxurious VIP version. Prices for the new variants are around €17 million ($22 million) and vary with options. The VIP version is some €500,000 ($650,000) more expensive than the executive option.
Although business has been tough for UK helicopter charter companies in recent times, Capital Air Services is in the process of increasing its managed fleet with the addition of two Sikorsky S-76++ helicopters. This will bring the S-76 fleet to three, to operate alongside a Eurocopter EC155 and a pair of EC135s.
The U.S. Navy restarted the VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program by issuing a final request for proposals on May 3. The next day, Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) officially welcomed a new type into the presidential fleet–the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor–which will be used in a support role to carry White House staff and reporters following the President.
On April 9, the NTSB held a public meeting to discuss the crash of a LifeNet helicopter in Mosby, Mo., on Aug. 26, 2011. The Eurocopter AS350B2 ran out of fuel, according to the NTSB, and the pilot failed “to successfully enter an autorotation when the engine lost power due to fuel exhaustion.” What the pilot did not do, the Board explained, is move the cyclic control aft when the engine failed.