UK-based helicopter charter specialist PremiAir has added another Eurocopter EC 155 to its fleet, bringing its total to 17 executive helicopters under management, including Sikorsky S-76s, Eurocopter AS 355 Twin Squirrels and a Bell 222. In addition, the company is in the midst of a major redevelopment of its heliport at Battersea, London’s only such CAA-licensed public facility.
There are good times ahead for helicopter manufacturers, if the latest market forecasts are anything to go by. Forecast International recently projected sales of more than 14,000 helicopters worth some $30 billion in the next decade. If this year’s Heli-Expo is anything like last year’s–where sales tallies exceeded $730 million–the manufacturers will have to contend with backlogs that extend even farther into the future.
Bristow Helicopters is suing Sikorsky and its parent company, United Technologies, for negligence over a crash in which a Sikorsky S-76A plunged into the North Sea last July, killing all 11 people on board. In a lawsuit brought before a London court, Bristow alleges that faulty repair work was performed on a main rotor blade three years before, when that blade was hit by lightning while on another S-76A, also operated by Bristow.
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.
A well known name is returning to British skies with creation of a new rotorcraft operation to support North Sea oil and gas exploration and production activity. The name is Bond, Bond Offshore Helicopters (BOH), and it will be licensed to fly.
They’re the unsung heroes of the highwire, the workers who straddle live high-tension transmission lines, wires literally sizzling with their lethal load. Suspended in midair by a helicopter, stabilized by the rock-solid hand of a steady-hovering pilot, line crews would be hard-pressed to repair aging powerline infrastructure as quickly or as well in isolated areas.
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.
Archrivals AgustaWestland and Eurocopter will join forces on a major environmental research program that will include integration technology demonstrators (ITDs) for a greener helicopter. The project–part of the larger E1.6 billion ($2.2 billion) Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative–is expected to yield innovations such as smart blades for the main rotor and electric drive for the tail rotor.
A Boeing Vertol BV-107 operated by Columbia Helicopters of Portland, Ore., crashed in August during a maintenance check flight in southern Montana, killing all three men aboard. Dead are pilot Rich Hernandez, 37; copilot Santi Arovitx, 28; and crew chief Kip Krigbaum, 45. The big twin-rotor helo, a civil derivative of the military’s CH-46, went down for as yet unexplained reasons about 9:30 a.m.
As the month of May came to a close, a team of Boeing engineers were putting the finishing touches to a one-of-a-kind flying machine at an outpost of that company’s “Phantom Works” just outside the sun- and sand-blasted southwestern Arizona town of Yuma.