The tiltrotor test rig (TTR) development team at NASA Ames Research Center was honored today with a 2013 NASA Group Achievement Award. Team members include personnel from NASA Ames, Bell Helicopter and Triumph Aerospace Systems. The TTR is a joint project among NASA, the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force to develop a new large-scale system that can test prop-rotors up to 26 feet in diameter at speeds up to 300 knots, allowing for advanced research on tiltrotors and other rotorcraft concepts.
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.
The Eurocopter X3 hybrid made its record-breaking speed run just 10 days before the opening of the Paris Air Show, so it was not surprising that the EADS company brought both the unique aircraft and its crew to the Le Bourget biennial event. On June 7, the X3 flew at 255 knots in level flight and 263 knots in a dive, besting the previous record set by the Sikorsky X2 in September 2010 (250 knots level and 260 knots in descent).
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.
The EASA approved the interim solution–a combination of vibration monitoring, inspections and part modification–that Eurocopter devised for the EC225 to address main gearbox (MGB) lubrication issues after the type experienced two controlled ditchings last year. The manufacturer’s fix is intended to reduce the likelihood of an undetected crack, leading to in-flight rupture and ditching, to one per billion flight hours. At issue is the bevel gear vertical shaft, a part that is critical to main gearbox lubrication.
Milestone Aviation Group, the helicopter leasing firm headed by NetJets founder Richard Santulli, closed a new $300 million credit facility yesterday. The company will use these proceeds to acquire and lease helicopters–including Sikorsky S-92s, Eurocopter EC225s and AgustaWestland AW189s and AW139s–valued at $400 million to affiliates of Bristow Group. The credit facility is the largest ever for a helicopter lessor, the company said.
The German defense ministry ordered 15 Eurocopter EC645T2 light utility helicopters worth €194 million. They will be used by the Kommando Spezialkraefte, Germany’s Special Forces Command. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in late 2015 and run through mid-2017.
The first ICH-47F Chinook helicopter destined for the Italian army made its maiden flight on June 24 at Vergiate, in northern Italy, program prime contractor AgustaWestland announced.
The FAA proposes a new airworthiness directive for the Eurocopter EC135P1, EC135P2, EC135P2+, EC135T1, EC135T2 and EC135T2+. It requires analyzing the main gearbox (MGB) oil for indications of metal chips or pieces, reviewing the MGB log or equivalent record, and inspecting certain teeth in the MGB after two chip indications.
Preliminary Report: Turboprop Accident in Nepal #1
De Havilland Canada DHC-6, Jomsom Airport (VNJS), Nepal, May 16, 2013–The Twin Otter was destroyed while landing at Nepal’s Jomsom Airport, seriously injuring six of 21 people aboard. Operated in regular passenger service by Nepal Airlines, the twin turboprop skidded off the airport’s 1,742-foot runway, traveled down a nearby slope and came to rest on the banks of the Kali Gandaki River.
Preliminary Report: Turboprop Accident in Nepal #2