While many medium to large turbine helicopters offer autopilots to enhance mission safety and comfort, Sikorsky is in the final stages of developing an automatic flight control system (AFCS) that the company says will be the first of its kind to fly automated approaches to a set position.
Search and rescue
The recent delivery of the last of 16 AgustaWestland Super Lynx 300 helicopters to the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) has boosted export prospects for a program that is extending the life of a highly successful design. Oman has bought the Super Lynx, powered by two Rolls-Royce/Honeywell LHTEC CTS800 engines, to replace aging single-engine Bell 205s–an application that should be of interest to other operators of the venerable Huey.
Sarbe is synonymous with search and rescue and personal locator beacons (PLBs) and the Signature Industries’ company is launching a new emergency locator transmitter (ELT) approved to Cospas-Sarsat standards. The new product was initially developed to support the requirements of a major export customer who had concerns about the crash survivability of existing ELTs carried in military rotary-wing aircraft.
Starting July 1, 2008, all private and commercial airplanes operating internationally will need to carry at least one emergency locator transmitter, according to a proposed standard from the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The first of four Super Lynx 300 maritime helicopters destined for South Africa is on display here at the Farnborough airshow at Finmeccanica’s Outside Exhibit area (OE2).
The UK Ministry of Defence is spending more than $1.35 billion to upgrade the Merlin Mk 1 large maritime helicopter which has been operational for less than five years. The upgrade is necessary because the Merlin has been so long in development that its computer systems have become obsolete. It also signifies a determination to maintain helicopter systems engineering skills in the UK.
Imagine that a malfunction on an aircraft forces the captain to make an emergency crash landing in the middle of an unforgiving landmass, such as Siberia, a thousand miles from anywhere. There are survivors, but in the frozen wastes of the north, with roads at a premium, there is little hope and not much time. Even the nearest hospital is completely out of reach.
AgustaWestland recently announced several orders from African countries and Switzerland. The Nigerian government has signed a contract for four AW139s configured for search-and-rescue missions. Separately, the South African National Port Authority has selected the A109 Power for its harbor pilot shuttle in Richards Bay. In addition, a South African entrepreneur ordered a Grand.
Compared with the mass of modern Bells and Eurocopters that fly for the myriad law enforcement agencies protecting and serving Californians, the air unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) emerges as something of a one-off. In addition to a fleet of 12 AStar B2s, which provide day-to-day support to the officers in the black-and-whites, the largest sheriff’s flight department in the nation also fields four aging ex-U.S.
The FAA issued a notice last month reminding operators that satellite processing of distress signals from 121.5 and 243 MHz emergency locator transmitters is scheduled to end on Feb. 1, 2009. Operators will have to switch to ELTs operating at 406 MHz, which are more reliable and provide search-and-rescue agencies more complete information for detection by satellites.