Prompted by industry demand, the FAA is considering approving the installation and use of TCAS II aboard helicopters but is concerned about certification challenges. Major operators have been successfully using TCAS II for several years in regions such as the North Sea.
Helicopter manufacturers aren’t immune to the pressure to update their machines with modern avionics, and last year MD Helicopters and Universal Avionics Systems unveiled a new NextGen flight deck mockup for the MD 902 Explorer. The new avionics replace aging Bendix/King EFIS 40 cathode-ray-tube displays with high-resolution 10.4-inch Universal LCDs in landscape orientation.
CEO Kurt Robinson said he is focusing on keeping his family’s helicopter company “lean and mean to provide a good product at a competitive price” to bring value to its customers. “We’re going to keep our pencils sharpened,” he told AIN. Robinson Helicopter posted another strong year in 2013, producing 523 helicopters, up from 517 in 2012 and a long climb from the 2010 rate of 162. As was the case in 2012, the piston-powered R44 continues to be the top seller, with 289 produced in 2013; but the $839,000 turbine-single R66, with 192 already delivered, remains the company cash cow.
Revue Thommen’s HSL 1600 searchlight has been selected by Sikorsky for outfitting on S-92 helicopters configured for search-and-rescue (SAR) missions. The HSL 1600 features an integrated IR-filter and laser pointer and a detection range exceeding 1,600 meters.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced today that the country’s government has approved the purchase of eight Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. The first aircraft is scheduled to enter service at RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia in 2017, and all eight are due for delivery by 2021. The initial deal is worth AUS$4 billion ($3.59 billion), of which around a quarter will be spent in Australia on aircraft support and base facilities. A further four aircraft are held as options. Australia becomes the second export customer for the Poseidon, following India.
The UK CAA unveiled a series of stringent measures today as a result of a review it launched last September to improve the safety of helicopter operations in the North Sea. These changes are expected to improve survivability after a ditching.
Garmin announced an updated version of its Garmin Pilot iOS app that includes synthetic vision as an option for premium subscribers. Dubbed SVX, the new feature displays GPS-derived airspeed, altitude and vertical speed overlaid on a 3-D topographic landscape. When paired with Garmin’s GDL 39 3D Bluetooth ADS-B receiver, back-up aircraft attitude information can also be displayed on top of the synthetic display in Garmin Pilot. The Garmin Pilot app is free, but an annual subscription (starting at $74.99 per year) is required.
Sandel Avionics released its latest upgrades to the SG102 (MOD2) AHRS, a solid-state, three-axis instrument certified for primary heading reference and standby attitude. Enhancements include a three-times-faster initialization time of one minute, and added selectable low- and high-speed Arinc 429 output, which allows for additional interface options with radar systems, satcom antennas and other avionics. The SG102 (MOD2) AHRS is being shipped now.
The first robot built for Airbus’s Futurassy research and technology project arrived at the airframer’s Puerto Real plant in Cadiz, Spain, this week. The riveting unit, built by Japan’s Kawada, will help Airbus machinists assemble A380 rudder spars.
Epic Aircraft said it remains on schedule to certify its E1000 all-composite turboprop single by the middle of next year. Deliveries of the $2.75 million airplane are slated to begin in the second half of next year.
The E1000 will be a certified version of the kit-built Epic LT with a 1,200-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-67A engine and Garmin G1000 glass cockpit. Preliminary performance and specifications include a 325-knot top cruise speed, 1,600-nm range and a 34,000-foot ceiling.