Eurocopter Canada has announced the delivery of its 500th helicopter in the country–an AS355 NP Ecureuil light twin. The NP is an upgraded version with Turbomeca Arrius 1A1 engines that provide a 20-percent payload improvement. Customer Phoenix Heli-Flight is based in Fort McMurray, Alberta. It performs medevac, firefighting, passenger transport and various kinds of aerial work operations.
At last month’s Paris Air Show Eurocopter delivered the first upgraded Ecureuil/TwinStar, the AS 355NP, its current light twin offering. According to the Marignane, France-based manufacturer, the helicopter offers better performance, an enhanced cockpit and improved cabin interior. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the aircraft on February 15. Transport Canada and Russian certifications are expected later this year.
The new Eurocopter AS 355 NP Ecureuil on display here at Le Bourget will shortly be delivered to the first customer, Scandinavian Helicopter Group. The Swedish operator uses its fleet of rotorcraft mainly for passenger transport and aerial work.
Here at the Paris Air Show, helicopter engine manufacturer Turbomeca announced three contracts for its support-by-the-hour (SBH) scheme.
Eurocopter, already the world’s largest helicopter manufacturer, shows no signs that its meteoric sales pace will let up anytime soon.
Last year the company delivered 381 new helicopters worth more than $5 billion and booked orders for 615 helicopters with a combined value of $6.45 billion. Those figures represent a substantial increase from Eurocopter’s 2005 order book, valued at $4.64 billion.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has certified the Arrius 1A1, a new version of Turbomeca’s Arrius turboshaft. The 463-shp engine will power the Eurocopter AS 355NP twin turbine. On the 1A1, a new high-pressure turbine enables a higher one-engine-inoperative rating, meaning that the helicopter retains category-A performance under hotter, higher and heavier conditions. The 1A1 is fitted with a fadec.
Accentuating the positive attributes of helicopters for business travelers, Eurocopter is displaying here at the EBACE show two of its most popular twin-engine models with corporate interiors–an EC 135 and an EC 155 B1. Both were recently delivered to customers.
Eurocopter has now sold more than 500 EC 135s (nearly 90 of those ordered in 2005 alone) and 50 percent of those were destined for U.S. customers. Now the OEM is in the final stages of certifying a new model, offering an increased takeoff weight, from 6,237 pounds to 6,402 pounds and a reduction in empty weight to 3,201 pounds.
Eurocopter AS 355F1, Andover, England, Dec. 2, 2003–G-XCEL was on a test flight after it had been fitted with overhauled rotor drive gearboxes. Witnesses heard a “loud screeching mechanical noise,” then saw the tailboom appear to fold forward alongside the cabin and saw the helicopter fall to the ground. The pilot was killed, as were the two maintenance engineers on board.
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