Helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky (Stand L39) is outsourcing more of its civil production to India and China, while scaling down its partnership with Japan-based Mitsubishi Heavy In-dustries (MHI). The company also announced that China’s AVIC subsidiary Changhe Aircraft has delivered the first S-76C++ airframe built in China, and that India’s Tata Advanced Systems will be building S-92 cabins.
Both product support and research and development have taken hits in the helicopter industry as cash flow and current sales shrink, while future orders are clouded by important changes and growing uncertainty in key customer sectors.
China’s Aviation Industry Corporation’s (Avic) Changhe subsidiary has completed its first Sikorsky S-76C++ airframe at its plant near Shanghai. It will now be shipped to Sikorsky’s Coatesville, Pa. facility for completion. Changhe will manufacture more S-76 airframes this year.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is changing its voluntary operational evaluations to mandatory operational suitability (OS) approvals for new aircraft designs. This appears as an extension of type certification, at additional cost to manufacturers. The new rule will take effect in 2012.
India’s Tata Sons has formed a joint venture with Sikorsky to make parts, including cabin components, for Sikorsky’s S-92A and other aircraft, including those from other OEMs, beginning in 2012. In an agreement announced last month, Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) and Sikorsky said they would construct a new parts-manufacturing facility in Hyderabad in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
The latest main gearbox (MGB) problem for the Sikorsky S-92A: foot-mount cracking that could lead to the complete separation of the MGB and subsequent loss of helicopter control.
Canada-based offshore operator VIH Aviation Group (VIH) and New Zealand-based HNZ Group last month announced the formation of a joint venture to provide offshore helicopter services in Australia and its coastal regions.
Rolls-Royce boosted availability of RR300 engine parts and customer services by signing an exclusive distribution agreement with AAR. According to Rolls-Royce Helicopter Engine business president Ken Roberts, the worldwide AAR group
will provide a turnkey solution for RR300 operators around the clock. The RR300 turboshaft has been selected by Robinson Helicopter to power its new R66 and
The reformed European Helicopter Association–operating under the acronym newEHA–publicly touched down for the first time at the 2009 Helitech show at Duxford, UK, albeit having had to adopt a slightly revised flight plan. At the 11th hour, the European HEMS and Air Ambulance Committee (EHAC) opted not to merge with newEHA.
By the time you read this, it is likely that Bell Helicopter will have received Transport Canada type certification for its twin-turbine Bell 429 light helicopter. Though not quite as likely, the FAA might also have validated Transport Canada’s TC, since the U.S. agency has been following the process closely.