Eurocopter AS 350BA, Brooklyn, N.Y., May 4, 2004–The NTSB blamed the crash of Helinet Aviation Services’ WNBC News Chopper 4 on the pilot’s failure to maintain control after a loss of hydraulic system pressure.
Eurocopter AS 350-B2, Nuiqsut, Alaska, Aug. 21, 2006–The commercial pilot of the AS 350, the sole occupant, was killed when it crashed into a lake in marginal and deteriorating weather conditions.
Archrivals AgustaWestland and Eurocopter will join forces on a major environmental research program that will include integration technology demonstrators (ITDs) for a greener helicopter. The project–part of the larger E1.6 billion ($2.2 billion) Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative–is expected to yield innovations such as smart blades for the main rotor and electric drive for the tail rotor.
Transport Canada (TC) has issued an Urgent Airworthiness Directive that calls for the inspection of certain tail-rotor components. The directive covers eight Bell Helicopter alert service bulletins for the 206, 222, 230, 407, 427 and 430.
TC identified the concern as “Balance weights departing from the tail-rotor blades during flight. The cause has been narrowed down to missing weight screws. This failure can happen at any time.”
As the month of May came to a close, a team of Boeing engineers were putting the finishing touches to a one-of-a-kind flying machine at an outpost of that company’s “Phantom Works” just outside the sun- and sand-blasted southwestern Arizona town of Yuma.
Tail-rotor failure appears to be the culprit in the May 4 crash of a Eurocopter AS 350 news helicopter in New York City. But the NTSB said that tail-rotor control continuity could not be determined because of the extensive damage caused when the helicopter slammed onto a rooftop in Brooklyn, N.Y. The WNBC-TV helicopter, N4NY, crashed into a four-story building before breaking in two and falling onto a two-story building.
Bell 206L-3 LongRanger, Whiteriver, Ariz., July 26, 2003–The NTSB found that the crash of the LongRanger firefighting ferry flight was the result of the commercial pilot’s failure to maintain a minimum translational lift airspeed while maneuvering in high density-altitude conditions (calculated to be 11,968 feet) at near maximum required torque and above the in-ground-effect hover altitude.
Retrofit technology that could turn the Pentagon’s fleet of Black Hawks and other helicopters into 200-knot, high-altitude speedsters, and later be applied to the civil market, is one step closer to reality.
Frank Robinson, the 74-year-old firm-handed founder, chairman and president of Robinson Helicopter, says that as long as he’s sitting behind the big desk he’ll do exactly what he pleases. What pleases him? “Keeping it simple,” he explained, “and when I retire or die, whoever takes my place, hopefully, keeps that long-standing philosophy of mine alive.”
Sikorsky S-76A, Houston, April 19, 2006–The S-76A was hovering at West Houston Airport (IWS) when tail rotor control was lost. Registered to and operated by Houston Helicopters of Pearland, Texas, the helicopter was substantially damaged, but the commercial pilot, copilot and eight passengers were uninjured.