Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas, delivered the first Bell 429 customer aircraft to launch customer Air Methods on August 1, after which S/N 57006 flew south from Bell’s assembly facility in Mirabel, Quebec, to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa.
Following Transport Canada certification and FAA validation of the Bell 429 in July, Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas, delivered the first aircraft, S/N 57006, to launch customer Air Methods on August 1. The current Bell 429 fleet (two prototypes, three flight test and two customer aircraft) has accumulated more than 2,200 hours.
Eurocopter AS 350B2 Ecureuil, Loris, S.C., July 2, 2009–The AS 350 suffered substantial damage while landing to pick up a patient at a hospital helipad. The tail rotor struck a steel pole, causing vibration and forcing the pilot to land immediately and shut down.
The greater Las Vegas area has the highest and most competitive concentration of helicopter tour operators in the U.S. They have traditionally survived with heavy discounting, under-the-table commissions paid to tour bookers and concierges, low pay, high employee turnover and aging aircraft.
Eurocopter’s new high-compression, diesel engine is expected to bring better environmental performance to turbine-powered helicopters as large as the EC 135.
The goal of the program is to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 percent and NOx emissions by 53 percent. The company announced the program, dubbed “Bluecopter,” at the Paris Air Show in June.
Sikorsky S-76A, Santa Maria, Calif., June 27, 2008–The pilot’s misjudgment of clearance from an object during a hovering turn for landing was the probable cause of the crash of an S-76A operated under Part 135 by Arctic Air Service, the NTSB has determined. Contributing to the accident was an inadequately marked heliport surface and the close proximity of an obstruction to the landing area.
Bell 222, Milliken, Colo., March 13, 2009–Several parts were seen to fall off the helicopter while in flight, landing in the observer’s yard and the neighboring property. The commercial pilot said he was flying in cruise at approximately 1,500 feet when he felt “a bump on the controls,” heard a bang and thought he had hit a bird. The pilot returned to his departure airport 45 miles away.
A Eurocopter EC 145 operated by France’s emergency preparedness organization, Sécurité Civile, crashed on April 25 on the French island of Corsica, killing all five occupants–both flight crewmembers, one doctor, one young mother and the baby she had given birth to in flight. The twin-turbine helicopter was flying above rugged terrain in bad weather.
Eurocopter is working on a compound helicopter with a single main rotor, a fixed wing with two propellers in puller configuration and no tail rotor, probably in response to Sikorsky’s X2 and Bell/Agusta Aerospace’s BA609 Tiltrotor, which are attempts to create a faster rotorcraft. The Marignane, France-based helicopter manufacturer in May last year filed a patent application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The Eurocopter EC 145 is carving a growing niche among EMS helicopter operators for one main reason: cabin space. The EC 145 features 213 cu ft of cabin space and 50.8 sq ft of tracked flat floor space with enough room, in a pinch, for two patient litters and three medical attendants.