Advanced human-machine interfaces now making their debut on business jets are finding their way into helicopter cockpits.
Eurocopter EC 145
Bell and Eurocopter posted large orders at the recent Air Medical Transport Conference (AMTC) held in Tampa, Fla., in September, selling a combined 50 helicopters. Bell received orders for 27, while Eurocopter sold 23.
Bell wrote orders for sixteen 206L-4 LongRangers from Air Evac Services,
Small but noteworthy helicopter equipment manufacturers found a suitable showcase for their products at Helitech 2007 in Duxford, England, early last month. Big OEMs Agusta-Westland, Bell, Enstrom, Eurocopter, MD Helicopters, Robinson and Sikor- sky (along with accompanying subsidiary Schweizer) were either present or represented, and they had sales to announce.
ILA has doubled in size since it moved to Berlin Schoenefeld Airport from Hanover 10 years ago. Opening on May 6, this year’s event attracted 1,067 exhibitors from 40 countries (up from 941 at ILA 2000) and 340 aircraft. During the first three days 90,000 trade visitors attended the event, 6,000 more than expected.
Although the shadow of the September 11 atrocity in the U.S. was evident at Helitech, the major American companies participated fully, and some praised both the exhibition and its new venue. Previously held at Redhill Aerodrome, conveniently close to London Gatwick Airport but all too often waterlogged, Helitech moved this year to Duxford Airfield’s hard runway and concrete apron–a switch that was widely welcomed.
The Eurocopter EC 145 has received the first certification for night vision goggle- aided civil operations. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the capability in May, and the FAA and Transport Canada (TC) are expected to follow suit this fall. The modification is available as original equipment and retrofit.
Police and emergency services helicopters have undergone a dramatic metamorphosis since the mid-1980s, evolving from the equivalent of the Sopwith Camel to a worthy contemporary of the Eurofighter Typhoon, according to McAlpine Helicopters commercial director Dick Richardson. McAlpine, a Eurocopter distributor, outfits public-service helicopters in the UK.
Air Methods’ products division has been selected by American Eurocopter to provide medical interiors, avionics and airframe accessories for the AS 350 and EC 130. Air Methods says it is capable of 10 to 20 conversions per year. Each conversion has a market value of approximately $500,000. Air Methods has performed almost 40 Eurocopter EMS modifications over the last four years.
Denver-based Air Methods Corporation has reached a definitive agreement to acquire all of FSS Airholdings’ stock, the parent company of medical helicopter provider CJ Systems. CJ operates 113 medevac helicopters and fixed wing aircraft and employs 800 nationwide. The deal is valued at $25 million and is expected to close by the end of October. Last year FSS posted a net income of $1.2 million on revenue of $128.8 million.
Eurocopter logged orders for 114 civil and military helicopters worth E1.2 billion at this year’s Paris Air Show and says it is on track to sell 700 helicopters this year. This summer the company also logged more orders from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which bought eight additional American Eurocopter AS 350B3 AStars in July.