HAI Convention News

Van Horn Customers Anxious for Composite LongRanger Blades

 - March 2, 2016, 6:50 PM

Interest in Van Horn Aviation’s new carbon-fiber main rotor blade for the Bell 206B Jet Ranger is growing and evident here at Heli-Expo 2016. Aero Products Component Services (Booth 8733) announced yesterday that it has placed an initial purchase order for two sets of the new blades, with the first delivery planned April 1 and the second May 6.

“Our decision to capture first-run delivery positions for the new product was based largely on customer feedback and their overwhelming acceptance of the earlier-released VHA composite 206B/L tailrotor blades,” said Aero Products president Ted Johnson.

With the shiny white, carbon-fiber main rotor blade for the Bell 206B dominating Van Horn Aviation’s Heli-Expo booth (10733), Dean Rosenlof, Van Horn president, finds the experience different–in a good way–from his experiences at previous Heli-Expo shows.

“Before,” he told AIN, “I was used to explaining to people where we were in the development of the blade, how we were doing it and the challenges we were facing. Now, with the blade certified by the FAA, customers want to know when they can get it and how much the 2,900-hour overhaul will cost. Well, we haven’t figured that out yet, because the first overhauls are several years away. But I understand why customers want to know.”

The Van Horn main rotor blades have an 18,000-hour service life, more than triple the life of current OEM 206B metal blades, and require an overhaul every 2,900 hours to maintain this service life. The Van Horn blade lists for $79,500 apiece.

“We have two goals that are priorities for us right now,” Rosenlof said. “One is to increase the production rate of our 206B MRB and the other is to develop a similar blade for the Long Ranger.”

To that end, the company, which is based in Tempe, Ariz., has acquired a Bell Long Ranger for flight testing and plans to begin flying the helicopter with VHA composite Long Ranger main rotor blades by the end of the year. “We’re targeting certification of the blade in 2017,” Rosenlof added.