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  • New Survitec Emergency Breathing System Offers More Air
    by Mark Huber on December 2, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    Survitec's new Emergency Breathing System (EBS) offers offshore helicopter passengers and crew more air. December 2, 2020, 5:10 PMSurvitec is introducing a new compressed air (CA) emergency breathing system (EBS) for offshore helicopter passengers and crew. The EBS can be deployed in a single action, using one hand, and is already integrated into the company’s Halo lifejacket, introduced last year. It features a mouthpiece with an integrated nose clip, a braided low-pressure hose, larger reinforced carbon composite compressed air cylinder, and weight of just 2.09 pounds. “The introduction of a 310 bar cylinder allows us to substantially increase the amount of breathable air available for use by the user in a water-impact scenario,” said Nigel Parkes, Survitec's head of lifejacket design. “By combining composite materials within a pocket shielded and reinforced for impact protection, our design teams have also delivered a much lighter, more resilient CA-EBS,” Survitec noted that the primary reason for developing the new EBS was the additional air demand from someone panicking or is otherwise under extreme stress. Its new EBS delivers 80 percent more air than required by UK Civil Aviation Authority CAP 1034 guidelines. Developed in 2013, that standard requires an EBS to provide survival air for 60 seconds to a depth of two meters. General Aviation

  • Bell Moves Commercial Business into New Center
    by Kerry Lynch on December 1, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    Formerly the American Airlines building, Bell's Commercial Business Center will house about 600 employees.December 1, 2020, 11:25 AMBell has opened a new center in the Dallas/Fort Worth region that will support its commercial business globally. Based at the former American Airlines building about seven miles from both Bell’s headquarters and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the Commercial Business Center (CBC) will house about 600 employees covering all commercial programs, global sales, and customer support and services. In addition, supporting business functions, supply chain, information technology, human resources, and finance personnel will be based at the location. “As we continue to expand our footprint in Fort Worth, it is important we create a space for our employees to innovate and think creatively,” said Michael Thacker, executive v-p of commercial business and technology innovation. “Having a dedicated facility for commercial business will allow enhanced collaboration throughout the entire enterprise and support Bell’s vision to continue to advance the future of mobility and vertical flight.” The CBC is part of a series of renovations and expansions that Bell is undertaking in the Fort Worth region. These also include a renovation at the headquarter campus and a previously announced Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC), which could accommodate growth necessary to support the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) programs. Business Aviation

  • Airbus VSR700 Makes ATOLs from Moving Deck
    by Mark Huber on December 1, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    Airbus's optionally piloted vehicle recently made fully autonomous takeoff and landing approaches to and from a moving deck simulator. December 1, 2020, 10:10 AMThe Airbus VSR700 optionally piloted vehicle (OPV) recently made fully autonomous takeoff and landing (ATOL) approaches to and from a DeckMotion moving platform simulator—a pitching, yawing surface, mounted on a trailer to simulate the conditions of a moving ship deck. The small rotorcraft, derived from the Helicopteres Guimbal Cabri G2, used Airbus’s DeckFinder technology to locate and interface with the DeckMotion simulator.  DeckFinder has applications for the offshore fossil fuel and wind energy markets. “DeckFinder transmits the platform’s position in real-time to the OPV’s automatic pilot with a very high level of accuracy, which cannot be achieved with classical positioning equipment like a GPS. This accuracy is crucial to achieve the final phase of the approach and the landing on a moving reference like a ship deck to enable the landing,” said VSR700 program director Nicolas Delmas. [inline-image=”210070”] DeckFinder’s positioning sensor supports naval operations with positioning accuracy of just more than 20 cm. The system has an update rate of 33 Hz and a scalable operation area up to 300 meters. DeckFinder’s three segments work in triangulation. The ground segment includes the components installed on the landing spot, an airborne segment corresponds to components on the aerial vehicle itself, and a monitoring and software control segment updates the vehicle’s position on a flight display or the data interface. The system works with multilateral, independent RF-based ranging signals. Distance measurements are done in a license-free RF band that is independent from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). DeckFinder determines the range between the ground station antennae and the airborne segment antennae with a high accuracy in a local area. The system overcomes GNSS performance and resultant autopilot limitations in GPS-shaded environments, mainly near offshore platforms and in urban and mountain areas, as well as supporting landings thunderstorms, blizzards, or dense fog. Defense

  • Thales, StandardAero Fly AStar With 4-Axis Autopilot
    by Mark Huber on November 30, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    Thales/ StandardAero anticipate FAA STC approval of four-axis AStar autopilot by mid-2021. November 30, 2020, 2:15 PMThales and StandardAero have developed a compact four-axis autopilot for the Airbus AS350/H125 AStar family of turbine single helicopters and conducted a successful first test flight. The companies anticipate FAA STC approval by mid-2021. Flight testing will continue throughout the next several months at StandardAero’s Langley, British Columbia, Canada facility.  Earlier this year, StandardAero/Thales announced that Airbus helicopter operator WeatherTech, the automotive accessories company, is the launch customer.  The autopilot is an intuitive automatic flight control system that provides stability augmentation, attitude retention and flight director modes such as altitude or heading hold.  “We aim to bring a user-friendly solution offering an unparalleled level of safety and reliability to the light helicopter market,” said Jean-Paul Ebanga, Thales vice president of flight avionics activities. “This product combines Thales’ Autopilot experience, based on billions of flight hours accumulated and outstanding customer satisfaction, with StandardAero’s extensive aftermarket capabilities in aircraft modification and certification.” “This state-of-the-art, four-axis autopilot system has been designed as a straightforward retrofit and provides pilots with simplified operation that will help reduce wear and tear on the helicopter while making flying in normal and adverse conditions much easier and safer for the crew and passengers,” said Elvis Moniz, StandardAero vice president of product development for helicopters.  General Aviation

  • Air Methods Settles Suit Over Crumbling Pitot Tubes
    by Mark Huber on November 30, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    Air ambulance provider Air Methods will pay $825,000 to settle Justice Department suit alleging it flew a helicopter with crumbling pitot tubes. November 30, 2020, 12:28 PMAir Methods, the largest air ambulance provider in the U.S., has agreed to pay $825,000 to settle a civil case filed last year by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging that the company violated FAA regulations by operating a helicopter with severely corroded pitot tubes. As part of the settlement, Air Methods did not admit to any liability. The suit stems from a 2014 FAA inspection of an Air Methods helicopter based in Tampa, Florida. According to the DOJ, Air Methods continued to fly the helicopter for several days after the inspection even though “the helicopter’s pitot tubes were severely corroded and crumbling to the touch,” and that both the helicopter OEM and Air Methods employees agreed that the condition of the tubes was outside the scope of acceptable condition. “Internally, Air Methods’ employees agreed that severely corroded pitot tubes ‘are way beyond acceptable’ and ‘indicative that our crews are not paying attention,’”  the DOJ said. “When an FAA safety inspector informs an air-ambulance company about a potential safety issue, the company needs to address it immediately,” said U.S. attorney Jason Dunn.  “The consequences of not working cooperatively with the FAA to minimize safety risks can be disastrous for the crew and for those being transported while seriously ill or injured. This settlement reflects how seriously we take any regulatory violations that could create such unnecessary risks.” General Aviation

  • Five-bladed Airbus H145 Gets FAA TC
    by Mark Huber on November 30, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    Airbus’s new five-bladed H145 helicopter has received FAA type certification (TC) with the first U.S. delivery slated to occur early next year.November 30, 2020, 12:11 PMAirbus’s new five-bladed H145 helicopter has received FAA type certification (TC) with the first U.S. delivery slated to occur early next year. The TC covers single-pilot instrument flight rules (IFR) and single-engine operations (Cat.A/VTOL), and night vision goggle capability. EASA certified the helicopter in June, and launch customer Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation received the first production model in September. “The FAA certification is an important milestone for the H145 program, as our customers in North America are eagerly awaiting its arrival and our entire team looks forward to delivering and supporting this new variant,” said Romain Trapp, president of Airbus Helicopters, Inc. and head of the North America region. Airbus has begun updates to the current U.S. H145 final assembly line modification and technician training in Columbus, Mississippi in preparation for receipt of the first kits of the new version later this year. The new H145 variant adds a five-bladed, bearingless main rotor system, increasing useful load by 330 pounds, simplifying maintenance, and delivering a smoother ride. The helicopter’s twin Safran Arriel 2E engines are now equipped with full authority digital engine control and the Helionix digital avionics suite has been augmented with a four-axis autopilot.  General Aviation

  • Brazil's Federal Police Orders Six Leonardo AW119Kxs
    by Mark Huber on November 30, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Brazil’s Polícia Rodoviária Federal (PRF) has ordered six AW119Kx turbine single-engine helicopters. November 30, 2020, 11:41 AMBrazil’s Polícia Rodoviária Federal (PRF) has ordered six AW119Kx turbine single-engine helicopters. Deliveries will begin early next year. The AW119Kxs will be operated by the Air Operations Division (DOA) from its regional bases to perform a range of missions including transport, rescue, emergency medical service, firefighting, surveillance, and law enforcement. Each helicopter will be equipped with the Garmin G1000NXi avionics suite, an infrared-capable electro-optics system, rescue hoist, cargo hook, Bambi Bucket, rappelling kit, and advanced communication systems. Law enforcement, rescue, and public service customers across Brazil already operate Leonardo AW119, AW109, and AW139 models. More than 350 AW119 helicopters have been ordered by over 130 customers in 40 countries including Brazil, the U.S., Chile, Mexico, Ecuador, Portugal, Finland, and Latvia, and they fly for law enforcement, public service agencies, and armed forces around the world. More than 190 Leonardo helicopters are currently operated in Brazil. To further support this fleet, earlier this year Leonardo broke ground for construction of a new regional service center in Itapvi, just outside São Paulo, where the company currently operates a service center.  General Aviation

  • Germany Orders NH90 Sea Tiger Helicopters
    by David Donald on November 26, 2020 at 9:50 am

    The shipborne Sea Tiger helicopter will defend the German navy’s frigates against both submarine and surface attack.November 26, 2020, 4:44 AMFollowing Germany’s parliamentary approval of €2.7 billion ($3.2 billion) funding to purchase 31 NH Industries NH90 helicopters for the Deutsche Marine (German navy), an order was placed with the industrial consortium on November 26 by the NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA), the contracting agency acting on behalf of the German armed forces. These aircraft will be of the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) variant, and will be known as the Sea Tiger in German service. The Sea Tiger was announced as the chosen helicopter to replace the navy’s 22 aging Westland Sea Lynx Mk 88As in August 2019, following evaluation against the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat and Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk. The Sea Tigers are expected to be delivered from 2024/25 for assignment to the Marinefliegergeschwader (naval air wing) 5 based at Nordholz, near Cuxhaven on Germany’s North Sea coast, with at least one earmarked for trials duties at the principal German trials establishment at Manching in southern Germany. In service, the primary tasking for the Sea Tiger will be to deploy aboard the Deutsche Marine’s Sachsen- and Baden Württemburg-class frigates, and the new MKS 180 frigates expected to commission from 2027, to provide a multi-role helicopter capability, including anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, cover for boarding parties and maritime policing activities, and vertical replenishment. Equipped with search radar, active dipping sonar and the Leonardo LEOSS-T electro-optical/laser designation system, the Sea Tigers will be armed with the lightweight MU90 torpedo, guided missiles, and guns. Acquisition of the Sea Tiger follows a June 2015 order for the Naval Transport Helicopter (NTH) version of the NH90 to replace MFG 5’s other helicopter type, the Westland Sea King Mk 41A. Eighteen NTHs—known as the Sea Lion in German service—are being delivered to serve in a variety of transport and search and rescue roles, including transport for special forces. While mostly based ashore, the Sea Lions will also operate from the three Berlin-class combat support vessels. The first was handed over to the Deutsche Marine in October last year, but following documentation issues it was not officially cleared for service until June 25 this year. Deliveries are due to be completed by the end of 2022. Airbus Helicopters is the majority shareholder in NH Helicopters. The company was established in 1992 to be the prime contractor to NAHEMA through a partnership with Italy's Agusta (now Leonardo) and Stork Fokker Aerospace (now Fokker Aerostructures) of the Netherlands.  Defense

  • HAI Commits To In-person Heli-Expo 2021
    by Mark Huber on November 24, 2020 at 8:06 pm

    The Helicopter Association International said it will hold its annual Heli-Expo trade show next March in New Orleans. November 27, 2020, 12:00 PMThe Helicopter Association International (HAI) reaffirmed its commitment to holding its in-person, annual Heli-Expo trade show in 2021. The show is slated to be held March 22 to 25 in New Orleans. Alluding to the recent positive announcements concerning several Covid-19 vaccine trials in the last few weeks, HAI president James Viola said, “If you're following the news, there are developments on the horizon that promise a return to normalcy and to doing business as we once did. I'm looking forward to seeing you and the rest of our industry—safely—in New Orleans.”  Viola noted that more than 350 companies to date have committed to exhibiting at the show and that numerous safety protocols will be in place. These include the following measures: creating a socially distanced show floor, meetings room, registration areas, and public areas; building extra time into the event schedule for thorough, repetitive cleaning; setting up additional mobile badge-printing stations to limit touchpoints; providing hand-sanitizer stations throughout common areas and the show floor; limiting show floor attendance to industry professionals; giving Covid-19 safety kits with masks and hand sanitizers to all attendees; mandating masks in the convention center; and conducting temperature checks at convention center entrances. General Aviation

  • Airbus Marks Firsts with H145 Sale to ExxonMobil
    by Jerry Siebenmark on November 24, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    ExxonMobil acquires two copies of the Airbus H145 for a liquefied natural gas project in the Asia-Pacific region.November 24, 2020, 11:20 AMAirbus Helicopters's sale of two H145s to ExxonMobil marks the first by the former to the latter and the first order in the oil and gas sector for the new H145 in the Asia-Pacific region. The intermediate twins, which are equipped with the new five-blade, bearingless main rotor, will support the oil and gas company’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Based at the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant in Hela Province of the PNG Highlands, the H145s will transport workers and equipment in support of the LNG project. Airbus Helicopters said the new H145’s hot-and-high performance led to its selection by ExxonMobil because the aircraft will be operating at an altitude of 5,400 feet in temperatures of 95 degrees F (35 degrees C). “It’s an honor to win the confidence of a safety and performance-focused customer like ExxonMobil for operations in PNG’s highly demanding operational environment,” said Airbus Helicopters executive v-p of global business Ben Bridge. “The new H145 has made a strong start in the market and it’s clear that it has a great future across multiple market segments.” Business Aviation

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