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  • Bell Sets Sights on 2023 Certification for 525 Helo
    by Kerry Lynch on February 2, 2023 at 3:24 pm

    Bell CEO Mitch Snyder notes that final type approval is in the FAA hands but the company's intent is to complete certification this year.February 2, 2023, 10:13 AMBell is in the final throes of the certification program for the 525 Relentless and anticipates certification of the super-medium, twin-engine helicopter by year-end, company executives said during a recent media day in Fort Worth, Texas. “We're making great progress towards certification. Our intent is to certify this year,” said Bell president and CEO Mitch Snyder. But he also caveated that ultimately this will be in the hands of the FAA. Certification work on the 525's fly-by-wire system, an industry first for commercial helicopters, is for the most part complete as is most of Bell’s tasks under its organization delegation authorization, according to 525 program director Derek Mookhoek. “Everything that's in our control…we're doing that, and we're running out of that work,” he said. The remainder involves certification flight tests, FAA review, and final approvals. Bell, meanwhile, is continuing with its effort to have the helicopter certified for icing as type approval is granted, kicking off full-scale testing in Marquette, Michigan, last month. As for the initial results, Mookhoek said, “The systems are working great. Our challenge has been getting the weather to be able to go test.” The helicopter manufacturer is not yet ready to name a launch customer, but Mookhoek said, “There are quite a few customers that we're talking to right now…and they're great conversations.” Business Aviation

  • Helicopter Pilot Arrested for Drunk Driving on Way to Work
    by Mark Huber on February 2, 2023 at 2:03 pm

    A helicopter air ambulance pilot on his way to work was arrested for drunk driving after passing a sheriff's deputy's car.February 2, 2023, 9:00 AMA helicopter air ambulance pilot was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence while on his way to work, according to CBS News Colorado. The Elbert County (Colorado) Sheriff's Office said Aaron Fouquette had a blood alcohol level of 0.126 after he was pulled over for speeding and crossing the yellow center line after passing a sheriff's deputy's car on the evening of January 7. Colorado’s legal alcohol level limit is 0.08. Fouquette, who was wearing his flight suit, told the deputy he was on his way to work at the AirLife Denver base in Hugo. Pilots for the base are provided by Air Methods. Fouquette, who had last flown for the program on January 6, resigned from the company following his arrest. He was released on bond after being charged with suspected DUI and speeding and is due back in court next week. In statements to the media regarding the case, Air Methods stressed that it routinely screens employees for drugs and alcohol at a higher rate than federal law requires and has a variety of other safeguards that would have been employed had Fouquette made it to the base. Business Aviation

  • Volatus To Build Vertiport Near Penn State University
    by Mark Huber on February 1, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    Volatus plans to build an eVTOL vertiport at the Bellefonte Airport near Penn State University later this year.February 1, 2023, 11:46 AMVolatus Infrastructure has agreed to build a public-use, FAA-compliant electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vertiport at the privately owned, public-use Bellefonte (Pennsylvania) Airport (KN96) that serves the State College area, including the Penn State University campus. The vertiport—which eventually could have up to eight landing pads, each with a charging station—is expected to be operational later this year.  It will initially operate as a single landing pad with one accompanying charging station.  “A project that started out as a way to get fans to Penn State games without sitting in traffic on Interstate 80 and State Route 322 has turned into what will become the center of an eVTOL ecosystem for the East Coast,” said Grant Fisk, Volatus Infrastructure co-founder. “We realized that Bellefonte Airport is within 90 miles of all the major cities, so it just makes sense to expand this location, which will lay the foundation for the eVTOL infrastructure ecosystem for the East Coast.” The airport is owned and operated by Marina Elnitski and sits on land that was one of the first U.S. airmail stops nearly a century ago. According to Volatus, its modular design vertiports are scalable. The Neenah, Wisconsin-based company offers three main eVTOL infrastructure designs, including a vehicle-agnostic charging station, in addition to a dedicated app and maintenance programs. Business Aviation

  • FAA Approves New Hartzell Starters for Robinsons
    by Mark Huber on January 30, 2023 at 10:05 pm

    Hartzell Engine Tec has received FAA PMA for its Sky Tec HT starters for Robinson R22 and R44 helicopters.January 30, 2023, 5:02 PMHartzell Engine Tech recently received FAA parts manufacturer approval (PMA) for its Sky-Tec HT (high tech) starters for Robinson piston-engine R22 and R44 helicopters. The starters work with the helicopters’ Lycoming engines and feature an integrated self-resetting kickback protection system (KPS) that safeguards the powerplant from engine kickback. According to Hartzell, the PMA was obtained via the company’s organization designation authorization (ODA) program. Robinson operators can check the Hartzell Engine Tech website to determine whether their model is covered under the PMA and find distributors.  The new starters are in “full production and available today,” said Keith Bagley, Hartzell Engine Tech president. “They replace our older starters installed by Robinson Helicopter at the factory” and starters manufactured by competitors. Robinson has produced more than 10,000 R22 and R44-series helicopters since 1979. Hartzell Engine Tech offers engine accessories and heating products through its family of brands, including Janitrol Aero, Fuelcraft, Plane-Power, Sky-Tec, and AeroForce Turbocharger System. Business Aviation

  • King Stallion Helicopter Demonstrates Lifting Power
    by David Donald on January 27, 2023 at 10:47 am

    Repositioning and retrieving aircraft is one of the tasks that the CH-53K military helicopter will perform in its operational life.January 27, 2023, 5:41 AMLate last year the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion helicopter demonstrated a key capability by lifting a Lockheed Martin F-35C fighter jet, the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command has announced. This was an important test in the type’s external load certification campaign. The lift was conducted on December 13 at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, by a CH-53K from Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) One. The fighter in question was aircraft “CF-1”: the first developmental example of the F-35C. The test involved VMX-1, the F-35 Integrated Test Force, the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’s Cargo Lab, and other organizations such as the helicopter support team from the Marine Corps’ Combat Logistics Battalion 24. As well as basic load certification testing, the lift enabled sling configuration analysis and cargo characteristics documentation. The flight trial was preceded by ground lift tests performed using a crane to verify the various attitudes of the F-35 while under the sling. Having accrued 750 flight hours during 450 test flights between 2010 and 2016, the F-35C is no longer flyable. For the lift test the engine, outer wings and mission systems were removed, reducing its weight to 22,000 pounds. This was well within the CH-53K’s current external load limit of 27,000 pounds. The design goal for the type is 36,000lb in hot-and-high conditions, nearly three times that of the CH-53E that the “King” is to replace. “This type of mission is precisely what the K was designed and built to do,” said Colonel Kate Fleeger, program manager for the Heavy Lift Helicopter Program Office (PMA-261) that oversees the H-53 family in Navy/Marine Corps service. “It continues to prove its value in support of Marine Corps operations, transporting equipment that no other rotary wing platform can lift.” With increased power and fly-by-wire controls, the CH-53K represents a major improvement in capability over the CH-53E. Its primary role is to support Marine Corps assaults, lifting heavy equipment into and around the operational area. Its lifting power can also be called upon to recover downed aircraft. In September 2021 the CH-53K performed its first operational mission when it lifted a 15,000-pound Navy MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter from a 12,000-ft mountain in California. In December the “King” entered full-rate production, having reached initial operating capability in April. Fleet deployment is scheduled for later this year or in early 2024, and full operating capability is slated for 2029. Marine Corps requirements are for 200 King Stallions. Defense

  • Police Kill Man Lasing, Shooting at Helicopter
    by Mark Huber on January 26, 2023 at 6:20 pm

    A 33-year-old Detroit man who opened fire on state police helicopter was fatally shot by officers on the ground. January 26, 2023, 1:16 PMTuesday night Michigan State Police (MSP) shot and killed a man who first lased, and then later shot at, the department’s Trooper 2 helicopter in northwest Detroit. Video from the Bell 206L-3 showed the man pointing a green laser at the helicopter from a second-story rear window at the home near the city’s notorious I-96 drug corridor. Moments later he entered the backyard with a high-power rifle and opened fire several times in the direction of the helicopter. The shots appeared to miss.  On audio from the helicopter, a trooper can be heard on the radio saying, “He might be armed, he almost looks like he's holding a long gun pointed at us right now…yeah, he’s shooting at us right now.” Trooper 2’s crew requested ground units to respond to the scene. When they did, the shooter opened fire on them. Officers on the ground returned fire, killing the 33-year-old suspect.   The incident occurred just after 7:30 p.m. local time and remains under investigation. The MSP has been increasingly involved in fighting the city’s illegal drug trade on the ground and in the air. It operates a fleet of four helicopters. In 2021, two Flint men were arrested after allegedly shooting at another MSP helicopter. Business Aviation

  • Bell's Civil Helicopter Deliveries Surge in 2022
    by Mark Huber on January 26, 2023 at 3:18 pm

    Despite a decline in deliveries of Bell military helicopters last year, the company delivered 176 civil helicopters in 2022, up from 156 the prior year.January 26, 2023, 10:16 AMBell Textron’s military helicopter deliveries declined as key programs wound down in 2022, but civil deliveries surged, largely on the popularity of the Bell 505 light single. Overall revenues dropped 4.9 percent from 2021, to $3.1 billion, while the segment reported a profit of $282 million. Bell said it expects modest growth in 2023 revenues to about $3.3 billion with comparable profitability. Bell finished 2022 with a backlog of $4.8 billion.  Last year, Bell delivered 31 military aircraft, down from 48 in 2021. The mix included 15 H-1s, 13 V-22s, and three Huey IIs. On the civil side, Bell delivered 176 helicopters, up from 156 in 2021. The totals included 83 Model 505s and 49 Model 407 singles, as well as 32 light-twin 429s. Deliveries of 505s posted the largest gain, increasing from 63 in 2021. For the period, deliveries of Bell 412s more than doubled, from seven to 15.  On a conference call with analysts yesterday, Textron CEO Scott Donnelly said Bell will realize revenues of $1.3 billion over 19 months from the initial flyer contract related to the company’s recent V-280 tiltrotor win of the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft contract, but that $232 million of that funding is currently being delayed while the contract award is being contested by challenger Lockheed Martin. Bell expects to prevail in that appeal and could receive funding as early as April. Donnelly said the first flight of Bell’s Invictus 360 prototype—a semi-finalist for the Army’s Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft program—should occur later this year, pending delivery of the GE ITEP engine from the Army. Business Aviation

  • Leonardo AW09 Switches To Safran Power
    by Mark Huber on January 26, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    Leonardo will fly its latest AW09 single turbine engine prototype with Safran's Arriel 2K engine.January 26, 2023, 8:34 AMLeonardo Helicopters announced this morning that it will fly its latest AW09 single-turbine-engine prototype, PS4, with Safran power. The helicopter will fly shortly with the 1,000-shp-class Safran Helicopter Engines Arriel 2K to guarantee “the most efficient level of industrialization, global supply, and supportability for customers,” according to the Italian airframer. Up until now, AW09 (née Kopter SH09) prototypes have flown with the Honeywell HTS900 engine. According to Leonardo, the change “will provide innovative, simplified, and competitive maintenance solutions and cost of operations, sustained by tailored service plans and support-by-the-hour contracts as well as a large range of digital services.” Safran has produced 15,000 Arriel series engines that power a variety of helicopters, including the Airbus Helicopters AStar family, Leonardo AW109, and several Sikorsky S-76 models.  “Since the integration of Kopter into our organization and the introduction of the AW09 into our product range, we have firmly maintained our commitment to deliver to the market exactly what it expects from a single engine of the latest standards backed by an efficient and responsive global support network,” said Leonardo Helicopters managing director Gian Piero Cutillo. “The decision to select this propulsion system is consistent with this strategy and we look forward to working with our partner to bring the most modern single engine on the commercial market.”  Following Leonardo's acquisition of Kopter Group for $185 million in 2020, the company acquired the single-turbine SH09 helicopter program, bringing substantial engineering, production, and marketing resources to the project. In 2021, it revamped the prototype’s design with an elongated mast, updated flight controls, Garmin G3000H avionics, revised upper cowlings for improved aerodynamics, and new main rotor hub and blades. The Arriel 2K engine is installed in PS4, which will begin flight tests at Kopter’s Mollis, Switzerland facility soon. PS4 includes all developments implemented and tested on the previous AW09 prototype—P3. PS5, the next and final prototype, will fly later this year. Program progress in 2022 includes integration of the engine, flying the latest and final design main rotor blades, and agreeing on the type certification basis with EASA.  The Mollis facility will continue with the development and test of the AW09 while also serving as a technology incubator for aircraft hybridization and electrification under Leonardo’s “Be Tomorrow 2030” strategic plan.  Business Aviation

  • Airbus Helicopters Continues Market Leadership in 2022
    by Mark Huber on January 25, 2023 at 2:12 pm

    Airbus Helicopters reported that it received 374 orders and made 344 deliveries last year.January 25, 2023, 9:09 AMAirbus Helicopters said it maintained its 52 percent share of the civil and parapublic helicopter market in 2022 with 374 orders and 344 deliveries. Customer fleet hours, meanwhile, returned to pre-pandemic 2019 levels. Demand for the company’s turbine singles and light twins again led the way, collectively accounting for 342 orders, while demand for Airbus’s super-medium and intermediate helicopters, the H175 and H160, remained weak, with just eight and 12 orders, respectively. The company will not post 2022 financial results until February 16, when all of Airbus will report.  “Our orders came from 203 customers in 48 countries, underlining the importance of our global network, as well as showing that in uncertain times, the role of helicopters is more essential than ever,” said Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even. He said 2022 “was a year in which Airbus Helicopters solidified its recovery, in a context of instability with the war in Ukraine and a fragile supply chain.” Highlights for the year included the deliveries of the first H160s in Brazil, Japan, and for the French Navy; an order for 27 H125 singles from Brazil’s armed forces; a major upgrade for the fleet of Tigers in the French and Spanish armies; initial deliveries of H135s to the Spanish Ministry of Interior; large service contracts for French and German NH90s, the U.S. Army’s fleet of nearly 500 UH-72A and UH-72B helicopters, and the Helicopter Company’s (Saudi Arabia) fleet of 20 H145s and six ACH160s; and continued progress on unmanned systems including the VSR700. Airbus also continues to pursue a contract for a large order of H175Ms as part of the UK’s New Medium Helicopter program. In June, Airbus was named coordinator of the EU Next Generation Rotorcraft Technologies Project (ENGRT), a European Defense Fund initiative that is a precursor for the next generation of European military rotorcraft. Even said Airbus is pursuing a three-pronged campaign for decarbonization that includes SAF, hybridization, and electrification. ”The unveiling of our DisruptiveLab demonstrator at the Airbus Summit is another significant step to decarbonizing vertical lift. The aircraft that took flight on January 13 will demonstrate our capability to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 percent. Our commitment to sustainability also saw us forge more partnerships that will support the optimal entry into service of the CityAirbus NextGen, our eVTOL prototype.” Business Aviation

  • CBAA Joins Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Task Group
    by Chad Trautvetter on January 23, 2023 at 5:42 pm

    The Canadian Business Aviation Association's participation in an industry-government advanced air mobility task group will help shape priorities for AAM.January 23, 2023, 12:30 PMThe Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) has joined the Canadian Drone Advisory Committee (CanaDAC) Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Task Group #2, the association said late last week. CBAA intends to help shape the direction and priorities of AAM development in Canada through the task group, which is a joint initiative between the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium and Transport Canada. According to CBAA, the task group’s initial objective is to compile an inventory of anticipated AAM use cases, focusing on those closest to commercialization and excluding those that are already operational or where regulatory action is presently underway. The latter include remote pilot air systems in visual line of sight (VLOS) and beyond VLOS operations in remote areas. “The end deliverable is expected to provide sufficient detail indicating what exactly each would entail, feasibility, and provide realistic timeframes based on the technology readiness,” CBAA said. The association added that it will provide future business aviation-use case perspectives such as expected business markets, barriers for entry, and required regulatory framework adjustments. Business Aviation

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