Nations Marshal Rotorcraft to Aid Tsunami Victims
Helicopters from around the world rallied to the aid of the millions injured and displaced by tidal waves triggered by the Dec. 26, 2004 undersea earthquake off the northwestern coast of Sumatra. The waves killed more than 150,000 around the Indian Ocean.
The impromptu aerial relief operations proved the critical value that helicopters can play after disasters, particularly those that decimate communications and ground and air transportation infrastructure, according to top rotorcraft industry and relief officials and observers. Industry officials also said this demonstrates the need to formally integrate rotorcraft into disaster and emergency planning.
Without integrating rotorcraft into emergency planning, "we’re not going to be able to get relief supplies and assistance out to the people who most need help," said Rhett Flater, AHS executive director, during a presentation given Jan. 9 at a meeting of the Transportation Research Board of the U.S. National Academies in Washington, D.C. on the helicopter’s role in tsunami relief. The tsunamis spread thousands of miles from the quake’s epicenter nearly 19 mi. beneath the Indian ocean at a point about 195 mi. west of the coast of Medan, Sumatra. Large swaths of Banda Aceh province on Sumatra’s northern end were wiped out. More than 106,000 are estimated to have been killed there. Thousands of miles to the west across the Indian Ocean more than 300 people are thought to have been killed in Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya.
In total, the waves are believed to have killed nearly 160,000 people in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the African nations–although at press time the death toll was still rising.
The first helicopters on the scene were commercial and civil aircraft in the region, which were shortly joined by military units from around the region and, later, around the world.
The U.S. Navy’s USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group, on a port call in Hong Kong, set sail for Indonesia on Dec. 27, before formal orders to assist in disaster relief were received. The strike group’s Carrier Air Wing 2 includes the aircraft of embarked Helicopter Anti-Submarine Sqdn. 2 (HS-2) flying SH-60F Seahawks and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light Sqdn. 47 (HSL-47). In addition, several other ships carry helicopter units, including Helicopter Combat Support Sqdn. 11 (HC-11), flying MH-60S Knighthawks.
The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) arrived Jan. 4 from a port visit to Naval Station Guam to join in what the United States had dubbed Operation Unified Assistance and in short order was moving more than 175,000 lb. of fresh water, food and medical supplies daily on and off its deck. On board is an embarked U.S. Marine Corps air combat element assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and Expeditionary Strike Group Five (ESG-5) and Helicopter Combat Support Sqdn. 11 (HC-11), Det. 4, flying CH-46 Sea Knights.
At press time, the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), with the MH-53E Sea Dragon Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Sqdn. 15 (HM-15), was departing the Persian Gulf for the region.
Relief teams were planning to be in the region for an extended period. "I don’t see an end to this for a long, long time," the Associated Press quoted Capt. Larry Burt, who commands the Lincoln’s carrier air wing, as saying. "The biggest shortage is still airlift to the coast."
Those aviators were joined by the Australian infantry landing ship HMAS Kanimbla, whose contingent includes two Royal Australian Navy Sea Kings. Australia also sent seven UH-1H Iroquois from its Army Aviation Training Center. In addition, the Indian air force committed Mil Mi-8 and Mi-17s to relief operations, and Singapore’s air force sent six CH-47s and two Super Pumas.
The Swiss air force sent three Super Pumas for relief missions in Indonesia on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Firehawk Flies 24 Rescues in About 11 Rain-Soaked Hours
The crew of a single Los Angeles County Fire Dept. Firehawk saved 34 victims in 24 separate rescues in one 10.8-hr. stretch of flying Jan. 10 as Southern Californians struggled to survive torrential rains that plagued the region for weeks. Elsewhere, the downpours led to a landslide Jan. 10 that wiped out about 20 homes in La Conchita, Calif. and claimed 10 victims, some of whom were buried under a 25-ft.-deep river of mud .
The crew of the heavily modified Sikorsky S-70A estimated that 14 of the 34 victims might have been rescued by ground crews, but that the remainder were beyond the reach of teams below and would have been lost had the aircraft not been available.
N.Y. Police Ground Explorers, Seeks Emergency Replacements
Suffolk County, N.Y, grounded its police department’s two MD902 medevac helicopters in December 2004 in a dispute with MD Helicopters over the need to replace rotor hubs that the department said are cracked.
The move came as a department’s third aircraft, a Eurocopter AS350B2 based at Long Island MacArthur Airport, was down for scheduled maintenance. As a result, the department had to suspend operations of its East End air rescue unit at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, N.Y. The Suffolk County police bought the $5-million MD902s three years ago.
New York State Police sent a helicopter and pilot to operate out of Long Island MacArthur Airport for two weeks to assist during the grounding.
According to county officials, the department discovered in late 2004 that the rotor hubs on both MD902s were cracked and needed to be grounded. Department mechanics immediately ordered replacement parts, county officials said, but MD Helicopter’s financial problems led to repeated delays in delivery of the parts.
Some parts were delivered Jan. 10, but by that time the county was looking for new aircraft. The next day, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy signed off on an expedited procurement process to purchase a new medevac helicopter and get it flying for the county as soon as possible. The county allocated $3.1 million for the new aircraft. While it would normally take up to eight months to receive a new helicopter, according to the county, the declaration of a state of emergency by Levy would cut that time in half. Bids for a new aircraft were made by American Eurocopter and Agusta Aerospace Corp.
The county is considering suing MD Helicopters over the matter.
AB139 Wins FAA Ticket, Finally
After a protracted re-design, testing and paperwork process, Bell/Agusta Aerospace Co. on Dec. 20 received an FAA type certificate for its new AB139 medium twin-engine helicopter.
The aircraft was certificated by Italy’s ENAC airworthiness authority in June 2003, but that was for a configuration with three main displays for its Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite. U.S. officials insisted each pilot have two main displays, instead of having their own primary flight display and sharing the third multi-function unit. That required a rework of the cockpit and additional testing to satisfy the FAA. Italy’s ENAC and the European Aviation Safety Agency approved the four-display configuration in November 2004.
The new certifications cover full day and night IFR operation using a four-screen Primus Epic electronic flight instrumentation system. AB139s currently are built solely at Agusta’s plant in Vergiate, Italy. Later this year an assembly line is to be opened at Bell Helicopter Textron’s production facility in Amarillo, Texas. The first U.S.-built AB139 is scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2006. Bell/Agusta said that it has more than 80 orders for the AB139 from 40 customers worldwide.
First Middle East Helicopter Show: Small But Ambitious
The first Middle East air show focused entirely upon the helicopter industry was held Dec. 6-9, 2004 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
With some 80 exhibitors and 2,500 attendees from 20 countries, the Dubai HeliShow International Helicopter Technology and Operations Exhibition was small compared to the biennial Dubai Air Show held in odd number years. However, the purpose of the show was to invite only people specifically involved in the helicopter industry, according to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Dubai’s minister of civil aviation.
While attendance at the first helicopter show was somewhat small, he noted that "the first show is always small," including the first Dubai Air Show, held in 1987 in an Emirates Airlines maintenance hangar.
The sheikh said the show’s organizers are confident the show will grow, in part because of building programs such as The Palms and The World, two massive projects to create islands just off shore in the Persian Gulf for very high-end homes for the rich and famous.
"The World, for example, will not be connected to land," he said. "It can only be reached by aircraft or boat." This should create a demand for more personal or corporate helicopters and attract more helicopter companies to Dubai or the other emirates. He added that more tourists are expected to start using helicopters, with a new company already starting up in Dubai. "They are telling me that there are some tourists who want to use their services out of Burj al Arab (a seven-star hotel in Dubai) because there is a helipad there where they could pick up people and fly them around the city."
Dubai has now become the economic hub of the Middle East, the equivalent of New York, London and Hong Kong as a financial center. Unfortunately, as with those cities, its ground transportation infrastructure is not keeping up with the population growth, which is increasing demand for corporate helicopters to transport executives and VIPs throughout the rapidly growing city.
Dubai is also becoming a prime location for the film industry, with helicopter charter companies such as AeroGulf providing helicopters for both commercials and feature films, he said.
Although helicopter operations in the Middle East traditionally have been military-oriented, the Dubai HeliShow was roughly 60 percent civil and 40 percent military, a reflection of the rapidly growing civil market.
Mohamed Al Mohannadi, general manager for Doha, Qatar-based Gulf Helicopters, said that company, which started in 1970 with two helicopters, has now grown to 24. He said the company expects to continue growing at 10 percent, with the addition of two to three new helicopters, each year. This is expected to eventually double the company’s fleet to 40-50 aircraft, he said. The fleet now consists of 24 Bell aircraft–six 212s, 15 412s, two 206s and one 230. Gulf Helicopter leases helicopters under dry or wet-lease contracts, primarily for the oil and gas industry.
A key to Gulf Helicopter’s growth is expansion not only throughout the Middle East, but into Europe and the Asian sub-continent, Mohamed said. Initially operating only in its home base in Qatar, Gulf Helicopter now has operations in India, North Africa and Spain. The Spanish contracts are dry leases for firefighting.
Gulf Helicopter made the only big announcement at the show, an agreement with CAE-Emirates Training for training in that company’s new 212/412 simulator.
Abu Dhabi Aviation also provides helicopters under lease for the oil and gas industry, operating a fleet of 37 Bell 412s, 212s and 206s. Peter Harris, chief engineer for Abu Dhabi, said that company also has contracts throughout the Gulf region and Europe, "the same as Gulf Helicopters, but with a larger fleet." He said Abu Dhabi is also growing at about 10 percent a year, a trend that is helped by an increasing number of ad hoc corporate and VIP charters as well as charters for heavy-lift operations.
The Dubai HeliShow lasted four days, which was about a day too long, according to most exhibitors. As a result, the next Dubai HeliShow has been scheduled for three days, Dec. 5-7, 2006. The show for 2008 has already been scheduled, and future shows will be held in alternating years with the Dubai Air Show.
Ex-Eastern Bloc Firms Market Aircraft, Services
One of the surprise draws of the Dubai HeliShow was the presence of exhibitors from Russia and former Soviet Union and Soviet-bloc states.
Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant was a major exhibitor, along with Kazan Helicopters, manufacturer of the Mil helicopters. Kazan was promoting work on the Mi-38, the Mi-172 with Honeywell glass cockpit and the VIP version of the Pratt & Whitney PW-207-powered Ansat transport. Alexander Emelushin, Kazan’s chief manager, marketing, said that Kazan exhibits at about 20 shows annually to get information on the industry and to meet possible partners. It is also an opportunity "to have a positive influence" on potential customers, he said.
In promoting the Mi-38, Emelushin said that the helicopter is in the same class as the Sikorsky S-92 and AgustaWestland EH101. It is a joint effort, designed by Mil Moscow Helicopter, produced by Kazan, with an avionics suite developed by Eurocopter. It is powered by twin Pratt & Whitney PW-127T/S engines and is designed to replace the Mi-8, Emelushin said. It is still under development, with about three years to go until production.
Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, which also produces helicopters such as the Mil-17 and more advanced Mil-171, exhibited at the show as part of the Mil exhibition booth, but stated that the show was not very productive for them.
The Ural Works of Civil Aviation was at the Dubai show promoting its helicopter maintenance capabilities. The company primarily services turbine engines and gearboxes, with emphasis on the Mil-8, Mil-17, Mil-14, Mil-24, Mil-28, KA-28 and KA-32. Alexander Plotnikov, assistant director of commerce, said that there were a large number of Mil-17s in the Middle East that now need overhauls. While the Ural Works only does the engine work, it can arrange for complete overhauls of such aircraft. He noted that Ural Works uses IL-76s to transport two Mil-17s at a time to the facility in Ekaterinburg, Russia, although the company is considering whether to open a Middle East facility. "But we are not ready yet."
European, U.S. Manufacturers Test Middle East Markets
European and U.S. helicopter makers came to December’s show in part to test the waters of Middle East markets.
Companies ranging from Eurocopter and AgustaWestland to specialists like U.K.-based Jewers Specialist Doors for hangars and Powervamp, which produces ground power units, attended. Commercial Director Gary Owen said Powervamp is tapping the market with two distributors established there and are looking to expand further.
Simon Burrows, sales and marketing director for U.K.-based FBO Patriot Aviation, was at the show "to see if there is a market" in the Middle East. "We’re talking to the key people (about setting up operations) and ready to go if the opportunity arises."
AgustaWestland and Eurocopter showed their civil lines, with Eurocopter stressing the AS350, EC130 and EC155 for the growing private and corporate market.
Bell, Sikorsky and Schweizer exhibited, although Bell piggybacked on Hawker Pacific, its European representative. Schweizer highlighted its 333 and 300C, with the 333 aimed primarily at the sightseeing market, said David Savage, its marketing supervisor. While the aircraft has a low initial cost and is inexpensive to operate, one of the biggest problems in selling smaller helicopters in the Middle East is that many governments there will not give ownership permits, he said. The United Arab Emirates has a more relaxed attitude toward private ownership, and Schweizer is looking at starting a flight-training program in Umm al-Qalwain, one of the UAE’s seven emirates. The program would train civil pilots using the 300C, which would allow training during summer temperatures that can exceed 115 deg. F. Schweizer is looking for financial partners to help start the program.
Dane Pranke, Bell’s Middle East/Africa director, said many new helicopters going into the region are upgrades. Petroleum Helicopters in Egypt and Gulf Helicopter, for instance, are upgrading their fleets. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. now requires helicopters entering the country to be less than two years old, with fewer than 2,000 hr. This is causing Bristow Helicopters to upgrade its aging Bell 212 fleet to 412s for a new five-year contract with Exxon Mobil. Pranke also said there is more interest in corporate helicopters, particularly in Dubai. He said one Middle East EMS operator is considering ordering 412s.
Middle East militaries are also upgrading their fleets. The Royal Saudi Air Force is replacing 205s and 212s with new 412s with glass cockpits, upgraded Pratt & Whitney PT6-9 FADEC-controlled engines, flirs and night-vision goggles. It has already taken 16 412s and may buy more.
Honeywell Flight Tests 13-in. `Hover-and-Stare’ UAV
Honeywell has begun flight testing a 13-in. autonomous unmanned aerial surveillance aircraft designed to allow a foot soldier to carry it on his back. Honeywell is developing the aircraft, the Micro Air Vehicle, for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as part of its Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program.
The gasoline-powered vehicle uses a vertically oriented propeller enclosed in a shroud. This ducted-fan design allows the vehicle to take off and land vertically using air thrust through the shroud. Development calls for a heavy-fuel engine variant of the Micro Air Vehicle to be available next year.
Flight tests are to continue through next month at Honeywell’s facility in Albuquerque, N.M. The flight tests are set up to verify that the aircraft performs as designed and "will provide intelligence on enemy activity without risking the lives of human pilots or ground reconnaissance teams," Vaughn Fulton, Honeywell Unmanned Aerial Systems program manager, said.
In April, Honeywell is to start delivery of prototype systems to the Army for initial experimentation.
The vehicle may become part of the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems program as the hover-and-stare Class I Unmanned Aerial Vehicle system. The vehicle is controlled using Honeywell’s micro-electrical mechanical systems (MEM) electronic sensor technology. Honeywell is the prime contractor, with AAI Corp. the subcontractor for the airframe, AVID LCC the sub for modeling and simulation and Techsburg, Inc. the sub for testing and acoustics.
Australian Safety Agency Proposes Mandatory Flight Time Devices
The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority has proposed mandatory, tamper-resistant devices that will accurately record the flying time for single-engine helicopters. The proposal follows a series of fatal accidents of single-engine helicopters in which inaccurate time-in-service flight hours were identified as a contributing factor to the crash. The safety authority stated that it is not making a formal recommendation regarding the timing devices, but rather is issuing a discussion paper calling for comments from the industry regarding the need for such a device. If adopted as a requirement, it would affect 650 helicopters throughout Australia. Cost to purchase and install is estimated at up to $5000, for a total cost impact to the industry of $3.25 million.
In issuing a discussion paper on the problem of inaccurate reporting of time-in-service, CASA said that there are some helicopter operators who are not accurately recording flying time and that existing time-in-service devices are either not working properly or have been disconnected.
In a First, Army Aviator Takes Command Of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School
For the first time, those training at NAS Patuxent River to be flight test pilots are doing so under the command of a U.S. Army aviator.
Lt. Col. Steven W. Kihara succeeded Navy Cmdr. Paul A. Sohl as commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Jan. 13 in Hangar 110 at Pax River. The school has long provided training in the discipline of flight test and evaluation to experienced pilots, flight officers, and engineers of all stripes. But Kihara is the first Army officer to command the prestigious institution, which according to the Navy "investigates and develops new flight test techniques, publishes manuals for use of the aviation test community for standardization of flight test techniques and project reporting, and conducts special projects."
Commissioned in the regular Army in 1984, he attended both the Army Rotary- and Fixed-wing Aircraft Qualification Courses and has served as an instructor pilot in the OH-58A/C. A Master Army Aviator, Kihara is a Naval Test Pilot School alumnus, having graduated in Class 106 in 1994. He is a certified experimental test pilot and is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He has about 3,500 hr. in more than 60 aircraft.
Medevac Crash Highlights EMS Scrutiny
The Jan. 10 crash of a Life Evac 2 EC135 within eyeshot of the U.S. Capitol came as both the U.S. FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were finalizing recommendations for more stringent safety practices in EMS operations.
The Air Methods Corp. aircraft crashed at about 11 p.m. local time en route to its base at Stafford, Va., Regional Airport after having transported a patient to Washington Hospital Center. Weather was reported to be clear. The aircraft struck the water just south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, a major Potomac River crossing that is the site of major construction with numerous cranes and other structures. The pilot and flight paramedic were killed. The flight nurse survived with injuries. The NTSB is investigating. At the time, it also was discussing the final form of recommendations aimed at addressing the rash of accidents in U.S.-based aeromedical operations in the last three years.
NTSB officials expected to issue their recommendations to the FAA and industry before Heli-Expo 2005 opens in Anaheim, Calif. Feb. 6. The recommendations are expected to include calls for requirements that all EMS flights be conducted under FAR Part 135 from the time the aircraft is launched to the time it returns to base and for greater use of night-vision systems.
Progress in Creating New Rotorcraft Center
Congressman Curt Weldon and industry leaders have agreed to establish the Center for Rotorcraft Innovation near Philadelphia. Industry had resisted the powerful Pennsylvania Republican’s push for the center, fearing it would be an annex of Boeing, which is based near Weldon’s district. But the center will be sited away from Boeing, in Delaware County, Pa. and run in conjunction with Pennsylvania State University, the parties have agreed. The industry/government Rotorcraft Industry Technology Assn. will be renamed the Center for Rotorcraft Innovation and melded with the Weldon project.
MD Helicopters Down, Not Out
MD Helicopters Corp. is still in contention as a viable helicopter manufacturer, with talks continuing with Sikorsky as a possible "white knight" to save the Mesa, Ariz.-based company. Although MD employees were forced to take unpaid vacation during the recent Christmas/New Year season, talks between the two helicopter OEMs continued at the highest levels. Reportedly, new investors have been found which make MD more palatable as an acquisition for Sikorsky. Also making MD more palatable is its strong candidacy for the U.S. Army’s future scout/attack helicopter requirement. Sikorsky’s strong ties to the military with its H-60 and CH/MH-53 programs, along with the technology developed for the now-defunct Comanche program, can only strengthen that candidacy. If the talks prove productive, the two companies are expected to make an announcement during this month’s Heli-Expo show in Anaheim.
Lord Glenarthur Leaves British Helicopter Advisory Board
Lord Simon Glenarthur has relinquished the position of chairman of the British Helicopter Advisory Board after a distinguished career in the British Army, the government, and industry.
The BHAB, founded in 1969, is the voice of the helicopter industry in the United Kingdom. Since he became chairman in 1992, the BHAB has seen many changes, such as the successful introduction of air ambulance and police helicopters and associated legislation, as well as changes in aviation law brought about by JAR OPS 2 in the United Kingdom and Europe.
After learning to fly helicopters in the army, Lord Glenarthur joined British Airways Helicopters in Aberdeen in 1975 at a time when the British oil industry was greatly expanding. He left after seven years flying S-61s and S-76s in the challenging North Sea environment. He was invited to join the government by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and held several junior ministerial posts before becoming a minister in the foreign office responsible for U.K. relations with Southeast Asia and Pacific Rim nations.
Since leaving the government, he has served in various directorships in industry and has consulted for Chevron UK and British Aerospace. He also has served as chairman of the European Helicopter Assn. and deputy chairman of the International Federation of Helicopter Assns.
His successor is Brian Humphries, who recently retired as managing director of Shell Aviation after a successful career with the Royal Air Force. Humphries is currently chief executive of the European Business Aviation Assn. —Joe West
Yoshine Helicopters To Launch Ultralight
Taiwan-based Yoshine Helicopters Inc. will launch a new ultra-light helicopter in mid-2006, according to President/CEO Charles Lin. The new EzyCopter aircraft can be qualifed as either home-built, ultra-light or experimental, meaning it does not need FAA certification, Lin said. The aircraft will come as a kit, with the owner/pilot building more than 50 percent. Initial cost is approximately $30,000, with more than 300 reservations already made for the EzyCopter. "By mid-2006, we want to turn those into full orders," Lin said. As an incentive, the first 100 people to convert a reservation to an order will have $1,800 deducted from the price. However, to be among the first 100, the buyer must already possess "at least a private pilot’s license," he said.
The EzyCopter is a single-seat, co-axial, four-bladed twin-engine helicopter, powered by two 2-cycle Hirth engines. Lin said that the EzyCopter is built for growth and within a couple of years the company will have a dual seat aircraft available. Range of the ultra-light will be "about two to three hours," with an airspeed of 54-65 kt., he said.
Yoshine Helicopters is also looking at an unmanned version of the EzyCopter having a 200 lb. payload "which would give it about four to five hours on station," Lin said. Cost for the UAV version, with equipment, would be under $100,000, and one small Asian country has already contracted for an EzyCopter UAV, he said.
HAI Honors Distinguished Crowd With Awards of Excellence
HAI has named the recipients of its annual Awards of Excellence, to be presented at Heli-Expo 2005 in Anaheim, Calif.
Winners of the Life Time Achievement awards are Jack Real, chairman emeritus of Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Ore., and Wesley G. Lematta, founder and chairman of Columbia Helicopters, Inc. in Portland, Ore.
During his career, Real worked for aviation industry giants such as Lockheed, Hughes and McDonnell Douglas. In 1937, he went to work for Lockheed, where he spent his time designing, developing and testing aircraft such as the B-14 Hudson Bomber, the Constellation, Lockheed models 286 and 475, and the Cheyenne helicopter.
In 1960, he became chief of engineering flight test, and two years later was named chief engineer of research, development, and testing. In 1965, he became vice president and general manager for the AH-56A Cheyenne helicopter project. By 1968, he was responsible for all rotary-wing programs at Lockheed.
He left Lockheed in 1971 to become senior vice president of aviation for Howard Hughes Corp. In 1979, he became president of Hughes Helicopters, where he guided the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter program. In 1984, McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co. bought Hughes Helicopters, and Real remained as president and CEO until his 1987 retirement.
Real was influential in relocating the Hughes Flying Boat, the "Spruce Goose," to the Evergreen Aviation Museum, where he served as president from 1995 until 2001. Today, he is chairman emeritus.
Lematta founded Columbia Helicopters in 1957, working with a single helicopter at the Troutdale, Ore. Airport. For the most part, his first year of operation was much like that of other early helicopter entrepreneurs, spent giving rides at county fairs and doing odd lift jobs.
In September 1958, Wes gained national recognition when he saved the lives of 17 seamen off the Coos Bay, Ore. coast in a courageous and dramatic rescue effort. Lifting the sailors one at a time from the sinking U.S. Army Corps of Engineer dredge Rossel in high winds, he accomplished the largest single-handed helicopter rescue at sea, a historical record that still stands.
Today, approaching 50 years of operations, Columbia Helicopters operates globally from headquarters at Aurora State Airport in Aurora, Ore. His fleet includes 16 Boeing/Kawasaki Vertol 107-II helicopters, seven Boeing 234 Chinooks, two Hughes 500s and two King Air fixed-wing aircraft. Over the course of his career, he developed a number of innovations that helped to transform and expand the helicopter industry. He proved the helicopter useful for logging by developing a process to make it a sustainable operation. He is also responsible for developing the Direct Visual Observational Control method for helicopters in construction work.
During his long association with HAI, Lematta has served on the HAI board of directors. He received the Lawrence D. Bell Memorial Award in 1990, and the HAI Operators Safety Award multiple times.
Elling Halvorson, chairman of Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, Inc. in Grand Canyon, Ariz., is the recipient of the 2004 Bell Memorial Award. Created in 1971, the award honors a recipient’s excellence in management and long and significant service to the helicopter industry.
Halvorson began his business career in 1957 as owner of Elling Halvorson, Inc., a general contracting firm. His first major project was constructing a 2-mi. tramway system on a 10,400-ft. mountain peak in the Sierra Nevada to link a transcontinental microwave system from New York to Los Angeles. At that time, he purchased his first helicopter. Later he pioneered the unconventional use of a helicopter in the construction of a water pipeline across the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Visitor requests for helicopter rides led to him to offer sightseeing helicopter flights, which launched Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters.
An innovative entrepreneur, Halvorson has invested in and founded a multitude of highly successful companies, to include Grand Canyon Airlines and Rainier Heli-Lift, Inc., a logging and heavy lift company operating in North and South America. Halvorson’s fleet consists of 60 helicopters, of which forty operate from his state-of-the art heliport at the Grand Canyon.
HAI’s 2004 Pilot of the Year Award goes to Thomas A. "Bud" Roberts, rotor-wing pilot for Evergreen Helicopters International, Inc. in Galveston, Texas. Roberts has been a pilot with Evergreen since May of 1999. He is an offshore Bell 212 pilot, transporting oil-rig crews to and from platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. During the summer, he flies a 212 on firefighting missions in Alaska. On Aug. 14, 2004, Roberts was called upon to perform duties above and beyond his normal firefighting routine.
Jennifer Buswell was filling a water tank at a riverbank dirt launch on the Knik River as she often did, and her two sons were waiting in her truck attached to the tank trailer. The bank beneath her gave way, sending truck, trailer, and family into the frigid water. Buswell was able to grab two-year-old Ryan, but three-year-old Clifford was swept away.
Roberts, along with Norm McDonald and Kris Anderson of the Alaska state Forest Service, was called on by the Mat-Su Borough Dispatch to help. The borough’s river rescue team would have taken more than an hour to arrive.
Roberts flew to the scene in 5 min. and landed on a nearby gravel bar to assess the situation. Although the mission was outside the interagency guidelines, Roberts and McDonald formulated a plan to accomplish the rescue.
They placed two other forestry workers about 500 ft. down river as secondary rescue personnel and returned to retrieve Buswell. With Anderson operating the radios and monitoring traffic, Roberts maneuvered the helicopter in for a vertical rescue in the wild water of the Knik.
As Roberts hovered with the skids just above the trailer, McDonald stepped out onto the skid and picked up Ryan and delivered him to medics waiting on the gravel bar. They returned and replicated the procedure to rescue Buswell. They then resumed the search for Clifford until low fuel forced them to return to the Palmer airport.
Clifford’s body was found hours later 1.5-mi away.
Other recipients of the 2004 HAI Awards of Excellence include:
Aviation Repair Specialist Award–Luis F. Garcia, director of maintenance for Papillon Airways Inc. in Grand Canyon, Ariz.
Igor I. Sikorsky Award for Humanitarian Service–The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. Air Rescue 5 Program of Long Beach, Calif.
Agusta Community Service Award–Stephen M. Hickok, president, Hickok & Associates, Inc. of Orange Beach, Ala.
Eurocopter Golden Hour Award–County Rescue Services of Green Bay, Wis. and the crew of Eagle III: George E. Miller, senior pilot and director of operations; Lt. Shaun Stamnes, air medical coordinator, and Michael P. Orlando, emergency medical technician.
Joe Mashman Safety Award–Timothy C. Tucker, chief instructor, Robinson Helicopter Co. Safety Course
Outstanding Certified Flight Instructor Award–Randal L. Bechtel, chief flight instructor and owner of Flight Check Ltd. of Fort Worth, Texas.
Aviation Maintenance Technician Award–Richard (Rick) Barnett, Gulf Coast maintenance manager for Air Logistics, LLC of New Iberia, La.
Excellence in Communications Award–Claire ap Rees, managing editor of Avia Press Associates of Somerset, England.
Helicopter Maintenance Award–John Kiesler, vice president of maintenance and operations for Evergreen Helicopters, Inc. in McMinnville, Ore.
MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award–Lt. Craig Neubecker, pilot; Lt. Shawn Koch, co-pilot, and Avionics Electronics Tech 1st Class William Greer of HITRON Jacksonville, U.S. Coast Guard, for a night-time intercept of a high-speed boat carrying 6,083 lb. of pure, uncut cocaine with a street value of $194.6 million.
Native Air Opens New Aeromedical Base
Native Air Services has based a Eurocopter AS350 at Paradise Valley Hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., providing round-the-clock service with a flight nurse, flight paramedic and pilot. Jim Weaver, Native Air president, said the new base will have an immediate positive impact on residents in North Phoenix and Scottsdale, cutting response times in half. The base will be Native Air’s 12th base in Arizona.
Bell Opens New Training Academy
Bell Helicopter’s Customer Training Academy began classes Jan. 10 at its new facilities at Alliance Airport, Fort Worth, Texas.
The academy has been training pilots for 57 years, since Bell began training in its Model 47 aircraft in 1947. In that time, according to Bell, the academy has trained more than 90,000 students, both pilots and mechanics, from more than 100 nations. The company said it also has trained tens of thousands of military personnel over the years.
"The Bell Customer Training Academy, with its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class instructors is an enormously important part of our goal to be the world’s premier aircraft manufacturer," said Bell Helicopter CEO Mike Redenbaugh.
The new facility has 18 large, modern classrooms and aircraft overhaul labs fitted for modern learning technology tools, including more than 41,000 sq. ft. of hangar space for hands-on maintenance training.
The company has built a new training heliport within a few minutes flying time of the academy. The new flight-training practice area is built on 100 acres just to the northwest of the Texas Motor Speedway and has three runways–a 2000-ft. lighted north/south runway an 850-ft. north/south runway and an 850-ft. east/west runway. There are four separate concrete landing pads. Full-time rescue personnel provide on-site support with a rescue cab and fire truck at their disposal.
The entire site is dedicated solely for the use Bell academy flight training.
The academy has a staff of 65 people including instructors and administrative personnel, seven dedicated training helicopters as well as three cockpit procedures training devices.
Apprehending Fleeing Suspects: Suspect Tactics and Perimeter Containment
Apprehending criminals on foot or in ground vehicles while flying several hundred feet above them in a helicopter requires coordination with police elements on the ground and good radio contacts, as well as a high degree of training between air and ground units.
Officer Jack H. Schonely, a helicopter pilot with the Los Angeles Police Department, has authored "Apprehending Fleeing Suspects: Suspect Tactics and Perimeter Containment," a book specifically dealing with the art of the chase.
While Schonely’s book is intended to be a teaching tool for young beat officers, police aircrews will also find that it has a wealth of helpful information. Through the use of photographs, diagrams and step-by-step descriptions, the book marries the mindset of the patrol officer to the special capabilities of the helicopter and helps to build an effective crime fighting relationship between the two.
Among the 114 pages of straight-talking text is a chapter entitled "Working With Airborne Assets," specifically on utilizing aircraft to help catch criminals. Subject matter includes when ground units should call for a helicopter, what the aircrew should do upon their arrival, and how to manage the chaos that usually accompanies the pursuit of a criminal. The book gives special emphasis to effective communications techniques between officers on the ground and those in the air, such as where the suspects were last seen, how officers should be deployed to block their escape and the safest way to close in for the apprehension phase.
"Apprehending Fleeing Suspects" is the result of over 24 years of lessons learned during the author’s experiences in a variety of assignments within the LAPD. Starting off as a patrolman in South Central Los Angeles, Schonely also served as a field-training officer, undercover vice detective, canine handler, and member of the elite Metropolitan Div. that handled stakeouts, VIP protection and the 1992 L.A. riots. Prior to becoming an LAPD pilot, he served as a tactical flight officer, where his time on the street proved particularly beneficial to his effectiveness in the aircraft.
"Apprehending Fleeing Suspects" (ISBN 0-398-07541-7) is available in soft cover from Charles C. Thomas Publisher, LTD, 2600 South First Street, Springfield, Illinois 62704. The cost is $21.95.
FlightSafety International has promoted Jim Waugh to Executive Vice President.
Waugh joined FlightSafety as Director of Marketing in 1976 and was Vice President – Marketing until his promotion.
Vice Adm. Donald S. Jones, a noted Naval helicopter aviator, died on December 13. Jones became a Naval Aviator in 1950 and was assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron One in September 1955. He served as Executive Officer of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Four from December 1967 until November 1968 when he was promoted to Commanding Officer. During his tour as CO of Squadron Four, he was tasked to develop procedures for the recovery of Apollo astronauts returning from space under nighttime and all-weather conditions. He was the recovery pilot for Apollo 8 and Apollo 11, including the recovery of the Apollo 11 crew led by Neil Armstrong, first man to set foot on the moon. Following his command of Squadron Four, Adm. Jones was named Air Officer of the USS Tripoli, then held increasingly important command positions until being named director, East Asia and Pacific Regions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in August 1980. He retired in March 1987 following his assignment as Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger.
Feb. 6-8–HELI-EXPO 2005, Anaheim, Calif. Contact Marilyn McKinnis, the Helicopter Association International, Alexandria, Virginia, 703-683-4646; fax 703-683-4745; web www.rotor.com; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 17-18–FAA Aviation Forecast Conference, Washington, D.C. Convention Center, Washington, D.C. Contact: Linda Baranovics, 202-267-7924; website: http://apo.faa.gov/conference/welcome.htm; e-mail: Linda.email@example.com
April 7-9–AeroExpo 2005, Santa Fe Conventions Center, Mexico City and Toluca Airport. Contact: Juan A. Jose 52+55+55-64-99-31; fax: 52+55-55-64-99-31; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.aeroexpo.com.mx
May 5-11–Army Aviation Association of America (Quad-A) Annual Convention, Disney Springs Coronado Resort, Orlando, Fla. Contact: Bob Lachowski, Monroe, Conn. 203-268-2450; fax: 203-268-5870; website: www.quad-a.org; e-mail: email@example.com.