Bell Beats Boeing, Aims for ARH Deliveries Next Year
Bell Helicopter plans to start delivering Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter to the U.S. Army starting next year. The U.S. Army picked Bell in late July to build its next-generation armed reconnaissance and scout helicopter. Plans call for the company to deliver 368 of the aircraft between next year and Fiscal 2013.
The Army awarded Bell an initial, $210.7-million contract to begin system development and demonstrate the new helicopter. That would include all sub-system integration and testing as well as training devices. Total value of the contract is estimated at $2.2 billion or more.
The new helicopter is to replace the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. It is intended to be a more powerful, militarized version of the Bell 407, itself a follow-on to the Bell 206 on which the OH-58 is based. The ARH will have a Honeywell HTS900 engine rated at 925 shp. takeoff power, a 15-percent increase over the Rolls-Royce 250-C47B in the standard 407.
Bell won the competition over Boeing and its A/MH-6 Mission Enhanced Little Bird entrant. Boeing earlier this year had purchased the rights to build the Little Bird from financially beleaguered MD Helicopters to ensure its ability to compete for the ARH work. What Boeing plans to do with those production rights now is not clear. Boeing released a statement after the Bell award that it will review the Army’s decision "over the next several weeks and will have more to report at that time."
Bell is building two development ARHs at its production plant in Mirabel, Canada. Once built, those aircraft will go to Bell’s XworX development prototype facility in Arlington, Texas for integration of the weapons systems "and other structural changes," said John Ricciardelli, Bell’s ARH program manager. The final manufacturing site for the production fleet "has not been determined yet, but it will be in Texas," he said. First flight of the ARH is scheduled for first quarter of next year.
Both the ARH and the 407X are being developed concurrently, with applicable data from the commercial 407X program being used in the ARH program. The engine integration testing is also being leveraged off of the testing that has been going on for over a year for the 407X program, Ricciardelli said.
The military qualification testing for the ARH and FAA certification testing for the 407X are also being run concurrently. In some instances, Bell will test the 407X to military qualification standards and use those for FAA certification if the military standards are higher, Ricciardelli said. "I actually share office space with Barry Kohler, my counterpart for the 407X program. We’re very integrated in the development of the ARH and 407X."
The next step in the development phase of the program will be a limited user test, "where we take two aircraft and provide them to the Army. They go out and validate all the performance and systems integration specifications, the `key performance parameters,’ of the aircraft." That occurs prior to the ARH program’s Milestone C, which is the low-rate initial production decision.
Ricciardelli also said the ARH program will have a combined test team of Army and contractor personnel. "They will make decisions based on what they need to validate and will determine the best places to do the testing." The testing could be done in Texas, at the Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Ala. or in Yuma, Ariz., depending on what is needed, he said.
Bell will be responsible for all systems integration, Ricciardelli said, with four key partners: Honeywell for the HTS900 engine, Rockwell Collins for the Common Avionics Architecture System, FlightSafety International for training and FLIR Systems for the target acquisition sensor suite. CSC and L3 are involved with FlightSafety for training–L3 with its AvCatt simulation system and CSC for integration with the Army’s Flight School XXI program.
First Australian-Built Tiger Goes to Army
July 18, 2005 will long be a red-letter day for the Australian Army Aviation Corps and Australian Aerospace (Eurocopter’s subsidiary in Australia). It marked the delivery of the first Australian-built ARH Tiger from that company to the Australian Defence Force.
Australian Aerospace has successfully delivered all ARH Tigers on time and on budget. An Australian $25-million expansion of its facilities will allow the Australian Defence Force’s new MRH90 troop-lift helicopter to also be produced at the Brisbane facility. Australia’s defence minister, Sen. Robert Hill, on hand for delivery of the first Australian-built Tiger, said the expansion will also open up opportunities for production of variants of the NH90, such as that of New Zealand’s version of that aircraft. The defence ministry has held talks with New Zealand to explore opportunities for co-operation on the MRH90 program and encourage New Zealand to use the Brisbane facility to build that aircraft, which it plans to replace its Iroquois helicopters.
At this time there are up to 12 ARH Tigers in Australia. ARH Tiger Nos. 1 and 2 are being used for certification. Tiger Nos. 3 and 4, the final two of the French production, went through final assembly and modification in Brisbane, having been completed in December 2004 on time.
The second Australian ARH Tiger is in final testing before hand over and there are sufficient fuselages on the line to bring the total in Australia to a round dozen. A good outlook to confirm the success of the AIR 87 ARH Tiger program.–Barney O’Shea
MD Helicopters Gets Financing, Teams on Army Utility Race
Lockheed Martin and MD Helicopters have teamed up to compete for the U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter program, basing their bid on the MD-900 Explorer. Lockheed Martin would serve as prime contractor and provide training, simulators and contractor logistics support if the team won the competition (see item below). MD Helicopters would build the aircraft at its Mesa, Ariz. facility.
Adam Miller, LUH program manager for Lockheed Martin, indicated it is likely the team’s LUH entrant will be powered by the twin Pratt & Whitney 207Es on the Explorer now. Other team members were not named.
The teaming came on the heels of MD Helicopters’ buyout and "significant restructuring transaction" by the New York-based private equity fund Patriarch Partnership, LLC. That deal, announced formally July 12 at the Airborne Law Enforcement Assn.’s annual convention in Reno, Nev., is expected to infuse capital into the cash-strapped helicopter company.
According to the companies, Patriarch took a controlling interest in the builders of the MD500, MD600 and MD900 helicopter lines. Sources inside MD said Patriarch Partners took a 51-percent stake in the company, with the remaining interest left in the hands of the Dutch company RDM. None of the principals would elaborate on the dollar figures involved in the deal.
MD, whose family of rotorcraft have enjoyed wide popularity, especially in the law enforcement community, began showing signs of cash-flow trouble in late 2003 when customers noticed a severe slowdown in parts availability. By 2004, sales of their entire product line had slumped amid rumors that the company could go bankrupt under the weight of millions of dollars in outstanding debt with component suppliers. Longtime operators of MD aircraft, such as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. and the Phoenix Police Dept., dumped their fleets of the four-place MD-500 series of helicopters, citing poor product support as a major reason for their switch to other aircraft. However, several police agenices, including the Houston Police Dept. recently placed new orders with the manufacturer.
In the second half of 2004, both Boeing and Sikorsky actively sought to buy out or buy in to MD in the hopes of making a hybrid company that would be more attractive to the Pentagon in the wake of the cancellation of their RAH-66 Comanche program. Boeing and Sikorsky walked away from their respective negotiations, leaving MD to close out 2004 with record low sales.
Earlier this year, Boeing purchased the intellectual rights and tooling from MD to build the Little Bird for, among other things, its entrant in the U.S. Army’s ARM competition.
U.S. Army Wants Light Utility Helicopter Bids by Sept. 12
Industry teams have until Sept. 12 to give the U.S. Army bids on how they propose to meet that service’s requirements for a new Light Utility Helicopter that can be delivered starting within 12 months.
The U.S. Army issued its request for proposals for the LUH July 26, outlining a program that calls for deliveries of at least 16 and as many as 26 low-rate initial production aircraft upon receipt of an award for the contract. The request projects award of the best-value contract by April 30, 2006. It would include options for 10 years of additional deliveries of the aircraft. The initial contract would cover the aircraft and provision of 14 medevac and hoist "B" kits, contractor logistics support, maintenance and flight crew training, engineering services and other supporting hardware and services.
The Army said it wants a "rapid path to fielding" the aircraft, which must hold an FAA type certificate and be in commercial production. It projects it would fly each aircraft fielded in Fiscal 2006 between 17 and 33 hr. a month, with that rate climbing to 262-522 hr. a month for the 27 to 43 aircraft to be procured in Fiscal 2007, if that option is exercised.
Bell plans to offer the 210 for the contract, while Lockheed Martin and MD Helicopters are teams to offer the MD-900. Eurocopter is pursuing partners for its bid, which would involve the EC135 or EC145. AgustaWestland may offer the twin-engine A109 or single-engine A119.
N.M. Sheriff’s Helicopter Shot Down at Burglary Site
Federal charges are being brought against a Rio Rancho, N.M. man accused of firing the shot that led to the crash of a sheriff’s department helicopter.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s MD500G was slowing to reverse orbit at 15-20 kt. and about 400 ft. agl. over the scene of a reported burglary about midnight on Aug. 6 when a bullet entered the pilot’s chin bubble and struck the left pedal, shattering it, according to Chief Deputy David Linthicum. The contract pilot immediately began an autorotation. Severely wounded by shrapnel from the bullet and pedal, Holland nonetheless managed to set the aircraft on the skids between two houses, a cinder block wall and some trees, said Linthicum, who several years ago set up the department’s air operations unit. Ballistic analysis indicated that if the bullet had not hit the pedal, it would have entered Holland’s lower abdomen and continued into his chest. Holland had just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the New Mexico National Guard.
The tactical flight officer, Deputy Ward Pfefferle, also was struck by shrapnel. The crew was on night-vision goggles when the aircraft was hit.
Federal authorities said they have charged 29-year-old Jason Kerns, with firing on the aircraft, which is a federal crime. Kerns reportedly was being held on a $1.8 million, cash-only bond at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque.
Northrop Grumman Reaches Milestones For UAVs
Northrop Grumman reached two milestones in two separate UAV programs this summer with the weapons firing of its RQ-8 Fire Scout and first flight of the MQ-5B Hunter, an advanced version of the well-proven RQ-5A.
On July 8, Northrop Grumman conducted the first engineering flight of its MQ-5B, an enhanced, multi-mission variant of the RQ-5A. The flight lasted 66 minutes and was at Libby Air Field, Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
The MQ-5B Hunter is larger than its predecessor, with a 34 ft. wing span compared to 29 ft. for the RQ-5A. It also has a longer maximum endurance, approximately 15 hr. versus the current 12 hr., and operating altitude, approximately 18,000 ft. compared to 15,000 ft.
Jim Bennett, Hunter’s program manager, said that the goal of the first flight was the evaluation the MQ-5B’s controllability and handling characteristics. The flight involved a series of controllability tests at various airspeeds. Subsequent tests are planned that will test the aircraft’s improved capabilities, including its avionics redundancy, camera-guided flight, mission-based return home and the ability to acquire targets accurately.
The flight was controlled by a Northrop Grumman prototype "One System" ground control station, a standard Army station that can be configured to fly a variety of Army UAVs, including the Shadow and Hunter, the company said. A planned test of using the One System station with an automated take-off and landing capability is planned for early next year.
Development of the MQ-5B is part of its on-going collaborative effort with the Army to address obsolescence, enhance the operational performance and reduce the maintenance costs of the Hunter fleet.
In Seeking a Name for a Helicopter, Start With History
When seeking a name for a new U.S. military aircraft, as the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command is now doing for the VH-71 version of the EH101 that is to carry the president of the United States, it is best to start with history.
There are many wickets through which such a name must pass before it can be approved and adopted. Certainly, a string of senior officers topped by those of flag rank, including the head of the respective service, must concur that the chosen name is a suitably strong and proud one. One would be wise to make sure that the respective service’s congressional liaisons have established that any influential lawmakers in the House or Senate, such as members of appropriations committees, are satisfied that they have had sufficient input to the name-selection process. And, of course, when one speaks of a presidential transport, all the persons of influence in White House circles have been consulted, including the Chief Executive himself.
Eventually, however, a preferred name will have to pass through a small office at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio without rejection. The U.S. Air Force is the official keeper of names for all U.S. military aircraft, regardless of which service will operate them. The individual services can select any name they like. If a name checks out, top brass of the service–including the head of public affairs–must approve. But before the name can be approved for use, it must pass certain criteria. Chief among them is whether the name is already designated for another aircraft.
The Wright-Pat office, which incorporates a series of daunting names like Approval Authority for Military Engine Designations, Control Point for Mission Design Series and Control Point for Popular Name, maintains a master list of names approved for current and retired aircraft. If the names suggested by a service (the office asks that at least three be submitted) are on that list, the service is advised that it might consider others.
This wicket poses some interesting challenges, as the list of names suggested by Rotor & Wing readers for the VH-71 show. Defender, Marlin, Night Hawk and Patriot are all taken. Columbia is not, however (NASA’s space shuttles are not military air vehicles). Nor is Liberty. While that is the name of the Rolls-Royce engine on the V-22, it is a Rolls-given name. The military no longer names its engines. (Another tip: it doesn’t matter if a name has been given to a naval vessel; that’s a separate list.) So two good names among many others on the list remain viable contenders for the VH-71’s moniker–one that would honor a lost space shuttle crew (and the female personification of the United States) and another highlighting what many Americans consider their nation’s most cherished virtue. Keep those suggestions coming in. NavAir’s still looking for help.
R&W READERS’ SUGGESTED NAMES FOR THE VH-71
(in Irish, "Seabhac")
|*names on the U.S. military’s master list of aircraft names|
Under Pressure, South Korea Cuts Military Helo Program Again
The Korean government will cut its plans to renew its helicopter fleet almost in half, going from 2.5 trillion won ($2.47 billion) for military helicopters to 1.3 trillion won ($1.28 billion). This will give the government 245 utility helicopters rather than the originally planned 477, which included attack helicopters. The new helicopters will be used to replace some 700 aging aircraft now used by the South Korean forces. Between 2005 and 2009, some 15 fleets of older generation helicopters will be retired based on the ministry’s combat standard. By 2012, about 200 fleets will be over their operational expectancy of 30 to 40 years.
The newly revised decision followed a report by the government’s Board of Audit and Inspection, Korea’s top auditing agency. The Board said that the government’s plan to build a local Korean Helicopter Program would not be commercially viable and that a proposed Korean made multi-role military helicopter that was planned for export would not be economically successful (R&W, October 2004, Page 10).
Under the newly KHP revised program, six prototype helicopters would be produced by a combination of Korean and foreign firms, led by Korea Aerospace Industries, Korea’s only helicopter manufacturer. Korea Aerospace Industries currently produces helicopters under licenses from original manufacturers.
The helicopter replacement program has been under study for roughly the past four years, but stalled following the report from the auditing board and from public opinion rallies against the high cost of the helicopters. However, the announcement by the U.S. government that it plans to pull out about one third of its troops in Korea has given the South Korean government impetus to get some program underway to replace the older aircraft.
ALEA Board Approves Law-Enforcement Air Unit Accreditation Standards
The Airborne Law Enforcement Assn.’s board of directors has approved accreditation standards for individual police air units after a years-long struggle to do so.
At the association’s recent annual convention in Reno, Nev., the directors unanimously agreed to accept the standards developed by the Airborne Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, said ALEA President Dan Schwarzbach of the Houston,Texas Police Dept. air unit. However, he added that the ALEA will not perform accreditation reviews of individual air units or provide any additional funding to the commission for that purpose.
The group began working on accreditation standards more than four years ago, with the objective of supporting an effort similar to that of the Commission for Accreditation of Air Medical Services, which has had a great deal of success in raising professional standards of EMS helicopter operations. But the effort petered out and exhausted the seed money that ALEA put into it and the group reconsidered its position on the matter.
With the standards drafted by the independent Airborne Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission and accepted by the ALEA, Schwarzbach said, they can be used as the basis for audits of airborne law enforcement units. If the commission can secure grant or other funding, it might pursue the long-sought accreditation goal, Schwarzbach said. But that funding won’t come from ALEA. Schwarzbach, who was re-elected to another two-year term as head of the group, said he will continue to support the commission’s efforts and to raise its funding needs with groups that he is soliciting to provide grant and other funding to the ALEA . There is also a prospect that helicopter manufacturers and vendors of law-enforcement equipment may provide another round of seed money for the accreditation efforts.
Probe Eyes Engine Part in Crash That Killed California Deputies
French regulators have told operators of Turbomeca Arrius 2F engines to remove and replace fuel control units similar to one implicated in the July 13 crash of a Eurocopter EC120 that killed two deputies from the Sacramento County, Calif. Sheriff’s Dept.
Deputies Joseph Kievernagel, 36, and Kevin Blount, 29, were killed while returning from assisting at the scene of a reported robbery in Folsom, Calif. After leaving that scene, they decided to monitor the area around nearby Lake Natomas, where crowds of people had gone to escape the summer’s heat. While orbiting over a 100-ft. hill, Kievernagel, the pilot of the department’s Star 6 aircraft, apparently lost throttle control. He declared a mayday as he struggled to control the aircraft. It struck a 60-deg. slope on the hill and did several violent rolls, apparently killing Kievernagel and Blount, his observer. An observer trainee, Deputy Erik Henrikson, survived with serious injuries.
Investigators for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board found evidence that the constant delta P diaphragm in the Arrius 2F’s fuel control unit was installed upside down. This likely led to rupture of the diaphragm and the loss of throttle control, said George Petterson, the NTSB investigator in charge.
Turbomeca issued a mandatory service bulletin Aug. 3 advising operators to remove fuel control units within a specific serial number range and to return those units to the manufacturer. Failure to do so "may lead to an uncommanded in-flight shutdown" and an accident, the bulletin said. The French Direction Generale de l’Aviation Civile on Aug. 17 adopted that bulletin as an airworthiness directive. The U.S. FAA was expected to follow suit. In taking that action, the DGAC recounted the details of the accident.
The increased fuel flow that resulted from the diaphragm rupture led to an increase in gas-generator, power turbine and rotor conditions. That, in turn, led to an uncommanded shutdown and failure of the power turbine blades.
The DGAC required removal of the fuel control units in question before further flight.
In addition to the engine failure, the NTSB investigation is looking at the crashworthiness of the EC120 and the seats and personnel restraints used on it. Petterson said both the pilot’s and observer’s seat used inertial-reel restraints. The investigation also checked the fuel control units on both of the sheriff’s department’s other EC120s and found no incorrectly installed parts.
Technology Getting Hard Look By EMS Operators
The air emergency medical service industry can benefit greatly through the use of advancing technology, although the real question is which new technologies can best be used and how to use them, according to Tom Judge, executive director of LifeFlight of Maine and president of the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS).
Judge said that a lot of attention is now being paid to Night Vision Goggles, but that there are a lot of questions to be answered before the industry can fully embrace them. First off, there is simply the matter of the availability of the goggles. Secondly is the logistical problem of getting them approved and STCed by the FAA for EMS helicopters.
A bigger issue, however, is the cost. "The fact that you have NVG doesn’t mean that you will get more flights, it doesn’t increase the bottom line. (NVGs) is a new cost that doesn’t produce revenue," he said.
But what is perhaps the most important issue is "that any new technology is going to actually increase risks rather than decrease risks. So even if it is a technology that is hugely important toward decreasing risks, in the short run, because it is new and different and takes a lot of learning, there is risk."
The AAMS ran a conference this summer specifically aimed at answering those issues, with all the helicopter and NVG manufacturers present, along with "every major operator in the EMS world" plus representatives from the FAA and NTSB, he said.
Colombia, Thailand Requesting Black Hawks Through Military Sales
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has sent notification to Members of Congress that requests have been received from the Colombian government and Thai government to buy UH-60L Black Hawks through the Foreign Military Sales program. Colombia has requested permission to purchase eight UH-60L Black Hawks while Thailand is asking for two UH-60Ls. The proposed contract with the Colombian government could reach roughly $100 million and includes engines, spare and repair parts, tools and support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment. The Thai request, which is to provide the two Black Hawks to the Royal Thai Navy also includes associated equipment and services, and could be as high as $46 million.
All requests for Foreign Military Sales are sent by the agency to Congress as a courtesy notification to its Members, and is required by law. If there is no objection placed by a member of Congress prior to a date specified in the notification, the sale is cleared to proceed through channels, but does not mean the sale is concluded.
In its notification to Congress, the agency said that the sale of the UH-60L helicopters to both Colombia and Thailand will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been, and continues to be, an important force in the war on drugs.
First Production MH-60R Flies
Sikorsky’s new production MH-60R had its first flight on July 28, performing the full flight acceptance profile during a 1.5 hr. flight, the company said. The profile included flight control checks, vibration measurements and engine power checks. The MH-60R has been designed as the U.S. Navy’s next generation submarine hunter and surface attack helicopter, replacing the SH-60B and -60F helicopters.
The Navy plans to purchase up to 254 UH-60R helicopters, with deliveries through 2015. The aircraft is being produced by a Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin team, with Sikorsky responsible for design and manufacturing, as well as mechanical and electrical modifications, while Lockheed Martin is providing the digital Common Cockpit avionics suite.
Test versions of the MH-60R have already been flying. A six-month developmental test phase, or Technical Evaluation, was completed last February, followed by an Operational Evaluation by the Navy beginning in May.
Following its initial test flights, the first production MH-60R will be flown to Lockheed Martin’s facilities in Owego, N.Y. for installation of the aircraft’s integrated mission systems.
Australia Shifts Black Hawks to Anti-Terror Role
One of the Australian Army’s Black Hawk helicopter squadrons will relocate to Holsworthy Barracks near Sydney by the end of next year to boost the ability of that nation’s special forces to respond to a terrorist threat on the east coast of Australia.
Defence Minister Robert Hill said basing the Army’s 171 Aviation Sqdn. at Holsworthy will provide a major new training and operational capability for the special forces on the East Coast.
171 Aviation Sqdn. will be relocated from Townsville in Queensland, and be replaced by the new MRH90 Troop Lift Helicopter Sqdn. The new MRH90 helicopters will be built at Australian Aerospace in Brisbane and delivered to Townsville beginning at the end of 2007.
"Since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the Howard Government has committed more than $1.3 billion to the ADF to fight the war against terrorism," Hill said. "special forces are a key part of Australia’s anti-terrorism capabilities. They are considered amongst the most capable special forces in the world and this initiative will further strengthen Australia’s domestic and offshore security capabilities."
The Black Hawk squadron will work with the soldiers of Special Operations Command, including the Tactical Assault Group at Holsworthy, and will provide enhanced mobility and training for this critical capability. The Tactical Assault Group’s primary role is to respond to terrorist threats against Australia.
The basing of the helicopter squadron at Holsworthy will improve the training of special forces in counter-terrorism and will be used to train special forces, commandos and the Incident Response Regiment, Hill said.
The relocation will involve the construction of new facilities to cater to the relocation of about 200 personnel, including new hangars and working accommodation.
The construction project will add to the program of works at Holsworthy to provide vital accommodation and modern infrastructure. This will allow the majority of the Sydney-based special forces elements to be centralised at the one location.
The redevelopment project will deliver a dedicated precinct to accommodate two key units of Special Operations Command, the 4th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (Commando)–including the Tactical Assault Group (East)–and the Incident Response Regiment. About 3,000 personnel are currently based at Holsworthy.
BA609 Flies in Airplane Mode, Expands Flight Envelope
Bell/Agusta 609 program officials were working last month to expand the flight envelope of the civil tilt-rotor following its successful conversion to airplane mode in free flight in over Bell Helicopter’s XworX research facility in Arlington.
With 609 Project Pilot Roy Hopkins and Bell pilot Jim Lindsey at the controls, the BA609 reached full airplane mode–with its nacelles rotated fully forward–at 9:23 am CDT on July 22. Since then, the test program has been concentrating on expanding the flight envelope step by step, said Jack Gallagher, executive director of Bell/Agusta programs. The flight tests are focused on gathering data on the aircraft’s aeroelastic, torsional stability and handling qualities and increasing the speeds at which the 609 is flown in airplane mode.
The initial conversion flight reached 190 kt. By mid-August, the aircraft had reached 255 kt. Gallagher said he expected it to reach the goal of 293 kt. by early this month. The higher speeds are flown with rotor rpm reduced from 569 to 475 to reduce vibration in and on the aircraft.
By mid-August, the aircraft also had been flown at a gross weight of 15,000 lb., with just under 2,000 lb. of fuel. The 609 has a design gross weight of 16,800 lb. and can carry 2,600 lb. of fuel.
BA609 No. 2 is at AgustaWestland’s assembly and flight-testing facility in Italy, where tests are progressing in support of aircraft No. 1. Aircraft No. 2 is scheduled to make its first flight during the fourth quarter of this year.
Gallagher said the BA609 flight test program has about 1,000 test events that are to be completed by year’s end. Aircraft No. 2 is scheduled to join the program with a first flight from the test center at Cameri, Italy before the end of this year..
Eurocopter Stays Big In Law Enforcement
American Eurocopter reported major sales and deliveries of EC120s and AS350s to local and federal law enforcement agencies during the Airborne Law Enforcement Assn. conference held in Reno, Nev. last July. The orders continue the company’s roughly 60 percent hold on the law enforcement market over the past several years, according ton Larry Roberts, vice president of customer affairs. "The recent orders and deliveries consolidate our position as a market leader," Roberts said. "We have a long-term commitment to the law enforcement market and will continue to develop our product line to meet customer requirements and recommendations."
The Grand Prairie, Texas-based company reported that the U.S. Homeland Security Dept.’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection has contracted for up to 55 EC120Bs and received the final two of four AS350B3s previously ordered. Two additional AS350B3 were delivered to the Phoenix Police Dept., giving it a total of three.
In California, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office is in the process of receiving three AS350B3s from an order for six, with the remaining three scheduled for delivery next year. Roberts noted that the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office has to cover an area of 23,000 sq. mi., the largest county landmass in the United States, encompassing topography ranging from Death Valley, which is below sea level, to the San Bernardino mountains reaching in excess of 12,000 ft. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office also took delivery of its first AS350B, to be called "Duke 1," in reference to the actor John Wayne, who lived in Orange County, while the Fresno, Calif. Police Dept. took delivery of its second EC120. In New York, the Suffolk County Police Dept. took delivery of its second AS350B2.
As part of its marketing program, American Eurocopter participates in the funding and endorsement of training at law enforcement seminars, as well as sponsoring nationally recognized awards such as the ALEA Aircrew of the Year and Maintenance Technician of the Year, Roberts said. It also supports and funds events at regional safety seminars organized by the ALEA, he said.
American Eurocopter also announced in July the follow-on order for 10 EC135s by Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. The exercise of its option for the 10 aircraft brings the total order to 20, to be used both in the oil and gas industry and for air medical operations. All 20 twin-engine helicopters are single-pilot IFR equipped. Those designated for offshore service will be used to replace the workhorse BO105 and will be put into service beginning next year, with all 20 to be delivered by the end of next year.
NTSB To Assist In Foreign Helicopter Crash Investigations
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to Sudan to help determine the cause of the crash that killed John Garang, Sudan’s first vice president. Also killed in the crash of the Mi-172 helicopter were six of Garang’s associates and the seven man crew of the helicopter. The NTSB team, headed by senior investigator Dennis Jones, has been sent at the request of the U.S. Department of State, even though it was a Russian helicopter that crashed in a foreign country.
The helicopter crashed in the Amatonj mountains of southern Sudan near Garang’s base. He had been visiting with Sudanese President Yoweri Museveni and was headed back to his base in New Site, Sudan.
The Board has also dispatched an investigation team headed by Lorenda Ward to assist in determining the cause of an Aug. 9 Copterline S-76 crash into the Baltic Sea off Tallinn, Estonia.
Bell Gains FAA Ticket for 210
The Bell 210 medium transport helicopter received its FAA certification July 21 following a development program that stretched from Texas to Tennessee. Dave Downey, manager of the FAA Rotorcraft Directorate (below left, below) presented the aircraft’s type certificate to Bell CEO Mike Redenbaugh (below right) in ceremonies at company headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Bell 210, which made its first flight Dec. 18, 2004, at Bell affiliate company Edwards & Associates in Bristol, Tenn., was also flight tested at company facilities in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. First customer deliveries will begin in November 2005. "The Bell 210 is the perfect solution for the many agencies that need a medium utility helicopter such as Homeland Security, law enforcement or firefighting, " declared Mr. Redenbaugh.
In addition to its appeal for commercial applications, the Bell 210 helicopter is also being offered as a solution to the US Army’s requirement for a Light Utility Helicopter. According to Bell, the Bell 210 could more economically perform many missions now supported by the Army with assets that are marked for replacement in the LUH program. These Light Utility Helicopters would perform future utility missions for non-combat organizations, National Guard utility, drug interdiction efforts, medevac and homeland defense missions.
Seyer Industries, a small business in Saint Peters, Mo., has won an $8.9-million, firm, fixed-price contract from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command for an aircraft hoisting unit. Work is to be performed in Saint Peter and completed by June 30, 2010.
The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command has awarded General Electric Aircraft Engines three separate contracts and contract modifications collectively valued at $75 million for overhaul and repair of the entire T700 family of engines. Work is to be performed in Corpus Christi, Texas, and is to be completed by Dec. 31, 2005.
GE Aircraft Engines in Lynn, Mass. has won a $33.9-million firm, fixed-price requirements contract from the U.S. Naval Inventory Control Point for 36 line items used on a variety of aircraft engines, including those for the CH-46D, H-3, CH-46E, H-1, H-60 and H-53. Exercise of the contract’s options could boost its total value to $62.1 million. Work is to be done in Lynn and completed by 2008.
The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command awarded MD Helicopters. a $41.5-million firm, fixed-price contract to repair and refurbish Apache AH-64s returning from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan under the Army’s Reset program. Work is to be done in Mesa, Ariz. and completed by Dec. 31, 2008. MD also won a $27.2-million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for exploration of the open-system architecture technology in the Apache Longbow AH-64D. Also to be done in Mesa, that work should conclude by Nov. 30, 2005.
Michelin Aircraft Tire Corp. has been awarded $92.9 million in options under previously awarded firm-fixed-price performance based logistics contract by the U.S. Naval Inventory Control Point under the Foreign Military Sales Program that cover 23 separate naval aviation tires supporting requirements for aircraft including the V-22, H-60, H-46, H-53 and H-3 aircraft. The award combines requirements for the navy and the governments of (in order of their share of the award) Spain, Kuwait and Japan, Egypt, Taiwan, Malaysia, Italy and New Zealand. Work is be performed in Greenville, S.C., and completed by January 2010.
Rolls-Royce has been awarded a defense contract worth nearly $19 million to produce a key safety enhancement to protect U.S. military aircraft from heat-seeking missiles. The new engine components, known as Infrared Exhaust Suppressors, are designed to reduce the heat signature of gas turbine engines, diminishing vulnerability to heat-seeking missile attacks. Engineering and program management will be conducted at Rolls-Royce facilities in Indianapolis, and production work through subcontractors in Danville, Illinois, and Brea, California. The contract runs through May 31, 2007. The contract enables the U.S. Department of Defense to order up to 100 infrared suppressor shipsets (two per aircraft) to be fitted to Special Operations Command MH-47 Chinook helicopters.
GE CT7-8B5 turboshaft engine has been selected to power the U.S. Army Special Operations MH-60M Black Hawk (Sikorsky) aircraft. The initial 2005 contract to General Electric Company for $15.5 million is for the development program, which includes engine development and aircraft integration activities, and flight test engines and support. Flight-test engine deliveries are scheduled to begin in January 2006, with initial flight-testing planned for 2007.
Telephonics Corp. has won a subcontract award from General Dynamics Canada to supply radar system hardware for the Canadian Maritime Helicopter Project. For the award, Telephonics will provide 31 ship sets of integrated Maritime Surveillance Radar and Mark XIIA Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator sub-system hardware with options for initial spares and 20 years of in-service support. The subcontract, including all options, could exceed $50 million, the company said .
S-92 Expands Helideck Performance Envelope
Sikorsky Aircraft is expanding the flight envelope of its S-92 with new flight manual procedures covering European offshore operations. The new procedures allow the aircraft to either land safely on the helideck or continue flight if an engine is lost during takeoff or landing.
Sikorsky added JAR-OPS 3 (Joint Aviation Requirements Operations 3) Performance Class 2e Elevated Helideck performance data to the flight manual after completing 250 takeoff and landing maneuvers with simulated engine failures on a fully instrumented S-92, according to the company.
The flight test data was incorporated into the flight path computer simulation model to generate S-92 helideck performance charts to meet expected future European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) operational performance requirements.
Most European-based, twin-engine helicopters currently operate offshore in accordance with Performance Class 2 data. Performance Class 2 operations accept a limited period of exposure during which the loss of an engine at takeoff from or landing on a helideck may result in a forced water landing.
The JAA is expected to require all twin-engine aircraft to meet the Performance Class 2e criteria by 2010. With the addition of the new Performance Class 2e data, the S-92 meets the requirement well before that deadline, according to Sikorsky.
The company said the S-92 is the first helicopter in the world certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency/Joint Aviation Authorities (EASA/JAA) to the latest and most rigorous safety standards. The S-92 was also the first helicopter certified by the FAA to FAR Part 29 Transport Rotorcraft, Amendment 47, the latest U.S. safety regulations, which mirror the European standards.
In other news, Sikorsky said its S-76 fleet has accumulated more than 4 million total flight hours. This achievement was made possible by the more than 220 operators currently flying close to 600 aircraft in 59 countries around the world.
In February, Sikorsky unveiled a series of engine, air vehicle, interior and avionics upgrades available for order immediately on the new S-76C++ helicopter and a set of additional product improvements that will lead to the launch of the new S-76D model in 2008.
Adm. Michael G. Mullen was appointed the U.S. Navy’s 28th chief of naval operations on July 22, succeeding Adm. Vernon E. Clark. Mullen’s most recent operational assignment was commander, Joint Force Command Naples and commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe. Based in Naples, Italy, he had operational responsibility for NATO missions in the Balkans, Iraq, and the Mediterranean as well as for providing overall command, operational control, and coordination of U.S. naval forces in the European Command area of responsibility.
Former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Member Richard F. "Dick" Healing has become a senior partner with R Cubed Consulting, LLC, a Washington-based consulting firm specializing in introducing emerging technologies to the federal market, focusing on defense, NASA, homeland security, safety and transportation. Healing will remain engaged with safety issues as well as expand his relationships in the federal market place.
Lilian Braylé ¨as been appointed managing director of Turbomeca Australasia, replacing St. John Williamson. He began his career at Turbomeca in 1991 as a quality business engineer within the Land and Marine Turbines division. He has been in Australia since 2002 as the Turbolink-Corporate Service Engineers senior manager, in charge of the global organization for the support for helicopter engines.
Anthony A. Viotto had been selected as the executive vice president and chief financial officer for Bell Helicopter. Viotto will report to Ted French, chief financial officer for Textron, as well as be responsible for Bell financial business matters to Bell CEO Mike Redenbaugh. Bell also has named Shane Eddy to the posts of vice president of customer support and services and deputy chief service officer.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has appointed Jim LaBelle as director of its regional aviation office in Anchorage, Alaska. LaBelle has been a senior air safety investigator in the Alaska office for the past 10 years and served as acting director for the past year. LaBelle has more than 5,000 hr. as a professional pilot and has been with the safety board since 1987.
Lycoming Engines has announced numerous new appointments. Dane McGuffee has been named director of aftermarket sales, Almir Bolina as senior director of engineering, Suzette Snyder as senior manager, human resources, and Bryan Blunt as director of quality. It also announced the election of Doug Bubb as the new president of Lycoming’s UAW Local 787 union.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser, formerly director of the U.S. Army Aviation Task Force, has been named director of the strategic operational planning directorate for the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center in Washington. Brig. Gen. Steve Mundt has succeeded him as task force director.
Sept. 19-21–U.S.-European Competition and Workshop on Micro Aerial Vehicles, Elmau Castle, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Contact: Brigitte Metz, German Aerospace Center Institute for Aeroelasticity, 49-551-709-2342; Fax: 0049-551-709-2862; Website: www.us-euro-mav.com.
Sept. 21-24–Aviation Expo 2005, Bejing, China. Contact: China Promotion Ltd., 852-2511-7427; Fax: 852-2511-9692; Website: cpexhibition.com.
Sept. 24-28–International Assn. of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference, Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami, Fla. Contact: Chrissy Hart. (800) 843-4227 ext. 238; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.theiacp.org.
Sept. 26-29–AHS Int’l Helicopter Safety Symposium, Omni Mont-Royal Hotel, Montré¡¬, Qué¢¥c. Contact: Kim Smith, (703) 684-6777; Website: www.ihss2005.com.
Sept. 30-Oct. 1– Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) 25th (Silver Anniversary) annual membership meeting, Marriott Whippany, Whippany, N.J. Contact: Cliff Whiting, (516) 987-0739; E-mail: email@example.com; Website: www.erhc.org.
Oct. 3-6–American Helicopter Society International Powered Lift Conference, Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine, Texas. Contact: Kim Smith, (703) 684-6777; Website: www.vtol.org.
Oct. 15-16–American Helicopter Museum Rotorfest, West Chester, Penn. Contact: (610) 436-9600; Website: www.helicoptermuseum.org.
Oct. 23–Wings, Wheels, Rotors Expo, Los Alamitos Army Airfield, Los Alamitos, Orange Co., Calif. Helicopters on display along with warplanes, classic cars and motorcycles. Includes Helicopter Awareness Day. Contact: Show organizers, telephone: (562) 598-6659; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.wrexpo.com.
Oct. 25-27–American Helicopter Society National Technical Specialists’ Meeting on Rotorcraft Structures and Survivability, Radission, Fort Magruder Inn and Conference Center, Williamsburg, Va. Contact: Jerry Irvine, (757) 878-3272; Website: www.ahs-hrc.org
Nov. 7-9–2nd Int’l Basic Research Conference on Rotorcraft Technology, Nanjing, China. Contact: Prof. Gao Zheng, 86-25-84892120; E-mail: email@example.com, or Prof. Daniel Schrage, (404) 894-6257; E-mail: Daniel.Schrage@aerospace.gatech.edu.
Nov. 15-17–Heli Power 2005, Sheraton Roma Hotel & Convention Center, Rome, Italy. Contact: Herve Bavazzano (exhibitions), 44-1628-606980; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sam Cader (delegates), 44-1628-606979; E-mail: email@example.com; Website: www.shephard.co.uk/heli-power.