European Helo Group Names New Chief
The European Helicopter Assn. new chairman is focused on strengthening relationships among operators in the group’s 15 member nations and developing a collective voice on regulatory matters affecting rotorcraft.
Vittorio Morassi, president and managing director of Helicopters Italia Srl of Trento, Italy and head of several other Italian helicopter endeavors, spoke with Rotor & Wing shortly after his election as EHA chairman at the Helitech 2005 trade show in Duxford, England on Sept. 28. He succeeds Siegfried Sobotta, a former co-chairman of Eurocopter.
A key goal of his term, Morassi said, is "strengthening relationships among the association’s members. We need to develop a common understanding and a view of how to proceed" on operational, environmental and regulatory matters.
The group’s council of management includes 15 European countries with helicopter operators that have "different cultures, different operating environment, even different regulations." The challenge for the group, he said, is to persuade European authorities, including the European Aviation Safety Agency, to adopt rules and regulations that recognize those differences without penalizing them. Some members of the European industry are concerned that it is suffering from prohibitive rules and regulations with regard to rotorcraft.
"We have to take care of our operators, who are under pressure" on both economic and regulatory fronts, Morassi said.
New MD Leadership Vows "Rapid Change" in Mesa
The New York financier who led the recent takeover of MD Helicopters, Inc. says customers and competitors will see improvements fast in the company long plagued by financial and product support problems.
"You’re going to see rapid change," said Lynn Tilton. "Not words–real change." Tilton is chairman of Patriarch Partners, the New York firm that in July bought a controlling stake in the Mesa, Ariz.-based manufacturer.
Tilton said MD’s first priority is repairing and rebuilding its relationship with its commercial aircraft customers.
Patriarch is a "distressed debt" specialist that buys the debt of troubled companies with promising product lines and attempt turn them around. Tilton is "very highly regarded in that nook of the investment world," according to one financier familiar with the firm. Another, Chairman and CEO Steve Townes of Keystone Ranger Holdings (which owns Keystone Helicopter and Composite Technology, Inc.), said Patriarch "is huge, very diverse and very strong. Lynn Tilton has enough capital to turn MD Helicopters into a very intriguing wild card."
Tilton’s firm has more than $4.5 billion under management and holds equity ownership positions in more than 60 companies.
Tilton said Patriarch was approached by one of MD Helicopters’ creditors, Wachovia Bank, which had become concerned that the helicopter maker’s problems had worsened to the point that it was on the brink of dismemberment.
The feeling was that "the company was really beginning to tear apart themselves" as it struggled to keep customer demands for parts and support satisfied. A chief concern was that MD Helicopters would sell off its spares stock to generate cash, since that stock was about the most valuable tangible asset it had left.
Tilton said both her interest and action were spurred by Lockheed Martin’s desire to team with MD Helicopters on an MD-902-based entrant in the U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter competition to eventually supply more than 300 helicopters.
And the action was swift. Tilton said she was approached about MD Helicopters in the last days of May. The deal to take a 51-percent stake in the company closed on July.
"I’m known as the quickest dollar on Wall Street," she said, but that pace was even fast for her. It was necessary, she said, because of concern that "if the deal did not close quickly, there would be little left."
Speed can breed discomfort in financial transactions, particularly for those used to doing extensive due diligence of the companies with which they consider becoming involved. Tilton said she was made more comfortable with the speed of the MD Helicopters transaction by the promise of the company’s product line and the extent of support from both employees and customers willing to remain loyal despite MD Helicopters’ longstanding problems.
"We look for development prospects," Tilton said of Patriach. "We `re never frightened by the problems a company may be having" if there is a good prospect of regaining a solid market position and of "building efficiency and creating efficiency to bring the company into the future." She said she’s convinced that is the case with MD Helicopters.
LUH UPDATE: Eurocopter Teams; MD & Lockheed Split
Eurocopter is tapping Sikorsky Aircraft as the logistics partner in the team bidding its UH-145 entry (shown below) in the U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter. At the Assn. of the U.S. Army show in Washington last month, Eurocopter also named WestWind Technologies as systems integration, engineering support and program management partner and said CAE would provide simulation and training.
In other developments, Lockheed Martin and MD Helicopter, which had said they would partner on an LUH entry, said they had ended that relationship. MD plans to compete on its own, although it is considering taking on logistics and other partners. Dissolution of the partnership was considered mutual, with both sides agreeing that the their collaborative efforts would not meet the Army’s cost and other requirements.
Also, AgustaWestland jumped into the LUH race with the US139, a militarized version of its AB139. Stephen Moss, president of AgustaWestland Inc., said the A109 had been considered, but could not meet all of the Army’s requirements. The AB139 was designed "from its inception" to replace the UH-1 Huey, which is the primary mission of the proposed LUH, Moss said, adding that the US139 would be 30 percent faster and have a cabin 63 percent larger but with the same footprint as the UH-1.
AgustaWestland is prime contractor for Team US139, with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems as a partner to perform final assembly and integration of government-specific avionics at its Waco, Texas facility. L-3 will also provide logistic support. Regarding Bell Helicopter’s involvement, Moss said while Bell’s 25 percent of the AB139 program, it is not involved in the US139. Bell intended to offer the 210 as its LUH entry, but has switched to the 412, citing the difficulty and expense of getting the 210 IFR-certified to meet LUH requirements. The 412 is already FAA IFR-certified.
Stephen Eppinette, Bell’s LUH campaign lead, said it has already produced more than 700 412s that are operating in over 55 countries around the world and has a cumulative flight time in excess of 3 million hours.
Of those, 40 percent are serving in the military role, including 28 Bell 412s with the Royal Norwegian Air Force, 98 with the Canadian forces and 15 with the British Army, all of which have a reliability factor in the high 90 percent range, Eppinette said. He also emphasized the long life components on the 412, to include 4,000-plus TBO hours on the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-3D engines, on-condition main rotor blades, 5,000 hr. TBO for the tail rotor blades, transmission and 90 and 42 deg. gearboxes, and 4,000 hr. on the combining gearbox.
Bell ARH On Track
Bell’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program is on track to meet the U.S. Army’s delivery scheduled, according to Mike Miller, Bell’s director of Army programs. Speaking at last month’s Assn. of the U.S. Army show in Washington, D.C., Miller said the Systems Requirements Review was successfully completed Sept. 1 and that the first two ARH airframes are in production at Bell’s Mirabel, Canada facility for delivery later this year to Bell’s Amarillo facility for configuration into the ARH. The ARH is a militarized version of the Bell 407, and airframes for the ARH will go down the same production line as the 407. Miller said that while Bell will build only 65 407s this year, it has demonstrated the ability to produce 140 a year and has the capability to build up to 200 a year. More than 600 407s have been built since the aircraft went into production in 1996, with a total flight time in excess of 1.2 million hr.
Boeing Starts Production of CH-47F, Pushes Work On Advanced Concepts
Boeing started work on the new CH-47F Chinook heavy-transport helicopter for the U.S. Army Cargo Helicopter modernization program Oct. 3.
The new airframe as part of the remanufacturing program will reduce required maintenance on the existing Chinook airframes, some of which are almost 40 years old, said Col. Tim Crosby, U.S. Army product manager for the Chinook, in a statement. The new airframe has components that reduce operating and support costs while improving the structural integrity of the aircraft.
The new CH-47F Chinook, an upgraded model of the CH-47D Chinook helicopter, has 4,868 horsepower from each of its two engines that allow it to reach more than 175 miles per hour and to transport up to 21,016 pounds.
Chicago-based Boeing Co.’s (NYSE: BA) Integrated Defense Systems unit, its largest subsidiary, is based in St. Louis and is the area’s second-largest employer.
Boeing, pushing on with he unmanned OH-6 idea even though they lost the ARH, says a mortar counter-fire application on it will start in a few months. The aircraft will hover over a battlefield and pass firing info on the mortar launch point to the ground. Once that info’s done, Waldo Carmona, Boeing’s director of advanced rotorcraft programs says, the Little Bird would launch off its own – with a GAU-19 machine gun to rain down death on the miscreants below.
BOEING ALSO IS WORKING ON TWO CONTRACTS TO PERFORM CONCEPTUAL DESIGN AND ANALYSIS OF VERTICAL-TAKEOFF-AND-LANDING CONCEPTS FOR THE JOINT HEAVY LIFT PROGRAM. ONE CONTRACT, FOR $ 3.4 MILLION, IS FOR ITS ADVANCED TANDEM ROTOR HELICOPTER. THE OTHER CONTRACT, WORTH $3.45 MILLION, GOES TO THE TEAM OF BELL HELICOPTER, A TEXTRON COMPANY, AND BOEING PHANTOM WORKS FOR THE QUAD TILT-ROTOR AIRCRAFT. CIVIL
Montreal Safety Confab Galvanizes Industry
Top executives from Sikorsky and Bell joined with a more than 250 other helicopter operators, designers, researchers, equipment manufacturers and regulators in Montreal in late September to pledge support for a joint effort to clean up the industry’s accident problem.
Such a large turnout from a relatively small industry at the first International Helicopter Safety Symposium was testament to the seriousness of the situation, said conference organizer, Somen Chowdhury, research manager at Bell Helicopter. Chowdhury first came up with the idea of launching an industry-wide safety effort to reduce accidents several years ago.
Billed as the first assembly of its kind, the IHSS was not meant to usurp the vast number of safety actions underway in the industry, but to better focus such efforts by bringing the industry as a whole together to jointly attack the problem. Chowdhury commented that there had been "no one venue for looking at all aspects of safety." Roy ReSavage, president of Helicopter Association International, agreed saying, "the level of integrated operation that needs to take place" had not taken place.
Though who will pay for what comes next remains unclear, the interest level in Montreal demonstrated that a critical mass has been reached in the pursuit of an 80% reduction in the accident rate within 10 years, a goal set as a result of the meeting. Leading the effort will be AHS, HAI and the FAA.–John Croft
ITT Launches SINCGARS Controller, Logs NVG Orders
The AUSA show was also the launching platform for the ITT Industries’ Export Radio Control Display Unit (ERCDU). The ERCDU provides remote control of the ARC-201 SINCGARS airborne receiver in helicopters that do not have a MIL STD 1553 bus controller or where integration with an existing MIL STD 1553 bus controller is not considered to be economical. The ERCDU is built in ITT’s Basingstoke, U.K. facility by ITT Defence Ltd. The non-export version is now going on all British MoD helicopters except the Apache, according to Helen O’Hanlon, ITT Defence marketing communications manager. The ERCDU provided dedicated serial control of up to two ARC-201 VHF airborne radios, with a keypad and display shared between the two radios. The unit is lightweight (2.2 lb.) and offers a low-cost alternative to full conversion to MIL STD 1553 control, O’Hanlon said.
ITT also announced at the show that it had won a contract from the Army for Enhanced Night Vision Goggles (ENVG) that combines image intensification and next generation infrared imaging. The contract has an initial base award for a one-year program worth $10 million, but with a potential estimated value of $560 million over a five-year period.
Show Enjoys Good Weather, Good Crowds
Helitech 2005 enjoyed delightedly fickle weather that matched the recent fortunes of many in the helicopter industry. The show opened appropriately on Sept. 27 on the grounds of the U.K. Imperial War Museum in Duxford, England with sunny skies and a bit of nostalgia (with World War II big-band serenades in Duxford’s American Air Museum).
More than 7,000 attendees and exhibitors from around the world were greeted by sunny skies broken periodically by clouds, winds and a bit of rain on the opening day.
MD Helicopters, which has been under its fair share of dark clouds, made a splash at the show, having a new majority owner and new top leadership. The had of its new parent company, Lynn Tilton of Patriach Partners, met with customers and vendors during her first visit to Helitech.
The Bell/Agusta Aerospace AB139, which missed the 2003 Helitech as it struggled to resolve FAA certification issues, has put that storm behind it. The AB139 made its Helitech debut, with the aircraft on static display handed over to its new owner, Norway’s Lufttransport A/S, on Sept. 27. The Tromso, Norway-based helicopter and fixed-wing operator will use the medium twin for passenger shuttle service between the city of Bod? the island of Væ²¸y, a right that lies above the Arctic Circle.
In general, exhibitors and attendees alike seemed pleased with the show. One exhibitor complained of a dearth of non-British visitors to his booth, but most others said they had a wide diversity of visitors come by their displays during the course of the show, with many coming from Russia, former Soviet states and Eastern Europe. Several exhibitors did comment that there was a noticeable drop-off in the number of military vistors–both from the United Kingdom and other nations–in comparison to the 2003 show.
First-time exhibitors included MF Aviation, a medium-sized engineering company in Perth, Scotland. Sandy Barnett, its general manager, has been in the industry for many years, with British Airways helicopters and its successors. The company service Robinsons and MD (Hughes) 500s for third parties and is hoping to expand its activities. Barnett said he was well pleased with the number of people who had visited his stand."
Sikorsky Taps Thales for S-76D Cockpit
Sikorsky Aircraft has named Thales as its teammate to provide the cockpit for the new S-76D planned for service introduction in 2008. The French global electronics company will draw on its TopDeck family of avionics suites for the new cockpit. Thales will be the integrator and avionics supplier of the flight deck. Sikorsky launched the S-76D at HAI’s Heli-Expo show in February.
"These product improvements will ensure a bright future for the S-76," said Mick Maurer, Sikorsky’s vice president of commercial programs. "We’re glad Thales will be a part" of the new aircraft program."
Thales’ selection follows nearly a year-long competition with other leading avionics manufacturers to provide the S-76D avionics. The competition was conducted in close cooperation with Sikorsky’s customers through a series of "customer advisory council" meetings held in the U.S earlier this year.
The TopDeck avionics suite is designed as a complete and integrated package providing all the functions required for glass cockpit and automatic flight control system operations. It is derived from the state-of-the-art modular avionics suite originally developed for the Airbus A380.
The selection marks the first time Thales has been picked to supply the line of glass cockpits for a U.S. helicopter maker’s type fleet.
Bell Mounts New Push in European Markets
Bell Helicopter is refocusing on European rotorcraft markets with new products aimed at meeting twin-engine and new aircraft requirements.
"Europe has not had the full benefit of what Bell’s broad product line can bring to its markets," said Bell CEO Michael "Red" Redenbaugh.
The Fort Worth, Texas manufacturer is highlighting its new 429 with a major display of the mockup for that aircraft in Helitech’s exhibit hall. Redenbaugh said he expects the 429 to draw "a lot of attention" in Europe.
That and other new aircraft, like Bell’s new 210 successor for the Huey and the pending 407X upgrade of the 407, will support Bell initiatives in Europe and elsewhere around the globe. "Our next new push is to go international," said Bob Fitzpatrick, Bell senior vice president of marketing and sales. "Helitech is the start of that push."
In a key element of that push, Bell named Patriot Aviation as its representative in the United Kingdom. "The U.K. is a critical market," said Scotty Fitzgerald, Bell’s vice president for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. "We felt we needed a representative that understood police and air ambulance needs from a customer point of view as well as a regulatory one."
Eurocopter Claims Lion’s Share Of Homeland Security Market
Eurocopter’s efforts to capture law-enforcement, border patrol, coast guard and similar market segments with modified versions of its light, twin-engine aircraft is paying off, according to the company.
It claims to have captured a 52-percent share of the worldwide market for "homeland security" applications. In response to burgeoning global demand for homeland-security capabilities since 2001, Eurocopter has been modifying its products, particularly the EC135 and EC145, for law-enforcement, border patrol and coast guard missions, as well as for firefighting and military services.
THE IRISH AIR CORPS IS THE LATEST GOVERNMENTAL CUSTOMER TO FLY SUCH AIRCRAFT, HAVING TAKEN DELIVERY THIS MONTH AND LAST OF TWO EC135S. HELITECH 2005
Robinson Offers Air-Conditioned R44s
Robinson Helicopter will offer R44 Raven IIs with air conditioning as an option beginning with deliveries in 2006. The system consists of individual overhead vents providing 250 CFM total airflow, using standard automotive refrigerant and a 12,000 BTU/hr cooling capacity. The evaporator and fan are mounted to the aft cabin bulkhead, preserving all four baggage compartments. During operation the system uses about 3 hp.and is controlled by a toggle switch with off, low, and high fan settings. The compressor is engaged when the fan is switched on and automatically disengages when the engine is near full throttle to ensure maximum aircraft performance. The system weighs 33 lb. and costs $18,000. Robinson said that air conditioning system is not yet available as an option.
U.S. Air Force Issues Combat SAR Request
The U.S. Air Force has issued its final request for proposal for a Combat Search And Rescue aircraft.
The final RFP mirrors the draft RFP, calling for a baseline, non-developmental, medium-lift, rotorcraft to replace the HH-60G fleet.
Competing in the competition are the Boeing HH-47, Sikorsky H-92, Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland/Bell Team US101 and Bell Boeing V-22. A final selection is to be made following a fly-off evaluation of the candidates at Nellis AFB, Nev.
The winning candidate is to provide three production-representative aircraft under Block O beginning in Fiscal 2006 and two production-representative aircraft under Block 10 scheduled for Fiscal ’11, although that could be pushed forward to Fiscal ’08 based on funding.
Initial cost of the program includes $633 million for research development test and evaluation through 2011 and production funding of $1.2 billion between 2008 and 2011.
A total of 141 production aircraft are to be acquired under Block 10, of which 119 would be primary aircraft and 22 will be for backup and attrition.
Elsewhere at the Show . . .
PZL-Swidnik signed a letter of intent with Rolls-Royce to purchase 10 Rolls-Royce Model 250-C20R engines for its SW-4 light-single helicopter program. The 450-shp. engines are to be delivered next year. The company anticipates signing a multi-year contract with the Polish air force for 30 helicopters to meet its training needs. PZL-Swidnik also is assessing the market potential for a growth version of the SW-4. Rolls has agreed to work with it in that regard and investigate powering that version with the 650-shp. Model 250-C30 . . . Enstrom Helicopter Corp. has set a target of delivering new helicopters to customers within 60 days of their order, a tactic President Jerry Mullins said is netting sales with other companies quoting 12 months or more for delivery of new aircraft . . . FLIR Systems is offering users of imaging systems a 400-percent increase in resolution with its UltraFORCE 2 EP extended performance, multi-sensor system. The greater resolution is made possible by a next-generation 640X480 quantum-well infrared photodetector in the system’s four-axis stabilized gimbal . . . S-Lite and its associated company, Cejay Engineering, are offering several new cockpit and personal lighting products, including the Titan high-power, high-portability lights that can be set in a fixed position then articulated on a ball joint to illuminated at various intensities and at wavelengths ranging from ultraviolet to infrared . . . Brunei Shell Petroleum has ordered Sikorsky S-92s for offshore oil service, becoming the first oil company in Asia to select the S-92 for fleet operations . . . Skyquest Aviation is launching a new range of ultra-high-resolution aircraft mission displays to complement new-technology stabilized cameras entering the airborne surveillance market. The U.K. design and manufacturer of specialist airborne mission equipment also has designed a unique video distribution system to takes feeds from airborne camera systems in its highest resolution (including digital video and high definition video if available from the sensor) and route them via a single cable to any number of on-board video displays and video recorders . . . Eagle Helicopters, Inc. is offering a supplemental type certificate to upgrade Eurocopter AS350B2’s cockpit with SAGEM Avionics’ newly TSO’d ICDS-8 integrated cockpit displays. The system includes two 8.4-in. active matrix liquid crystal displays that together make-up a primary flight display and engine management system display to replace all the analog engine and system indicators in the AS350B2.
Macedonian Air Force Modernizes Helo Fleets
Elbit Systems of Israel has a $20-million contract from the Macedonian air force for the second stage of modernization of that service’s rotorcraft. The next stage covers modernization of six helicopters–one Mil Mi-17, three Mi-8MTs and two Mi-24V (one of which is shown above in a new and unique camouflage scheme, and which recently underwent overhaul in Ukraine). Four helicopters–two Mi-17 and two Mi-24–have already undergone modernization. At the end of 2006, Macedonia should have a completely modernized Mi-8MT/Mi-17 fleet, with half the Mi-24 fleet upgraded by then.–Igor Bozinovski
Pentagon Clears V-22 For Full-Rate Production
The Bell/Boeing V-22 successfully passed the Defense Acquisition Board on Sept. 29, clearing the way to enter full production for both the U.S. Marine Corps’ MV-22 and U.S. Air Force’s CV-22. The DAB was chaired by Kenneth Krieg, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. Krieg then issued an information paper that immediately authorizes the V-22 to go into full production. Normally production authorization is delayed pending an Acquisition Decision Memorandum that is usually issued within 45 days, providing a roadmap of the acquisition process. The authorization approves Milestone Three of the V-22 program. The DAB approval followed an earlier report, "Report on Operational and Live Fire Test and Evaluation," issued last month by David Duma, director, operational test and evaluation office, essentially stating that the operational testing "was adequate to determine the effectiveness, suitability, survivability and safety of the V-22."
Full rate production of the V-22 will be done under a multi-year procurement program, designed to have the USMC MV-22 at initial operating capability by Sept. 2007, followed by the USAF CV-22 by 2009. Both types will go down the same production line, then split off to receive specialized systems for their individual mission. Those aircraft designated for the Air Force will require additional operational evaluation of their specialized mission systems during 2006 and 2008, resulting in the additional delay prior to IOC.
A TOTAL OF 458 V-22 OSPREY AIRCRAFT ARE CURRENTLY PROJECTED FOR PRODUCTION, WITH 360 GOING TO THE MARINE CORPS, 50 FOR THE AIR FORCE AND 48 FOR THE U.S. NAVY. PRODUCTION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006 WILL REMAIN AT THE CURRENT LOW PRODUCTION RATE OF 11 PER YEAR. PROJECTED INCREASES WILL TAKE PRODUCTION TO 16 IN FY07, THE 24 IN FY08, EVENTUALLY REACHING 48 PER YEAR BY FY12. MILITARY
Bulgaria’s New Helicopter Defense Leader in NATO
Bulgaria has now become a leading country in NATO’s helicopter defense, according to Simeon Nikolov, Bulgaria’s deputy minister of defense. In a report in the Sofia News Agency, Nikolov reported that Bulgaria has developed a helicopter defense against hand-held anti-tank rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launchers. The defense system is one of nine military defense projects developed as part of NATO’s Counter-Terrorism Technologies Program and offered to NATO members for solutions. The RPG defense system was recently tested in the presence of Nikolov and NATO’s Admiral Mario Bartoli.
Colonel Nikolay Yankov, Bulgaria’s Chief of Armament and Technique Policy Directorate and the country’s procurement chief with NATO, said that RPGs are a serious problem, "Because they are easy to carry, could take down a helicopter flying low, and terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq have thousands of them." The recent downing of a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook in Afghanistan is believed to have been caused by an insurgent-fired RPG.
Bulgaria’s solution to this problem is a set of shield plates, created from a unique alloy, that are mounted on helicopters in order to protect them. During Tuesday’s test, the defense set proved successful in 80 percent of the cases, Yankov said. Bulgaria has an alloy that would hold up in 100 percent of the cases, but it is far too heavy to mount on a helicopter.
Regulators Observe `Successful Demo’ Of Obstacle-Warning System
Aviation regulators from the U.S., Canada and Norway observed the demonstration of a new obstacle-avoidance system that seems to have proven its worth as a safety tool, according to regulators and potential customers that participated. The Aug. 29 demonstration at a powerline river crossing in Milton, Ky. was conducted by the manufacturer of the Obstacle Collision Avoidance System and a U.S. utility, LGE Energy, that hopes to win U.S. FAA approval to install the system on its facilities ("Collision Avoidance, Norwegian Style," February 2004, page 54). LGE Energy operates utilities in the U.S. Ohio River valley.
"We’re beyond the testing," said Dave Comstock, who, as a right-of-way coordinator, rides on airborne patrols of LGE’s lines. "Now the question is, `What’s the next step?"
Mounted on powerline stanchions or cell-phone towers, OCAS generates low-power L-band radar signals of about one watt. When the radar detects aircraft on a collision course with the stanchion or tower, the system activates ground lights to illuminate the obstruction (using existing obstacle-avoidance lighting) and broadcasts a low-power aural warning on all aeronautical VHF frequencies.
Officials of the U.S. FAA, Transport Canada and the Norwegian civil aviation authority now must figure out how OCAS can be meshed with current obstacle-avoidance regulations, which generally require costly lighting systems installed on obstacles or advanced avionics on aircraft.
Tail-Rotor Cracking Limits Cormorants, Puzzles AgustaWestland
AgustaWestland officials are puzzled over the cause of EH101 tail-rotor cracking in Canada that has imposed operational and inspection constraints on the fleet.
Cracks in tail-rotor half hubs, which connect the blades to the driveshaft, were detected shortly after the EH101-variant CH-149 Cormorants entered service with Canada’s air force in July 2003. More frequent inspections were waived after tests by AgustaWestland. Then in March 2004, after a U.K. Royal Navy EH101 crash tied to unrelated tail-rotor problems, Canada’s Department of National Defense reassessed the Cormorant half hub’s structural integrity, which led to a change from a 200-hr. to 50-hr. inspection requirement on the part. In October 2004, severe cracking was found on one Cormorant’s half hubs just 5.4 rotor hours after the last daily check and 16.5 rotor hours after the last 50-rotor hour check. AgustaWestland developed a new half-hub design, which was installed starting last July.
On August 24, cracks were found in a different location on the new-design half hubs during a 50-hr. check. As a result, the air force imposed 25-hr. inspections on the parts. It also has limited Cormorant training flights to 2 hr. and imposed other operational constraints.
HAI Picks Old Hand as Resavage Successor
The Helicopter Assn. International has picked Matthew Zuccaro (pictured below), a former chairman of the group and a longtime industry executive and consultant, to succeed Roy Resavage this month as HAI president. Zuccaro is the president of Zuccaro Industries, LLC, which provides domestic and international aviation consultation services, specializing in helicopter-related issues.
In seeking a new president, Resavage said, the six-person search committee looked for somebody "who has a firm grasp of the helicopter industry, somebody who wouldn’t have to start from ground level and go through an extended learning curve. Matt has 35 years of industry experience in all facets of it."
Resavage added that "we also wanted someone who knew our organization, knew how we operated, knew what our ethos was and is important to us. Having been on the board of directors for six years and having been a past chairman, he’s very much attuned to what we are trying to accomplish and what our basic mission statements are."
Resavage said the search committee was also looking for someone "who is very comfortable talking to the public and can act as both a good diplomat and good spokesperson with government officials and community groups."
Zuccaro is a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot, having graduated from the Army Aviation School at Ft. Rucker, Ala. in 1969, class 69-13. He then served with the 7th Sqdn. of the 17th Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam. During his 35-year career in the helicopter industry, Zuccaro has held several executive-level and operations management positions with commercial, corporate, scheduled airline, and public-service helicopter operations in the Northeast United States. He served in operations management positions at Kennedy International Airport and public and private heliports during a tenure with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
HAI Vice Chairman Ed Newton, chief helicopter pilot for Honeywell and a member of the search committee, said Zuccaro "is intimately familiar with how the HAI operates. He also has run affiliate members’ meetings at every Heli-Expo, so he is familiar with HAI regular members and their affiliate members, both domestically and internationally."
Other members of the search committee included Resavage, Tim Wahlberg of Evergreen Helicopters, Michael Suldo of Air Logistics, Roy Simmons of Columbia Helicopters and Elizabeth Meade of the HAI.
Zuccaro is a past president and chairman of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council. For the past 10 years, he has served as a special advisor to that council’s board of directors.
He holds Airline Transport Pilot and Instrument Flight Instructor certificates for both airplanes and helicopters.
Boeing Helicopter was awarded a $14.1-million contract by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command as part of a firm-fixed-price contract for rotary-wing heads for the Chinook CH-47. Work is expected to be completed by Jan. 30, 2009. It also won a $53.4-million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for two CH-47F Helicopters. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, Pa., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2008.
Sikorsky Aircraft won a $64.7-million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract for production and delivery of six low-rate initial production MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters. Work will be performed in Stratford, Conn. (92 percent) and Troy, Ala. (8 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2006. The company also is being awarded a $10.8 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-priced contract for the development and installation of an Active Vibration Control System for the MH-60R LRIP 2 aircraft.
Robertson Aviation of Tempe, Ariz. was awarded a $5.4-million, firm-fixed-price contract for AH-64 A kits, combo-pak B kits, storage cradles, Apache magazine and auxiliary tank transfer systems, aviation intermediate maintenance spares, and aviation unit maintenance spares.
L-3 Communications’ Vertex Aerospace LLC of Madison, Miss. has received a $36.2- million, firm-fixed-price, cost-reimbursable, indefinite-delivery requirements contract to provide additional logistics support for about 121 TH-57B/TH-57C aircraft based at the NAS Whiting Field, Fla., and two TH-57C aircraft based at NAS Patuxent River, Md.
Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems of El Segundo, Calif. won a $38.8-million, firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for procurement of 83 CH-53E night-vision system B kits, which consist of a turreted FLIR unit and system electronics units.
ArmorWorks of Tempe, Ariz., won a $5.5-million, firm-fixed-price contract for procurement of 164 Light Weight Armor Replacement System (LWARS) kits and six interim spares for CH-46Es, including field support services.
The Purdy Corp. of Manchester, Conn., received a delivery order of $9.7 million as part of a $17.1-million, firm-fixed-price contract for spare parts for the Apache helicopter.
BAE Systems Communications, Navigation, Identification & Reconnaissance of Wayne, N.J., was awarded a $9.7-million, firm-fixed price contract for acquisition of 223 computer displays for the use in the Doppler Global Positioning System Navigation Systems of Black Hawks and Chinooks.
Agusta Aerospace has appointed Shawn Coyle as chief of flight operations at its Philadelphia facility. Coyle as served as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and National Test Pilot School, and for five years was a certification test pilot with Transport Canada. He has more than 25 years experience in helicopter flight testing.
EADS North America has named Tom Harrison, a retired U.S. Army colonel, as vice president and program manager for its UH-145 entrant in the U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter competition based on Eurocopter’s EC145. In the Army, Harrison served as project manager for utility helicopters. EADS International, the corporate marketing organization of EADS has named Christian Duhain to lead it. Duhain succeeds Jean-Paul Gut, who was appointed COO for marketing, international and strategy.
HP Holding, Inc. has acquired and joined the forces of two well-established helicopter support companies under one management. It has bought controlling interest in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Cav-Air Maintenance Center and Mt. Pleasant, Pa.-based Helicopter Aviation Services Corp., renaming the latter Cav-Air Completion Center. Dieter Dust is chairman and CEO of both companies. Ed Pears is president of Cav-Air Completion Center and Guillermo Carabajal is president of Cav-Air Maintenance Center.
SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems Ltd. has created a North American subsidiary, SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems (US) Inc., naming R. Scott Rettig as president and CEO. Rettig will be based at the company’s corporate headquarters in Arlington, Va. Rettig had served most recently as a senior vice president, business development, BAE Systems North America.
Columbia Helicopters has named Jerry Artache as its new business development manager, serving as the lead sales and marketing representative for all of the Portland, Ore.-based heavy-lift operator’s maintenance services. Artache previously served in manager and director positions at Honeywell and the U.S. Air Force.
Nov. 7-9–2nd Int’l Basic Research Conference on Rotorcraft Technology, Nanjing, China. Contact: Prof. Gao Zheng, 86-25-84892120; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Prof. Daniel Schrage, (404) 894-6257; E-mail: Daniel.Schrage@aerospace.gatech.edu.
(Please note that this is a change from the previously scheduled NBAA Annual Meeting to be held in New Orleans, La. on Nov. 15-17)
Nov. 15-17–Heli Power 2005, Sheraton Roma Hotel & Convention Center, Rome, Italy. Contact: Herve Bavazzano (exhibitions), 44-1628-606980; E-mail: email@example.com, or Sam Cader (delegates), 44-1628-606979; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.shephard.co.uk/heli-power.
Jan. 18-29–AHS Vertical Lift Aircraft Design Conference, Holiday Inn, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, Calif. Contact: John Davis, (650) 604-5375; E-mail: email@example.com.
Feb. 26-28–HAI Heli-Expo 2006, Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, Texas. Wyndham Anatole Hotel. 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.
April 25-27–11th Annual MRO Conference, Phoenix Civic Plaza, Phoenix, Ariz. Contact: Beth Eddy, (800) 240-7645 or 561-862-0005, Fax: 561-862-0006; E-mail: email@example.com; Website: www.aviationnow.com/conferences.