|Sloane Helicopters is displaying its Robinson R66 sales demonstrator during Helitech, along with an Agustawestland AW 109 Grand New, at Stand 1513, Chalet 2 adn teh static display. Sloane Helicopters|
Britain’s biannual celebration of all things rotary wing swings into action at the famous Duxford aerodrome on Tuesday. Helitech celebrates its 25th anniversary in difficult times. However back in 1986, in Aberdeen, you may recall the helicopter industry’s extreme sensitivity to economic ebb and flow. It is a testament to its maturity—and particularly to the improved understanding of the rotorcraft’s myriad capabilities—that as a community we can face the current turmoil with a great deal more confidence. The fact that some 40 companies are exhibiting for the first time is testament to that spirit. Here are some highlights to look out for over the three-day event.
Germany’s ADAC is promoting a full-crew HEMS mission simulator based on the Eurocopter EC135 and EC145. The device, offering front-seat crews a 210-degree horizontal and 60-degree vertical field of view, provides realistic flight system representation via highly flexible and rapidly moving scenarios. While in a rear cabin, rear-seat crewmembers can practice their skills and hone crew co-operation techniques before setting off in the real helicopter. All training programs and sessions are in compliance with JAR OPS3 and JAR FCL2.
This aerospace consortium from the Lorraine region of northeast France is bringing a prototype kit, developed by Heli Air Design, to meet new EASA/FAR 27 safety criteria. Powered by a 160-shp Solar T62 engine, the Helineo Mk1 has a maximum takeoff weight of 1,543 lbs, including a 728-lb payload. First flight is expected soon and the company plans to achieve final certification by 2013.
Group member AEM has opened a new purpose-built facility at nearby Stansted Airport for aircraft fire extinguisher repair and overhaul. Capabilities include all APU, engine fire and portable fire extinguishers carried aboard aircraft.
The Stansted Airport-based luxury operator has seen increased demand for all the types on its AOC; the Sikorsky S-76, S-92 and AgustaWestland AW109. Sales & Marketing Director Will Holroyd is particularly pleased with the success of the S-92. “With space to seat sixteen comfortably, making it the largest VIP helicopter available for charter in the UK, actual hours flown have increased by over 50 percent.” In other news, Eurocopter’s EC155 has been added to Air Harrods’ Part 145 maintenance approval, joining the S-76 and the AgustaWestland AW109E/S.
In descending order of brand numbers, AgustaWestland is bringing a mock-up of the latest AW189, plus a real AW169 and AW139. A W-3 Sokol—will it also be re-designated?—in firefighting garb from recent AW acquisition PZL Swidnik will complete the set. AgustaWestland is investing 300 million Zloty ($96 million) to modernize its new Polish facility.
Apple’s Airwolf TT Straps have an FAA STC and now full EASA approval. The precision straps are said to be “far superior” to those produced by Bell Helicopter, which are based on a 45-year-old design. A set also costs around $7,500, as opposed to over $9,000 for the factory product.
Avidyne Corp. has a new plug-and-play, panel-mounted FMS/GPS/nav/com that provides touch-screen user interface and highly-capable FMS. The IFD540 provides the same nav/comm and MFD capabilities as found in their Entegra Release 9 systems but in a touch-screen, panel-mounted avionics format.
Australian software company Avinet is building a customer base for its Air Maestro online safety application. Launched six years ago, Air Maestro, which is based in the cloud, helps operators to effectively run a safety management system (SMS). CEO Mike Mulvihill explains, “Cloud offers secure Internet-based computing where resources, software and information are shared and provided to computers and other devices on demand, an everyday utility. It is a hot trend in the IT world offering big benefits to businesses.” Adelaide-based Avinet developed Air Maestro six years ago for a customer who wanted a reliable and cost-effective SMS. Now Mulvihill claims more than 5,000 users based around the world. “On average, someone logs on every 22 seconds. Being based in the cloud means operators can reduce costs, improve reliability, increase mobility and eliminate messy paper trails.”
Dutch manufacturer Bayards can make you an aluminum helipad, either to order or in kit form. The helipads can be installed on almost any building or offshore construction. The assembly kits are completely bolted, eliminating the need for on-site drilling, welding or cutting, special tools or heavy cranes. Bayards can also equip its helipads with firefighting (with DIFFS), lighting, heat tracing and refueling systems.
Blue Sky Network has developed some cool new tracking devices for the helicopter community, including the HawkEye 5 series, utilizing both GSM and Iridium satellites, and the HawkEye PT, a handheld personal satellite tracking and messaging device. It has also revamped its SkyRouter 2 tracking portal to offer improved map rendering, management and reporting tools, and will have it up and running at the booth.
Concorde has released a new Parasitic Load Tester Adaptor (PLTA) that measures the parasitic load/drain on aircraft batteries when the master switch is off and the aircraft is inactive. The adaptor is designed to mate with a MS3509 style quick disconnect receptacle. This innovative PLTA was conceived in response to aviation community concerns about the effect of parasitic impact on battery capacity, state of charge, airworthiness and battery life.
Cotsworld Helicopter Centre (Stand 905, static display) is introducing a new helicopter known as the Guimbal Cabri G2. A newcomer, the neat G2 two-seater was designed by Bruno Guimbal, a former senior engineer at Eurocopter. The Cabri meets EASA CS-27 and FAR-27 regulations, requiring smaller rotorcraft (up to 3,175 kg) to absorb an accident impact without causing significant injury to occupants. The high-inertia, three-blade head is said to make autorotations “easy to perform and demonstrate,” Flight instructor Philippe Colonge says, adding that it is “a remarkably accomplished helicopter.”
DART Aerospace is showing its certified Vertical Reference Door kit for older Bell 204, 205, 210, 212, 214 & 412 aircraft. DART’s Vertical Reference Door improves visibility and allows the pilot to maneuver with precision when conducting vertical reference work such as long-line or firefighting. The kit comes complete with sheet metal door components, bubble window, wiring harness and a latching mechanism.
Saab has chosen the OTUS-U135 camera turret as an option on its medium range Skeldar helicopter UAV. With a rotor diameter of 4.7 meters, a maximum take-off weight of 200 kg and a maximum endurance (with the gimbal fitted) of up to 7.5 hours, it is fully autonomous, controlled by high-level-commands such as “Point and Fly” and “Point and Look,” and designed for a range of land, maritime and civil applications.
ECS supplies France’s Gendarmerie with CODFM (coded orthogonal frequency division multiplexing) downlink equipment. It has most recently sold the police service its latest Handyview portable COFDM receiver: a fully integrated unit that provides instantaneous monitoring of COFDM modulated signals. The downlink equipment is fitted to the Gendarmerie’s fleet of Eurocopter EC135s.
Eurocopter (Stand 906, static display)
As well as a bevy of beauties on the static park, Eurocopter will have the new EC145T2 at its booth. Unveiled earlier this year during Heli-Expo, the T2 features new Turbomeca Arriel 2E engines, advanced cockpit design with the latest avionics, a four-axis autopilot and a Fenestron tail rotor. First deliveries are expected in 2013. Its UK subsidiary (Chalet 5) is undergoing some organizational changes—expect an announcement at the show.
Eurocopter is also hosting the European Helicopter Safety Team (EHEST), which has identified common themes from analyzing more than 300 European accidents that took place between 2000 and 2005. The team’s report is available on the EASA website.
JR Technology will showcase the latest additions to its range of composite test and repair products. The XY Plotter is an NDT automatic tap tester, used for detecting flaws in composite and bonded structures. And a lightweight M50-P moisture meter is designed to conform to the IP67 requirement, can be adjusted to compensate for different material densities and will measure depths up to 40 mm.
Swiss optics company Revue Thommen is launching its HSL-800 searchlight during Helitech. Designed for weight and power restricted applications such as single engine operations in the U.S. law enforcement sector, the HSL-800’s core is based on the existing HSL-1600 and users will discover familiar performance characteristics. Says company spokesman Walter Fischbach, “like its 1600 cousin, HSL-800 components are integrated within the searchlight itself, simplifying installation and operation and dramatically reducing all-up weight for such payload-critical aircraft.”
Revue Thommen is also about to deliver its first production HSL-1600. Fischbach says that the larger searchlight, “has undergone extensive testing and practical flight trials (by) European OEMs and law enforcement operators—and passed with flying colors.”
Scandinavian Avionics is set to provide complete TETRA radio terminal upgrades to the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Police, to be fitted on a significant number of helicopters of seven different types. Program manager Michael Truelsen says the company is “looking forward to starting the upgrade process and contributing to making the Norwegian fire brigades, police and health agencies even more effective in the future.” Scandinavian Avionics will provide TETRA radio terminals and associated equipment from Cobham Antenna Systems. In addition, Scandinavian Avionics will provide installation and integration of the equipment as well as EASA certification, testing and technical support of the system.
Sikorsky is bringing an S-76C++, by way of introduction to its next model, the S-76D. The “D” will have all-composite, flaw-tolerant main rotor blades; an advanced Thales avionics system and integrated autopilot; a quiet rotor system; active vibration control; Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S engines and, for all-weather operations, an optional rotor ice protection system (RIPS).
Civil applications such as executive transport, offshore energy and EMS are in the corporation’s sights. First deliveries are expected in 2013. Form an orderly queue at the static park.
With certification due in the next few weeks, the turbine-powered Robinson R66 has already stirred a lot of interest in the UK. Sloane Helicopters is showing off its sales demonstrator, together with the sleek AW109 Grand New.
Using technology originally developed for high-end motorsports, Stack will demonstrate new ranges of digital video and multi-function event recorders, as well as an innovative new passive tire pressure and temperature monitor. Stack’s battery-less TPMS uses Surface Acoustic Wave technology and can operate at very high temperatures—more than 150 degrees C—without affecting sensor life.
The TLC Helilift helicopter ground handling unit offers single-person operation with full control and built in safety features. It reduces manpower and operating costs, and improves response times, according to TLC. Its universal fitting suits all makes and models of skid-mounted helicopters. It also features a powerful 28v battery with built-in APU.
Exhibiting with its UK subsidiary and Sagem, the French engine OEM will showcase the new power-saving Ardiden 3 gas turbine, which is aimed at the 6 to 8-ton weight range. It has been selected for the AC352 (Chinese EC175) and Russian Helicopters Kamov Ka-62. Turbomeca UK will announce new helicopter engine support services at its Fareham, Hampshire base.
Some 200 companies are exhibiting at Helitech this year, about the same number as in 2009. Organizers Reed also anticipate similar visitor numbers to 2009, when some 4,000 from 60 countries attended.