By S.L. Fuller | December 7, 2017
Robertson Fuel Systems and StandardAero have received FAA certification for their retrofittable crash-resistant fuel tank for the Airbus AS350 and EC130 family of light single helicopters, Robertson said. Air Methods Corp. and Weather Tech Aviation LLC are launch partners for the tank, and deliveries are underway.
“We are very pleased to have now achieved certification, which we know will ultimately bring increased operational safety to the industry,” said Newman Shufflebarger, Robertson Fuel Systems’ president. “Vector Aerospace, now a part of the StandardAero family, has been a great partner and we are proud to achieve this milestone together.”
Robertson said it developed the tank with StandardAero to be a direct replacement for all AS350 models, including the AS350 C, AS350 D/D1, AS350 B/B1/B2/BA/B3 and AS350 B3e (H125), as well as for the EC130 B4. The tank features a crash-resistant fuel bladder, with the same capacity as the legacy fuel cell. Robertson said it uses magnetic field sensor fuel gauging technology and vent system rollover protection, among other technologies. The tank is compliant with the latest FAR Part 27.952 fuel system crash resistance requirements, including when used in combination with a cargo swing.
Robertson said that it expects EASA certification will follow in the near future. The company is currently taking orders for its tank from operators around the world.
In October, the FAA released a notice, listing 17 helicopter variants fully compliant with the latest standards for crash-resistant fuel systems. The agency posted a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SW-17-31) Oct. 13 alerting owners and operators to the list of helicopters “that are fully compliant with the crash-resistant fuel system (CRFS) safety standards” of Federal Aviation Regulations Part 27.952 or 29.952. Those parts became effective Nov. 2, 1994, but only applied to newly type-certificated rotorcraft. There was no requirement to incorporate them retroactively into helicopters type certificated before that date.
An Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee working group on improving occupant protection in rotorcraft currently is charged with recommending by January 2018 how to best implement those higher standards on newly manufactured rotorcraft and the existing fleet of rotorcraft, not just those type certificated after Nov. 2, 1994.