The R&WI team has showed our readers what we think are the highlights of 2017. But what is more important to us is what our readers were interested in over the course of the year. The following were our most-read topics during 2017, based on our online metrics.
Bell Helicopter's V-280 takes its first flight in Amarillo, Texas. Photo courtesy of Bell Helicopter.
Future Vertical Lift
The U.S. Army-led Future Vertical Lift (FVL) is a hot topic. It promises new technology, new aircraft, and expanded capability and operations. There were three R&WI articles in particular that got thousands of clicks in 2017: an article from the April print issue of R&WI, one with a video of the Bell Helicopter V-280 making its first low-power ground run and one with a video of the V-280 airborne for the first time.
U.S. Soldiers with, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI), prepare to take off in a Sikorsky UH-60L. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army
Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Force Hawk
In another military program, the U.S. Air Force is looking to replace its Bell UH-1Ns. In October, Sierra Nevada Corp. told R&WI why its modified Sikorsky UH-60L, called “Force Hawk,” could be a good fit. It is competing against the MH-139, bid by a Boeing/Leonardo team.
Public domain photo by Julian Herzog
Cal Fire Picks S-70is; decision promptly protested
California's Deptartment of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) is looking to replace its fleet of Bell UH-1Hs. In August, following a competitive tender, Cal Fire chose a team, led by Air Methods’ United Rotorcraft, to deliver 12 customized Sikorsky S-70is. We know now that the deal became official Dec. 11. But it only took that long because Leonardo, which had also bid an aircraft, protested the decision.
Crashes and investigations
There were five articles about crashes that received some of the most reader attention on our website. In March, R&WI got the inside scoop on the NTSB’s Bell 525 final report (which, at this time, has not yet been released).
Later that month, an Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky S-92, operated by CHC, crashed off the coast while on a mission. Two weeks later, the NTSB did release a final report — this one concerning the 2015 crash of an Airbus Helicopters AS350 operated by Air Methods.
In August, near the protests-turned-violent in Charlottesville, Virginia, a Virginia State Police Bell 407 crashed. Two troopers were killed.
Then in November, an Air Methods Bell 407 crashed, killing three. The accident ended with a post-impact fire.
Typical vortex generator configuration
Flying Through the Vortex
This article by Tim Tucker has become somewhat of an inside joke on the R&WI team. Even though it was published Sept. 1, 2015, “Flying Through the Vortex” is continually one of our most-read articles on the R&WI website. We have published other articles on the topic since: a May 2016 article and a November 2017 article, both by Frank Lombardi, to name a couple. But here is Tim Tucker’s on the list again, in 2017.