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Crashes, FVL and More Top R&WI’s 5 Most-Read Topics of 2017

By S.L. Fuller | December 28, 2017

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.

Bell Helicopter's V-280 takes its first flight in Amarillo, Texas. Photo courtesy of Bell Helicopter.

Future Vertical Lift

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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.

ANSBACH, Germany—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 UH-60L helicopter, March 27, 2017, at the Oberdachstetten Range Complex. These Soldiers just completed small arms live-fire qualification training in preparation for forward deployment in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The Oberdachstetten Range Complex is just one of more than a dozen firing range complexes operated by the Training Support Activity Europe to provide U.S. Army Europe Soldiers with the ability to perform rigorous, realistic and relevant home-station training that enhances their combat readiness. (U.S. Army photos by Mr. Luis Viegas, Training Support Center Ansbach)

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.

1024px-Sikorsky_S-70i_Black_Hawk_SP-YVC_ILA_2012_09

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.

Helicopter pilot checking the flight manual before a take off. Helicopter is on the ground with bright sunlight.

File photo

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

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.

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