Unprecedented Helicopter Force Takes Field in Katrina's Wake
Hurricane Katrina destroyed, and helicopters by the score swept in behind her to save and bring succor.
In the wake of that devastating Aug. 29 maelstrom and the flooding that followed it, helicopter owners and operators of every size and stripe flew to the grief-stricken regions of Louisiana and Mississippi to help in any way they could.
Nearly to a person, they did so out of good will. Only a few reported flying under contract or in pursuit of one as the hours dragged into days of misery and suffering for the people of New Orleans and Chalmette, La., of Biloxi, Gulfport and Waveland, Miss. and hundreds of other towns and hamlets near them.
For tens of thousands of the storm's victims, the first signs of rescue and relief--of hope--came in the form of the whopping, whirring rotor blades of a helicopter overhead.
"This is, by far, the most helicopter-intensive event in America other than the Vietnam War," observed Coyt Bailey, owner of Jackson, Miss.-based Mercury Aviation, who spent days flying medicines and supplies to victims stranded along the Gulf Coast.
The many helicopter heroes of the disaster relief effort are very likely are too numerous to name. But perhaps foremost among them are those leaders of the U.S. Coast Guard who decided to act before the storm hit--thus setting themselves far apart from most other federal, state and local officials in the storm's path. The Coast Guard was playing for keeps. Two to three days before Katrina made landfall, that service began moving every available rotary-wing asset on the Eastern Seaboard to staging positions in Florida. Extra crews were flown down, too, as were spare parts. It was not by chance that most of the helicopters you saw in TV shots of rooftop rescues were orange and white. Is it any wonder a Coast Guard flag officer was out in charge after FEMA stumbled so badly?
One thing that television did not capture, as horrid as its images were, is just how bad things were on the ground. Without exception, persons reached in the week or so after the storm said everything was far, far worse than media accounts portrayed. The destruction was far more severe and widespread. The suffering of victims on rooftops, in hospitals and at shelters and field clinics was far more extreme. The confusion and ill-preparedness of emergency-response managers was far more complete. The behavior of some was far more bestial than any sane person would care to see on TV. Firing on rescue helicopters was the least of it.
Many individuals pitched in. Pilots had nothing but praise for the FAA personnel manning FEMA's Recovery Desk (the one to call for clearance into the temporary flight restriction areas) and the air traffic controllers at Louis Armstrong International Airport. Crews made fuel and spares and anything else needed available for fellow crews.
The obstacles were formidable, and accentuated by the confusion among the "leadership." For example, Tulane University Hospital and nearby Charity Hospital were to be evacuated by air; neither has a helipad. One familiar with the situation said helos landed on a rooftop parking deck at Tulane--but only after light stanchions on the deck were cut down.
Perhaps most distressing were the cases when assets--aircraft, crews and skilled, experienced emergency personnel--were ready to join the effort, only to be stood down, turned down, even threatened with sanctions if they launched. This while New Orleans doctors told CNN patients were dying before their eyes.
The hope now is that good will come of that mess, that officials in Washington, statehouses and municipalities will recognize both the unique value of rotorcraft in relief operations and the need to have plans in place well in advance to utilize them. The test will be whether this is a cause that captures Washington's attention. If not, hundreds will be forced to say, "We told you so.".
Military Brings Order to Relief Chaos
When the U.S. government finally settled on sending in the troops to help with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, the troops came in force and things on the ground and in the air changed.
U.S Northern Command actually set up Joint Task Force Katrina, headed by Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, commander of the 1st Army, a day before Katrina struck. Honore established headquarters for the task force at Camp Shelby, Miss. three days later. Civilian pilots flying voluntary relief missions in the region reported a noticeable difference between the operations over Mississippi and those over New Orleans. You know whose in charge around Biloxi," one pilot said. "The military is, clearly."
Military assets flooded into the region. The Navy dispatched the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan from Texas. It soon was followed by the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima and a flotilla of other vessels, including the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman, which in short order had 13 helicopter squadrons operating from its fleet deck.
Helicopter units came from as far away as NAS North Island, Calif. and CGAS Cape Cod, Mass. The U.S. Air Force Space Command, for the first time in its history, dispatched UH-1 used to ensure the security of intercontinental ballistic missile fields away from those fields to aid in the relief.
Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawks flew in from rescue wings and groups in Georgia and Arizona. The 16th Special Operations Sqdn. sent air traffic controllers to assist in managing the skies around New Orleans. The Army sent 48 helicopters from Fort Hood, Texas, and U.S. Marine Corps CH-53Es and CH-46E were on the job, too. Within a week, thousands of National Guard, Reserve and active-duty troops were aiding relief efforts.
Singapore's air force even launched four Chinook helicopter teams to the U.S. Gulf Coast to aid in recovery efforts.
Humanity Shines Amid Madness
After he'd checked that his Jackson, Miss. Mercury Aviation had survived Katrina, Coyt Bailey grabbed a cameraman and set off Aug. 30 in the R44 WLBT-TV charters from him to survey the storm damage. He'd covered six or eight hurricanes. The cameraman had covered more, including Hurricane Camille in 1969--the Big Storm before Katrina. "We'd never seen anything like this, either of us," Bailey said.
Returning that night, Bailey got a strange message.
Some woman in Dallas had called and said her father, an official in St. Bernard Parish southeast of New Orleans, and hundreds of residents were holed up in a shuttered local refinery. No one knew they were there. "Could you check on them?" After being told the area was secure--the sheriff was there--Bailey and a couple of pilot friends flew down. They found hundreds of people surrounded by floodwaters and running low on food and medicine.
The pilots spent the next three days finagling medicine and supplies and shuttling them down to the stranded. "They never asked to be rescued," he said, "just to be helped and supplied." One of many such stories, no doubt.
Relief Problems Highlight Need for Helo Plan
In recounting the devastation of wreaked on the U.S. Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina, one radio correspondent observed that people don't give a second thought to the sound of a helicopter passing overhead until after a disaster like this. Sadly, that's as true for emergency-management leaders as it is for the general public.
Each year, natural and man-made large-scale disasters in the U.S. and around the world silence regular and emergency communications, destroy road and highway networks and shut airfields and maritime ports--the very things on which emergency-response and disaster-management plans are built. In such circumstances, helicopters are essential tools--often the only ones available--for grasping the scope of a disaster, spotting the most distressed victims, conveying that information to response managers and bringing victims rescue or relief.
But helicopters too often are an impromptu and overwhelmed part of emergency-response plans. We've seen U.S. government choppers in action in Katrina's wake. But there were too few of them right from the start to effectively triage the problem so limited response resources could be put to the best use.
Two things are needed after this and any similar disaster: more helicopters and a plan for using them. The sad thing is that plenty of helicopters are available, but emergency responders don't know that and therefore don't use them. The Gulf Coast, for instance, probably has more private and commercial helicopters than any place else in the U.S. except the North East. They're essential to ferrying crews to and from Gulf of Mexico oil and gas rigs.
For four years, helicopter trade groups have tried to work with the Department of Homeland Security to develop tools for emergency managers to identify what private helicopters are available, where they are and what they can do (perform rescues, transport medical patients or just carry passengers and supplies) and then put them to use. The department's plans still don't include such tools. t was days after the levees broke in New Orleans before FEMA even attempted a coordinated effort to use the private helicopters at its disposal.
Early Rescue Marks Start of Katrina Efforts
The rescue crews at CGAS Clearwater, Fla. got an early start on Katrina rescues.
As the hurricane churned through the Gulf of Mexico, it threatened to swamp the fishing boat Mary Lynn 25 miles west of the dry tortugas. The crew of three sounded a distress call. The coast guard picked up the signal about 8 p.m. Aug. 26 and Lt. Cdr. Craig Massello and his crew launched in their HH-60J Jayhawk by 9 p.m. They first steered east of Katrina, but after the Mary Lynn crew reported they 'd gone for a lifeboat, which capsized, Massello headed straight for them--and into the hurricane. By 1:30 a.m., the crew could make out the blur of the boat with their night-vision goggles, but they needed fuel. Massello headed for NAS Key West, returning about 5:30 a.m. Intense winds kept blowing the aircraft away from the boat. Massello knew he needed to hover nearby until daylight. By 7:30 they were back over the boat--which was now in 45-ft. seas. The flight mechanic, Petty Officer Rob Cain, lowered rescue swimmer Kenyon Bolton, who saved all three.
Private Helo Operators Pitch In While Gov't Officials Fiddle
While government officials dithered about how to response to the ravages of Katrina, private and commerical helicopter operators wasted no time.
Industry members large and small, from Robinson owners in California to pro golfer Greg Norman (who owns a Bell 407 in Florida), made themselves or their aircraft available.
Bell Helicopter, Eurocopter, Robinson and Sikorsky all made crews or aircraft available to anyone who needed them. Air Evac Lifeteam, Evergreen Helicopters and Air Logistics did the same.
Vortex Helicopters owner Joe Shearin flew relief missions for days, despite the fact that his company in Long Beach, Miss. was severely damaged..
U.S. Army Extends LUH Deadline As Eurocopter Joins Race
The U.S. Army has given bidders in its Light Utility Helicopter competition another month to submit their bids, extending the deadline for submitting entries to Oct. 12. The extension was made after the Aviation and Missile Command, "received multiple requests by interested Offerors to extend the proposal submission date."
American Eurocopter is the latest OEM to announce an entry in the contest, submitting the UH-145, a militarized version of its EC145. EADS North America, parent company to American Eurocopter, will lead the program and serve as prime contractor for the UH-145 team. Ralph Crosby, Jr., chairman and CEO of EADS North America, said that the U.S.-built UH-145 meets or exceeds all speed, range, endurance and performance requirements for the LUH program and "will offer the Army a modern platform that combines advanced rotary-wing technology and proven commercial capability, and which outperforms other existing or remanufactured solutions."
Bell has now stated that with the new RFP requirement for an IFR certified aircraft, the 210 originally submitted may not be its best entry. The company is considering which model it will propose for the LUH competition.
AgustaWestland has stated that will enter the competition with some version of its A109 series, with an announcement expected to be made at the AUSA meeting in Washington, D.C. early this month.
Lockheed Martin and MD Helicopter have formed a joint program using the MD902 Explorer. MD Helicopter will provide the MD902 airframe to Lockheed Martin, which will provide systems integration and turn-key military systems. This aircraft uses the NOTAR no-tail rotor anti-torque system.
|LUH Competitors (as of September 15)
||A109 LUH *
||2 Turbomeca Arriel 1E2
||2-P&W 207CArrius 2K2
|Max. T/O shp.
|Useful Load (lb.)
|Max. Speed (kt.)
|Economic Cruise (kt.)
|Max. Range (nm.)
|* AgustaWestland had not specified which series A109 it would submit for the U.S. Army LUH as of early September. These figures are for the international AgustaWestland light utility helicopter. Source: Aircraft manufacturers
CSAR-X RFP, Flight Eval. Expected Soon
The U.S. Air Force was expected to release the final RFP on its Combat Search and Rescue aircraft (CSAR-X) competition last month, and may have done so at this time. This could mean that the flight evaluations required under Attachment 14 of the draft RFP could be initiated as early as this month or November. The USAF said that a series of flight evaluations "that highlight the mission profiles will start as soon as possible after the proposal submission date." Flights will be conducted in the Nellis AFB local flying area near Las Vegas, Nev. The flight evaluation will consist of five basic tasks: mission profile flight capabilities, hovering operations, tactical profile/terminal area operations, deployability/maintenance and cabin configuration.
The evaluations will done by a team comprised of the Air Force Material Command, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, and Air Force Special Operations Command personnel from the HH-60 Combined Test Force stationed at Nellis AFB. The CSAR-X will ultimately replace the Air Force's HH060G fleet. Initial Operational Capability of the selected aircraft is scheduled to be no later than fiscal year 2011, and consist of a total of 10 production aircraft, five of which will be delivered to the training site and five to the operational site.
In releasing its draft RFP, the Air Force said that it estimates a research development Test & Evaluation budget of $633 million through FY11, and a production funding of $1.214 billion between FY08 and FY11.
Turkey Launches Major Helicopter Competition.
Turkey's Under Secretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) has formally opened an international competition for the purchase of 32 military helicopters and 20 fire-fighting helicopters to be used by the Forestry General Directorate. Total value for the 52 helicopters will be around $700 million.
The purchase will be administered by SSM in a single package for both the military and civilian helicopters. Bidders are asked to reply to a request for proposal no later than Dec.5. The lion's share of the military shopping bag will go to the Army with 20 helicopters, while the Air Force and the Navy will receive six platforms each.
An SSM official said he expected several manufacturers to show up for the competition, in which one single helicopter type will be selected for all three services. "The Army, the Air Force and the Navy will not be able to choose different platforms. The winner will take all."
Analysts said the two major contenders are expected to be Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., maker of the S-70 Black Hawk, and NH Industries, which manufactures the NH90. NH Industries is the prime contractor for design, development, industrialization, production and logistical support for the NH90 in all its variations.
CHC Selling Off Non-Core Assets
Vancouver-based CHC Helicopter Corp. has sold off its remaining shares in two non-core companies, including Canadian Helicopters Ltd. Both companies, Canadian Helicopters and Inaer, a company that operates light to medium helicopters primarily in the Spanish helicopter market, provide on-shore oil and gas helicopter operations. CHC, whose initials do not stand for Canadian Helicopter Corp., was a minority shareholder in both companies and stated that selling off its assets in the two companies will allow it to concentrate more on its core efforts in off-shore operations..
CHC had already sold 55 percent of its holdings with CHL in 2000, retaining offshore oil and gas operations in eastern Canada. Sale of the remaining 45 percent was announced Sept. 1 and is expected to bring CHC approximately C$48 million (US$40.4 million). This would give CHC a combined pre-tax gain and dividend income of approximately C$20 million (US$16.8 million). The company said that its shares are being purchased by the Canadian Helicopters Income Fund, a fund established to purchase CHL indirectly.
In late July, CHC signed a letter of intent with Inaer to sell its 37.8 percent shareholdings in that company. CHC expects to realize an estimated C$45 million (US$37.9 million) from the sale.
India Finalizes Plans For 197-Helo Buy
In a major drive to modernise all arms---infantry, armor, artillery and mechanized units--the Indian army has finalized plans to expand its aviation wing with acquisition of 197 light helicopters, as well as equipping itself with light helicopter gunships for use in high-altitude areas.
Top officials said the army was awaiting the nod from the government for rapid expansion of its air fleet after making a strong case for having its own medium lift transport helicopters, assault choppers, anti-tank combat helicopters and, for the first time, a limited number of light fixed-wing aircraft.
Army officials have pressed for expansion of its air arm, citing lack of close air support in counter-insurgency operations, in high-altitude areas and during Kargil operations. The contract for 197 light helicopters to replace its ageing fleet of Cheetahs and Chetaks is nearing the final stages with two major bidders, Eurocopter and Bell, completing their second and final round of summer trials in Jammu, Kashmir and Rajasthan.
The Army Aviation Corps proposes to buy 55 helicopters outright, with the remaining to be built under licence at Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics in a deal estimated to be worth more than US$500 million.
Russia Plans New Helo Manufacturing Holding Company
Russia is developing a new helicopter manufacturing holding company comprised of companies currently involved in the development and production of Mi-helicopters. The creation of the Oboronprom helicopter-manufacturing holding company is planned "to contribute to the development of Russia's defense potential," as well as "help to conduct structural reforms of the strategic branches of Russia's economy," according to Denis Manturov, Oboronprom general director.
Tatarstan's government has agreed to contribute 29.92 percent in Kazan Helicopter Works to the stock capital of Oboronprom, viewed as the basis for setting up a holding of Mi-helicopters. Kazan Helicopter Works is one of the largest makers of Mi-brand medium helicopters with loading capacity of up to 17 tons.
According to Moscow's helicopter-manufacturing plant General Director Andrei Shibitov, there are objective trends on the global market today that forced European and American helicopter manufacturers to merge into larger corporations. These trends have affected Russia as well, he said. "The creation of a new holding is an attempt to consolidate and integrate our efforts to produce helicopters of the Mi family. It is aimed at increasing the competitiveness of our companies on the global market and reducing production costs on the domestic market."
Heli Air Opts for Second Koala
Heliflite Pty Ltd, authorised distributor of Agusta Westland civil helicopters for Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea, has sold a second new Agusta A119 Koala helicopter to Heli Air Pty Ltd. Heli Air Pty Ltd is one of Australia's leading helicopter charter companies with significant interests in media related helicopter services, corporate and government charter, training and fire fighting. Heli Air has substantial hangar and maintenance facilities at several key locations throughout southeast Australia. Heli Air has acquired its second A119 KOALA to meet a Government fire-fighting contract for the 2005-2006 fire season.
Eurocopter Flies BK117 With Electric Flap Controls
On September 8, 2005, an experimental BK-117 helicopter lifted off from Eurocopter's Donauworth, Germany facility in Bavaria for its official maiden flight with an electrical flap control system. This milestone in the development of a trendsetting helicopter control technology positions the company ahead of the international technology competition concerning the area of so-called "adaptive rotor systems," surpassing its key competitors in Japan and the United States, Eurocopter said.
The primary objective of this new type of control method is to reduce the system-inherent, relatively high noise level of the rotor blade tip vortices to levels significantly below those of current helicopter models, many with noise levels already below the required standards.
At the same time, the vibrations that components and passengers alike are subjected to will be reduced significantly to increase the comfort of passengers during the flight and expand the capacity of future helicopters, thereby promoting commercial use of these aircraft.
The development program concerning adaptive rotor systems is sponsored by the German Ministry of Economics and Labor and is based on cooperation between the partners Eurocopter Deutschland (management, design, production, controls, tests), the EADS Corporate Research Centre CRC (piezoceramic actuators), DaimlerChrysler (energy supply, data transfer), as well as the German Aerospace Center DLR (controls, data transfer).
Bell Selects All-Chelton Cockpit for 407
Bell Helicopter has picked Chelton Flight Systems to provide the "glass cockpit" system for its 407 light single engine helicopter. The contract has a potential value in excess of $100 million.
With the selection, Bell becomes the first major OEM to offer synthetic vision for all light and medium single-engine helicopters. The 407, slated to be the first aircraft to receive the upgrade, is the fastest selling aircraft in history in its class. Plans call for Chelton equipment to become the "preferred" equipment offered for the 206B JetRanger, 206L LongRanger, and the new Bell 210.
This a major OEM win for Chelton, a global aerospace enterprise that has historically focused on military, airline, and special-mission markets.
"This obviously represents a significant milestone for Chelton," says Gordon Pratt, President of Chelton Flight Systems. "While this technology has been FAA certified for years in aircraft ranging from the Bell JetRanger to the Cessna Citation, Bell will be the first OEM to offer this advanced technology from the factory."
A U.S. Navy Landing Signal Enlisted prepares a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter for lift-off from the flight deck of the USS Tarawa (LHA 1) while the ship operates at sea on July 29, 2005. Tarawa is the flagship for Expeditionary Strike Group 1 and is on a Western Pacific deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. licopter for lift-off from the flight deck of the USS Tarawa (LHA 1) while the ship operates at sea on July 29, 2005. Tarawa is the flagship for Expeditionary Strike Group 1 and is on a Western Pacific deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Russians Dominate World Helicopter Championship
The Russian helicopter team took first place in the 12th FAI sponsored World Helicopter Championship held August 16-20 in Rouen, France. France and Germany were second and third, respectively, in the team competition, followed in order by Austria, the U.K., Byelorussia (or Belarus) and Switzerland. Overall first place individual winner was Vladimir Zyablikov, with crewmember Valdimire Gladchenko, of Russia flying an Mi-2. Second place individual winner was also from Russia, Viktor Korotayev and his crewmember Nikolay Burov, also flying an Mi-2. Third place was Jean Claude Duverne of France and his crewmember Philippe Arnould.
Caroline Gough-Cooper and her teammate Imogen Asker retained their titles of Ladies World Champions flying their R-22 for the United Kingdom. Second place winners in the women's teams were Galina Shpigovskaya and Ljubov Goubar of Russia while third place went to Svetlana Chupina and Elena Prokofieva of Russia, both teams flying Mi-2s.
Winners were determined by the total number of points achieved in four categories: navigation, precision flight, fender rigging and a slalom.
Bell Delivers 3000th Mirabel Helicopter
Bell Helicopter delivered the 3000th aircraft assembled at its Mirabel, Canada facility on Aug. 24, with CEO Mike Redenbaugh handing the keys for the Bell 412 to Air Logistics CEO Bill Chiles and General Manager Mike Suldo. Air Logistics' fleet of six 412s, including the newest one, provides transportation and support for oil and gas industry companies in the Gulf of Mexico. Of the company's 183 helicopters, 132 are Bell models.
The facility northwest on Montreal, which opened in 1986, promises to be busy for some time. Bell Helicopter Canada President Jacques St-Laurent noted Bell's new, $2-billion-plus contract to provide up to 368 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters to the U.S. Army will bring $700 million of work to the facility during the roughly seven-year program. Mirabel will assemble the aircraft and deliver them green to Bell in Texas for completion. The first is to roll out next year.
In a related development, Bell subsidiary Edwards & Associates has begun the first of two phases of construction of a five-building, 140,000-sq.-ft. repair, refurbishment and sales facility. The Piney Flats, Tenn., facility will include a completion center, maintenance hangar, paint shop and a building for production of new Bell 210 light utility helicopters. The 14-month construction project will give Edwards a total of 300,000 sq. ft. in Piney Flats. Edwards' work force, which has grown from 330 to 370, is expected to increase to 430 in the next two years. Edwards is investing $8 million in the project, with $1.1 million in state and local incentives.
V-22 Progresses on Hill, Starts Tanker Tests
The House Armed Services Committee has now received a letter from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, certifying that the V-22 has satisfied certain criteria required prior to authorization for increased production rates of the tilt-wing aircraft. Production of the aircraft "above the minimum sustaining rate" had been prohibited under a law passed in December 2001.
In a letter dated Sept. 8, 2005, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Kenneth Krieg advised the committee that the V-22 had successfully demonstrated:
1. the reliability of hydraulic system components and flight control software to achieve low risk to crews and passengers under operational conditions,
2. sufficient reliability and maintainability levels to achieve operational availability at the level required for fleet aircraft,
3. operationally effectiveness when employed in operations with other V-22 and other types of aircraft, and
4. effective operations taking into consideration the downwash effects inherent in the operation of the aircraft.
A formal letter from the Defense Acquisition Board to the Congress recommending authorization for full production of the V-22 was expected to have been sent by the end of September.
The aircraft also began testing last August to determine the safety of air-to-air refueling with U.S. Air Force KC-135 tankers. It has already conducted, and passed, testing with Air Force KC-10 tankers, U.S. Marine Corps KC-130 tankers and Air Force Special Operations MC-130s. The testing consists of determining if the re-fueling mechanisms can safely be joined in mid-air, followed by the actual movement of fuel from the KC-135 to the V-22. of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Breeze-Eastern Wins Dhruv Rescue Hoist, U.S. Navy Contracts
Breeze-Eastern has been awarded a contract valued over $1.8 million from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Helicopter Division, Bangalore, India. The Breeze-Eastern HS-20200 electric rescue hoist system was chosen after best meeting the rigid requirements for the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) platform in performance, delivery, quality, and support. The rescue hoist systems are deliverable by March 31, 2006.
Breeze-Eastern currently supplies Hindustan Aeronautics Limited with hydraulic rescue hoist systems for the ALH platform.
Robert L. G. White, President and CEO of TransTechnology Corporation, Breeze-Eastern's parent company, said that, "This contract is a direct result of listening to the customer and providing them with the best solution for their requirements. This award for the electric rescue hoist system solidifies our position as the hoist supplier for the ALH platform."
Breeze-Eastern also said it has won a fixed price contract worth $548,000 from the U.S. Naval Inventory Control Point, Philadelphia, Pa. for its BL-27100-85 Hydraulic Rescue Hoists for use on the Navy's H-60 helicopter. All work under the contract will be performed at the company's Union, N.J. facility, and is to be completed by June 2006. The contract was competitively procured, with two proposals solicited and two offers received.
Headstone Needed For Marine Medal of Honor Winner
A U.S. Marine helicopter crew chief is attempting to raise funds for a special granite headstone to mark the grave of a fellow USMC crew chief who was awarded the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. PFC Raymond M Clausen, Jr., was awarded the Medal of Honor for action on January 31, 1970, when he left the safety of his CH-46 helicopter and ran through a minefield to rescue elements of a marine platoon. The platoon had inadvertently entered the minefield while attacking enemy positions. Clausen guided the helicopter's pilot into an area that had been cleared by a previous explosion, then left the helicopter to assist 11 wounded marines and eight others back to the helicopter.
According to the citation, "despite the ever-present threat of further mine explosions, he continued his valiant efforts, leaving the comparatively safe area of the helicopter on six separate occasions to carry out his rescue efforts. On one occasion while he was carrying one of the wounded, another mine detonated, killing a corpsman and wounding three other men. Only when he was certain that all marines were safely aboard did he signal the pilot to lift the helicopter."
Clausen is reported to be the only U.S. Marine helicopter crew chief to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Nepal Persists in Everest Spat With Eurocopter
The government of Nepal just won't give up in its dispute with Eurocopter over the manufacturer's record-setting landing on Mount Everest. Nepal reportedly is preparing to ask international civil aviation organizations to take action against Eurocopter for making `false statement' about the landing.
"We are sending official letters to the International Civil Aviation Organization, French Civil Aviation Authority, International Federation of Airline Pilots' Association and Guinness World Records," said an official at the Ministry of Culture, Civil Aviation and Tourism. He said that the government is approaching the international authorities as it is impossible for them to take action against Eurocopter from Nepal.
Eurocopter says its AS350B3 model helicopter successfully landed on top of the world on May 14-15 as per Fé¤©ration Aé²¯nautique Internationale. Nepal insists it was not allowed to do so.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), issued a statement on June 2 refuting Eurocopter's claim .
HAL takes re-engined and upgraded Chetan up to 21,300ft
The Chetan, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's (HAL) re-engined and upgraded Chetak helicopter, set a new record for aircraft type when it successfully completed hot and high altitude tests in the Siachen Glacier recently. With this performance, Chetan has proved that it can conquer the Himalayan heights up to its service ceiling of 21,300 feet. Previously, the operations of the Chetak were restricted to 10,000 feet, due to a number of limitations.
Piloted by Wg Cdr P.S. Rao and Wg Cdr S. Jain, the Chetan underwent a series of trials from August 16-23 in the Siachen Glacier under hostile conditions. "We have gone for a trial validation and Chetan had never operated there before. The tests were conducted well within the existing envelope of the original helicopter (Chetak)," the pilots said.
Although the armed forces are using the Cheetah for high altitude operations, the Chetan provides certain significant benefits over the Cheetah due to its larger cabin volume. The recent tests by HAL have proven that the Chetan can comfortably carry a payload of up to 100 kg (220 lb.) at altitudes of 21,000 feet and at temperatures up to international standard atmosphere ISA+15 deg C.
Offshore Logistics Moves to Houston
Offshore Logistics, formerly Lafayette, La.-based, has moved its headquarters from Lafayette to Houston, Texas. President and CEO Bill Chiles explained the move by stating that the energy industry has experienced significant growth in recent years and the move to Houston "strategically places us in the heart of the international energy industry and is consistent with our ongoing strategy to grow our helicopter transportation services globally." However, he also noted that the company will continue to maintain a strong presence in Lafayette, New Iberia "and other south Louisiana communities through its subsidiaries, Air Logistics LLC and Grasso Production Management, Inc."
The company's new headquarters is at 2000 W. Sam Houston Parkway South, Suite 1700, Houston, Texas 77042. The new telephone number is 713-267-7600.
Australian Helicopter Pilot awarded UK Distinguished Flying Cross.
The British Ministry of Defence announced on the 9 September that Captain Scott Watkins, a member of the Australian Army serving with the British Army Air Corps, has been awarded a DFC for gallant services as a helicopter pilot in Iraq.
"Scotty" Watkins was attached to the Army Air Corps in January 2003 on exchange from the Australian Army. He served in 652 Squadron in 1 Regiment based in Germany and went on numerous exercises in a variety of countries including Austria, Norway and Kenya. The highlight of his exchange was his deployment to Iraq as a Lynx Flight Commander.
In November 2004 a British Army battle group, mainly consisting of the 1st Battalion, the Black Watch (1BW), a Scottish regiment, was tasked to deploy to Camp Dogwood near Fallujah in aid of the US Marine Corps. On November 10, the USMC birthday, the first mission was to take a kilted piper to play at the birthday celebrations at Camp Kalsu. Afterwards Watkins, aircraft commander, along with his pilot Capt Keith Reesby and Door Gunner Corporal "Dinger" Ling were tasked, along with an RAF Puma, to move stores and equipment to and from Baghdad International Airport. Whilst over the airport Visual Reporting Point the Lynx was engaged and struck by insurgent fire. Capt Reesby was hit and Watkins took control and set heading for Camp Dogwood whilst Ling gave first aid to the pilot. After landing safely and seeing the pilot off to hospital, Watkins inspected the damage which seemed to have been the result of 7.62mm fire. Shortly afterwards whilst looking at the aircraft along with an engineer they were forced to take cover under the helicopter when several 107mm rockets landed nearby, one of which severed the hydraulic lines and control rods. Two days later Watkins was in action again and took further incoming fire from AK-47s. This time Corporal Ling returned fire and eventually several insurgents were captured and bomb making equipment found. In the seven days of his detachment Watkins flew 26 hours, came under rocket attack on four separate occasions and had two aircraft damaged by hostile fire. --Joe West
Bond Training Services Launches EC135 FTD Simulator
Bond Training Services has launched the world's first EC 135 helicopter simulator, with students undergoing various courses, including conversion and instrument rating at a 2.5 million USD purpose-built facility at Gloucestershire Airport.
The full motion, six axis Flying Training Device (FTD) combines the experience of Bond Air Services, the operator of the UK's largest fleet of EC 135T2 helicopters, and the technical expertise of cueSim, Europe's largest science and technology organisation.
Initial courses are being undertaken for Bond Offshore Helicopters' Co-pilots to Instrument Rating standard, including multi-crew cooperation, autopilot and glass cockpit training, as part of the Aberdeen-based operator's continuing build-up of services to the oil and gas industry.
CAA certification has been awarded for the maximum 40 hours credit of simulator training included in an instrument rating course.
The simulator will also be used for initial instrument ratings, type conversions, competency checks and continuation checks by Bond Air Services which in September will take delivery of the 11th of 15 EC 135 aircraft, on order for its UK-wide operations. Training for customers other than Bond companies will begin in September.
The range of courses available is attracting strong interest from companies in the UK and overseas - including France, Norway and Switzerland - with representatives visiting the simulator.
Industry Loses Pair of Pioneers
Jack Real, a major force in the helicopter industry during the second half of the 20th Century, passed away on Sept. 6.
During his career, he served as vice president and general manager for the AH-56A Cheyenne program, was president of Hughes Helicopter during development of the AH-64 Apache when it received the Robert J. Collier trophy and was head of all rotary wing programs at Lockheed from 1968 until he left in 1971 to become senior vice president of aviation for the Howard Hughes Corp.
He was serving as president and CEO of McDonald Douglas Helicopter Company when he retired in 1987.
Alaska aviation pioneer Carl F. Brady Sr. (upper right) died in his Anchorage home Aug. 20. He was 85.
Credited as the man who introduced the helicopter to Alaska, Brady left an indelible imprint on aviation, business and political circles during his nearly 60 years in the state.
"He had a good heart for the place where he lived, and he really helped change Alaska," former Gov. Wally Hickel said Monday.
Born Oct. 29, 1919, in Chelsea, Okla., Brady grew up on a farm near Springdale, Ark., where his family moved when he was 10 years old.
Throughout his life, Brady frequently cited Charles Lindbergh's 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic as his inspiration for becoming a pilot.
By 1940, living in Yakima, Wash., Brady had learned to fly planes. Then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, pulling the United States into World War II and prompting Brady to move to Arcadia, Fla., where he served as a civilian flight instructor for the Army Air Corps.
He entered active military service in 1943, when he was commissioned a second lieutenant, and continued as a flight instructor on the home front throughout the war.
Soon after he got out of the service, Brady learned to fly helicopters. He moved back to Yakima, where in 1946, with two partners, he formed a crop-dusting company. Two years later, at age 28, Brady ventured north with one of the newfangled flying machines -- a Bell 47A, the first commercial helicopter produced in the United States.
In other sad news, Bill Dvorak of Air Logistics died in a helicopter accident, August 17, while landing on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. He was a member of HAI's Technical Committee, as well as a former Chairman of the committee.
Mr. Dvorak first began flying while in the U.S. Army. He was a Warrant Officer serving as a pilot on helicopters flying medical evacuation flights in Vietnam.
During his tour of duty, his helicopter was shot down. Mr. Dvorak was awarded the Army Air Medal 11 times and a Purple Heart. Mr. Dvorak left the Army in 1972 as a Captain.
Oct. 3-6--American Helicopter Society International Powered Lift Conference, Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine, Texas. Contact: Kim Smith, (703) 684-6777; Website: www.vtol.org.
Oct. 10-12--Heli-Asia 2005, Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand. Contact: Sam Cader, 44-1628-606979; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.shephard.co.uk/heli-asia.
Oct. 15-16--American Helicopter Museum Rotorfest, West Chester, Penn. Contact: (610) 436-9600; Website: www.helicoptermuseum.org.
Oct. 23--Wings, Wheels, Rotors Expo, Los Alamitos Army Airfield, Los Alamitos, Orange Co., Calif. Helicopters on display along with warplanes, classic cars and motorcycles. Includes Helicopter Awareness Day. Contact: Show organizers, telephone: (562) 598-6659; E-Mail: email@example.com; Website: www.wrexpo.com.
Oct. 24-26--Air Medical Transport Conference, Austin, Texas. Austin Convention Center. Contact: Natasha Ross, (703) 836-8732; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.aams.org.
Oct. 25-27--American Helicopter Society National Technical Specialists' Meeting on Rotorcraft Structures and Survivability, Radission, Fort Magruder Inn and Conference Center, Williamsburg, Va. Contact: Jerry Irvine, (757) 878-3272; Website: www.ahs-hrc.org
Nov. 7-9--2nd Int'l Basic Research Conference on Rotorcraft Technology, Nanjing, China. Contact: Prof. Gao Zheng, 86-25-84892120; E-mail: email@example.com, or Prof. Daniel Schrage, (404) 894-6257; E-mail: Daniel.Schrage@aerospace.gatech.edu.
Nov. 9-11--NBAA Annual Meeting and Convention, Orlando Orange Co. Convention Center, Orlando, Fla. Contact: NBAA 202-783-9000; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.nbaa.com. (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.
Nov 20-24--Dubai Airshow, Dubai, UAE. Contact: Clive Richardson, Fairs & Exhibitions, 44-20-8391-0999; E-mail: email@example.com. Website: www.fairs-exhibs.com/airshow05, or www.dubaiairshow.org.
Pierre Fabre has been appointed Executive Vice-President of Turbomeca SA, replacing Henri Sala who will assume other functions within the SAFRAN Group. Sala retains his functions as the President of the Turbomeca subsidiaries Microturbo SA and CGTM. Fabre previously served as President and CEO of CFM International, a joint subsidiary of Snecma and General Electric based in Cincinnati, USA.
American Eurocopter has appointed Keith H. Haney to the position of Manager, Law Enforcement. A retired captain in the Ohio State Highway Patrol, where his service included 14 years in the aviation section, Haney joined American Eurocopter last February as Manager, New Helicopter Deliveries. Daniel Johnson, a former Los Angeles Police Department pilot, replaces Haney as Manager, New Helicopter Deliveries. Johnson had served as a flight instructor and check airman with the LAPD.
Standard Aero announced that Senior Vice Present Lee Beaumont has left to company to pursue other interests. He had been working on special projects reporting directly to CEO Dave Shaw.