Commercial, Products

Helitech Heads for Big City London

By By Andrew Healey | September 24, 2013
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Reed Exhibitions is taking something of a punt with this year’s Helitech International Exhibition & Conference at the ExCel in London, and rivals will closely scrutinize its figures.

Ever since its launch in the 1980s, Europe’s answer to Heli-Expo has made a feature of its low-key, rural setting. First at Redhill in Surrey, where weather played havoc with several days-worth of show-time (remember the feeling of sodden industrial carpet underfoot?), but a Churchillian bond developed between exhibitor and visitor.

Then to Duxford in Cambridgeshire, where visitors may have struggled to find bed-and-breakfast accommodation but there were definite upsides: the exhibitor receptions in the USAAF museum certainly, or the opportunities to witness a mock dogfight between the resident Spitfire and Messerschmitt Me109.

MD500E and Eurocopter EC135 at Helitech 2011 in Duxford. This year’s
event is in the heart of London.

Then, in 2010, the final Portuguese experiment heralded something of a coup: original show director Sue Bradshaw was replaced by a team from the Reed Exhibitions.
Immediately after Helitech 2011, the decision was made to forsake tranquil Duxford for the throbbing heart of London.

If as a seasoned visitor you have never been to ExCel, in the capital’s east end and in sight of the Olympic stadium, you will feel right at home. It is like every other convention center in the world. You can expect easy access to lots of accommodation, proper toilets, potentially reliable wi-fi connections and plenty of food outlets.

Owned by an Abu Dhabi firm, ExCel is marketed as London’s largest exhibition venue. It boasts six hotels with 1,400 rooms, 3,700 parking spaces and a full 100,000 square meters (more than 1 million square feet) of rentable space. Helitech will take up less than a quarter of this area and, by the way, will share the rest with a conference and exhibition on MRO and Europe’s largest fiber-optic communications event.

So familiar old Helitech faces something of an acid test. How will the 2013 attendance figures stack up? Exhibitors have been promised a lot. Success will prove a very big point for Reed. It will do much to ensure the show’s survival and, incidentally, serve as a testament to the resilience of the rotorcraft sector.

If they are disappointed, will Reed bear faith for another two years? Or will the likes of Heli UK Expo, AeroExpo UK, the European Helicopter Show and The Helicopter Show get the opportunity to fight over the scraps?


Not Just an Aircraft Cover

From the Mediterranean island of Corsica comes Aerobache (Stand P19), a specialist provider of protective covers for airframes and canopies.

The fabrics for these covers are not only anti-UV treated, but they constitute a genuine barrier to ultra-violet ray penetration, thereby preventing damage to Perspex canopies as well as protecting aircraft upholstery. They are also 100 percent waterproof.

The covers are fleece-lined to avoid damage and scratching from seams, and are light in color to reflect the heat that can damage instruments and deform canopies (also available in green for military aircraft). Fabrics are lightweight for portability and the cutting process ensures that each element fits tightly and will not flap or rub in the wind. Engine exhausts are protected with heat-resistant fabrics.

All the elements are removable and are secured by easy-to-fit Velcro straps to ensure the best possible fit, thereby protecting against wind and ensure water run-off without pooling. The seams are sealed with a special resin to ensure they too are watertight.

For more information visit


Fastfin “Pays for Itself” on Bells

EASA has certified BLR Aerospace’s FastFin tail rotor enhancement and stability system for the Bell 412 series. The approval adds to those already held for the Bell 204, 205, and 212 models. Meet with BLR at Stand D30 during the show.

BLR’s flagship FastFin enables performance improvements in useful load, wind azimuth tolerance and hover stability for Bell medium variants.

“European operators have been asking for this certification and we are pleased to further expand the reach of this remarkable technology,” said Dave Marone, vice president of sales and marketing for BLR Aerospace. “With FastFin installed, Bell 412 operators can realize significant increases in useful load, in some cases as much as 1,250 pounds.”

Operators can also expect a return on their investment in FastFin. Says Marone: “Helicopters can carry more while flying the same number of hours, or accomplish the same amount of work in fewer flight hours. It’s a powerful profitability lever.”
During Helitech, Bell medium operators should visit the BLR’s stand (#D30) to pick up a return on investment (ROI) analysis customized for their own fleets. It will illustrate the payback period and the savings they can expect in subsequent years.

Bell 212s are popular throughout Europe – BLR estimates that more than 100 Bell 204s, 205s and 212s are active, alongside several hundred additional AgustaWestland and Bell mediums. BLR is completing STCs for those aircraft.

In 2010, Bell Helicopter made FastFin standard equipment on the new Bell 412EP and, today, more than 550 FastFin systems are operating worldwide, supporting missions ranging from airborne law enforcement and HEMS to heli-skiing and offshore oil transport.

The system includes two parallel stall strips on the tail-boom and a reshaped vertical fin. The strips optimize airflow around the tail-boom, dramatically improving tail rotor efficiency and wind azimuth tolerance. The complete system reduces operating costs, cycle fatigue in structures and demands on the tail rotor’s rotating components.

For more information visit


Breeze-Eastern’s Focus on Customer Support

Steady improvements in overhaul and repair turnaround times at Breeze-Eastern (Stand K21) represent an important element of a broader customer support improvement initiative, according to the company. Breeze-Eastern is improving turnaround times by more than 50 percent over the past year, while overhauling its Customer Support organization with new leadership, an expanded team and a new 24-hour support line.

The improved turnaround times “are the result of a long-term, sustained effort,” noted Breeze-Eastern President Brad Pedersen (shown here). “Our more recent efforts have been to invest in staff and material necessary to respond even more rapidly and further improve the customer experience.”

A new customer service phone number allows operators to speak directly with a Breeze-Eastern expert who can help or direct the call to the appropriate support, 24 hours a day. “The key is being proactive and responsive to customer requirements,” said VP Contracts and Customer Support Mike Koons. “We need to demonstrate change and let customers experience (the) improvements first-hand.”

For more information visit


Lead-Acid Makes a Comeback


Concorde Battery (Stand G70) has secured FAA, Transport Canada and Brazilian approvals to replace the standard nickel cadmium battery in the AgustaWestland AW139 with a higher capacity sealed lead acid device. The move comes as a response to feedback from AW139 operators concerned with slow engine starts from the standard Ni-Cad power source. The lead acid substitute is constructed with additional plates and designed for increased cranking power, faster starts and less engine wear.

Concorde sealed lead acid batteries are claimed to be a more economical solution to Ni-Cd, “with no maintenance requirements and reduced cost per flight hour.” Sealed lead acid technology does not have a memory and does not require unique charging equipment. The batteries are HAZMAT exempt, proven safe and reliable with no risk of thermal runaway.

For more information visit


Introducing Bearpaw from DART


DART Aerospace (Stand K60) has launched a Bearpaw Kit for the BK117/EC145, to provide balance and stability when landing or taking off in soft terrain. With a utility basket for the types ready to go as well, the company says it is opening up the possibilities for BK117 operators, making it easier for them to bid on utility contracts. Great Slave Helicopters President Jeff Denomme says that DART listens. “(The team) works closely with GSH to provide superior products that will help us complete our missions safely and efficiently.”

Bearpaw is made of high-density polymer that resists cracking, chipping and breaking, and its one-piece machined construction ensures consistent and deliberate load transfer. Bearpaw has received approval from Transport Canada and EASA, with FAA approval, “expected shortly.”

For more information visit


Gama Spreads Its Wings

Two years after moving into Fairoaks Airport – that green and pleasant field to the southwest of Heathrow Airport – the helicopter division of Gama Aviation (Stand E71) boasts a full set of approvals and a strategy to win over the corporate owner. According to Harry Lees, managing director, “with nine Sikorsky S-76s under our care we are already the largest service center for the type in the UK. We currently maintain a single AW139 and are actively targeting both those and its larger cousin, the AW169.” Located a mere ten minutes flight time from London’s Battersea Heliport, Fairoaks has always been a favorite for helicopter activity. The familiar Alan Mann Group is long-since gone but Gama Engineering, which took over most of the AM facilities and brought in a new management team, is now established as an EASA Part 145 maintenance facility and FAA-approved repair station. Among other approvals it holds military DAOS (with its civil equivalent Part 21J) Part M continuing airworthiness and Part 21G production.

Regular Gama helicopter clients include Starspeed, Castle Air, TAG (at nearby Farnborough) and, through prime contractor FBHeliservices, the Army Air Corps at Middle Wallop.

Construction on a new 50,000-square-foot hangar was due to start at show-time, with completion scheduled for next summer.

For more information visit


Targeting the HNI*

Luvair (Stand P51) describes itself as the global leader in VIP helicopter operations on super yachts around the world. It will also be hosting Nigel Watson Ltd. consultancy services, a company experienced in the field of integrating aircraft aboard luxury yachts.

Says Nigel Watson: “We want to see how we are received as a private operator with VVIP and luxury yacht experience.” The firm currently operates two Eurocopter EC155s in the London area, one each from Blackbushe and Stansted. An EC145 is based in the South of France and another EC145 and an AS365N3 fly from two of the largest private yachts in the world.

“We manage a team of twenty pilots and technicians from the Isle of Man,” Watson continues. “It balances experienced IFR captains, with extensive multi-crew operating time, with junior co-pilots (albeit commercial rotary with instrument ratings). I am keen to provide opportunities for inexperienced aircrew and, with client support, this we are successfully doing.”

Watson adds that the company operates globally, “from London, Germany, South of France, Caribbean and this past year, New York and California. Our operations are dictated by the positions of the yachts that we fly from.”
*High Net-worth Individual


Multiflight Fleet Stands at Five Eurocopter AS365 Dauphins

Multiflight (Stand M41) continues to expand its helicopter operation with five Eurocopter AS365 Dauphins now on the books. As part of its contract with Great North Air Ambulance Service it manages, crews and maintains three Dauphins at two locations in northern England. For more information visit




Premiair: Back from the Brink

UK operator Premiair (Stand G30) plans to make a splash at ExCel, unveiling a new CEO and management team and aiming to re-establish itself as a high-end helicopter charter and management provider. For long the butt of industry speculation that it was close to extinction, the business has emerged from six months of financial reorganization with a single UK presence (at Blackbushe Airport, to the west of London) and news of further developments.

Chairman and CEO Graham Avery explains that, “we have consolidated our maintenance and support services, including AOC, Part 145 Engineering, airworthiness, design and modification, here at Blackbushe. We will continue to offer an extensive range of premium executive helicopter charter and management services, as well as pilot training and the provision of pilots to police air support units.”

In addition, he continued, “we have acquired an international training organization, to be known as PALS, which boasts the most comprehensive library of aviation computer-based training content in the world.”

Premiair has renamed its helicopter site at Blackbushe the West London Heliport, which will offer its VIP customers fuel, short and long term parking, hangar space, aircraft cleaning – and a full concierge and limousine service to London. It is seeking a long-term sponsor for the facility, which will operate independently from the Premiair name

Concludes Avery: “The Premiair brand has long been synonymous with quality of service, reliability and trust. (We now have) the vision and resources to provide our customers with an unparalleled range of products and services.” For more information visit


Get Your R66 Here, Folks

Sloane Helicopters (Stand H50) will display Robinson’s turbine R66. Compared to its piston predecessors, the new model offers improved performance, a larger cabin, a fifth rear seat and a large baggage compartment.

The AgustaWestland and Robinson dealer will be exhibiting its range of engineering services, including maintenance, component overhaul and avionics. Sloane will also showcase the AW109SP GrandNew (see photo on page 16 during Helitech, and reports placing deposits on a number of AW169s for the EMS and VIP/corporate roles.

The Sloane Flying School offers flight training from ab initio to professional qualifications. Courses include PPL (H), CPL (H), Instrument Rating, Flight Instructor, Type and Night Rating. Information about the company’s Flight Navigation Procedures Trainer II simulator will also be available.

For more information visit Sloane Helicopters online at

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