New Zealand’s Composite Helicopters International has confirmed it plans to continue development of the KC-518 Adventourer despite the all-composite helicopter recently suffering a second crash in its flight-testing program.
The KC-518, which has been under development for a couple of years, is described by Composite Helicopters as the world’s first all-composite frameless helicopter. The Rolls-Royce 250-powered five/six-seat helicopter is constructed from carbon and Kevlar and will be available in a kit version first, to be followed by a certificated version.
Photo courtesy Composite Helicopters International
In the latest incident, the prototype was preparing to land after a test flight when the pilots detected a severe low-frequency vibration. The pilot declared an emergency and during the emergency landing the helicopter pitched up and rolled on its side, says the company. Test pilot Norbert Idelon suffered a minor injury to the shoulder and was taken to hospital, while president Peter Maloney was treated at the scene.
“Yes, we have absolutely every intention of continuing with the program. The outcome of our investigations will inform future plans and timings of availability for the prototype,” says Lara Jane Maloney, head of marketing. The manufacturer and New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority are investigating the cause of the crash.
“Though the accident was unfortunate, we are impressed by the strength of the carbon-Kevlar composite fuselage which withstood the force of impact when landing,” says Peter Maloney. He adds: “It was the unique composite structure of the helicopter that saved us from serious injury. It absorbed the energy, which is what it’s designed to do.”
During an incident last year, the pilot was forced to ditch into a harbor when the helicopter lost power.