Personal/Corporate, Products, Regulatory

Helicopters Guard the Perimeter at NBAA

By James T. McKenna and Sarah L. Fuller | November 10, 2016
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The rotorcraft industry made its presence known at last week’s National Business Aviation Assn. (NBAA) show in Orlando, with helicopters guarding the edges of the exhibit hall at the business-jet focused event.
Latitude Technologies signed a three-year contract to provide flight data analytics services to Canadian emergency medical services operator Ornge for its fleet of Leonardo AW139s. Photo courtesy of Ornge.
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Airbus Helicopters had its light single H125 and H130 in the northeast corner of the Orange County Convention Center’s north/south exhibit hall, near Robinson Helicopter’s own turbine R66 and an R44 displayed by operator Palm Beach Helicopters. In that corner, Firehawk Helicopters exhibited a surplus U.S. Army UH-60A with an FAA restricted-category type certificate and an Airbus AS350.
On the opposite side of the exhibit hall, Bell Helicopter showed a mockup of its “super medium” 525 Relentless with a VVIP interior by Mecaer Aviation Group.
Woven in between were booths showing the wares of engine makers, avionics companies, suppliers, service providers and maintenance, repair and overhaul shops.
NBAA started the three-day show, which opened Nov. 1, by addressing key political issues facing the business aviation community. One was the ongoing debate over privatization of the U.S. air traffic control system.
The issue was left out of the U.S. Congress’ 2016 FAA funding authorization bill, but NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen warned the issue is not dead.
“Democrats and Republicans in the Senate voted against it. It went nowhere in the House,” Bolen said at the show’s Nov. 1 media breakfast. But he added that big airlines are committed to pushing privatization. “It’s inevitable privatized ATC will be part of the policy discussion going forward.”
General Aviation Manufacturers Assn. President and CEO Pete Bunce, speaking at the breakfast, explained the opposition of that group and NBAA to the airlines’ privatization pitch. They included operational inflexibility and budget problems that afflict the privatized systems of other countries. 
“In Canada, where they have a private ATC system, they’ve had budget problems with their safety function,” Bunce said. “They had no money to send regulators to work safety issues with their counterparts around the world.”
As the show concluded, the helicopter gained a legal victory when a U.S. court ruled that local noise restrictions in East Hampton, New York — a key battle ground for helicopter noise — violate federal law. NBAA said the Nov. 4 ruling by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit “sets an important precedent for airports nationwide” by holding that airports that have accepted federal Airport Improvement Program grants must bow to federal rules on noise, regardless of whether they have decided to stop accepting such grants.
“NBAA has long advocated against unlawful and unreasonable restrictions being imposed at East Hampton Airport,” said NBAA’s Bolen. “We are gratified that the Second Circuit agrees that East Hampton remains bound by the 1990 Airport Noise and Capacity Act and related FAA policy and regulations.” 
East Hampton Airport is a big venue for the VIP traffic targeted by many exhibitors at the show.
Mecaer Aviation Group, for instance, highlighted MAGnificent VIP interiors for the Leonardo AW169 and Bell 429, as well as the mockup for the 525 and a new contract to develop one for Bell’s 505 Jet Ranger X light single. Mecaer also displays landing gear and flight control systems it produces for Airbus and Bell helicopters.
FlightSafety International is its master aviator program for helicopter pilots. 
“Master Aviator sets a new standard for pilot achievement and recognition, and helps pilots to develop a deeper knowledge of the helicopter they fly and to ensure a safe and correct response to a broad range of demanding, unexpected situations,” said FlightSafety Executive Vice President David Davenport,
The master aviator curriculum builds upon the fundamentals covered by initial and recurrent training. FlightSafety master aviator for helicopter pilots is earned by completing two advanced aircraft-specific core courses and a choice of four electives. At least one FlightSafety initial or recurrent training event must also be completed every eight months.
Becker Aviation showed the AMU6500 audio control unit it is developing. Although the company won’t be releasing further information on the product until early next year, it said the technology is a breakthrough in size and light weight. The company said it also opted for buttons instead of touchscreen, citing how difficult it is to use a touchscreen in a helicopter during high-vibration situations.
LORD Corporation, while unveiling its Embraer Legacy 450 and Legacy 500 jet simulation program, hinted at future rotorcraft products. Its newly acquired subsidiary, Fly-By-Wire Systems France, said a framework is being created that could lead to helicopter simulators. As helicopters get bigger, so will the need for fly-by-wire systems.

Latitude Technologies said it signed a three-year contract to provide flight data analytics services to Canadian emergency medical services operator Ornge for its fleet of Leonardo AW139s. Using existing onboard sold-state quick access recorders, Latitude will assist in developing a helicopter flight data monitoring program. Under that program, digital flight data generated during line operations would be collected and analyzed to provide greater insight into the total flight operations environment. 

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