Eurocopter’s EC175 helicopter has managed to secure two new world records – the fastest climb to 3000 feet (three minutes and 10 seconds) and the fastest climb to 6000 feet (six minutes and 54 seconds). The just-ratified records were set on 6 February this year at Istres Airforce Base in France with experimental flight test pilot Alain Di-Bianca in the pilot’s seat.
Eurocopter notes that the EC175 is targeting EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) certification in early 2014 and is currently submitting the rotorcraft’s flight manual to the agency as part of the certification process.
Its strong performance in February gives Eurocopter high hopes for the future of the new machine. “The EC175 confirmed it is the best-performing, most cost-effective and easiest to fly helicopter in its category,” says Laurent Vautherin, head of the EC175 program.
The EC175 is a medium-sized twin-engine helicopter designed for a full range of missions, including oil and gas airlifts, search and rescue, emergency medical services, public services, VIP and executive transport.
Among other features, it boasts hover out of ground effect (HOGE) at maximum 7.5-tonne take-off weight at 4500 feet at ISA+20°C conditions; one engine inoperative (OEI) hover performance, which ensures safety during hosting for search and rescue missions; and extensive power reserve and heli-deck performance (PC1) at maximum take-off weight in ISA+20°C conditions. It has a recommended cruise speed of 150 knots and a maximum cruise speed exceeding 165 knots.
The EC175′s production schedule is currently being ramped up, with the 15th model now on the final assembly line.
This week Bell Helicopter unveiled the latest upgrade to its Bell 429. The occasion was the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) 2013 conference, held in Las Vegas, Nevada from 22 to 24 October. The main feature of the Bell 429WLG (pictured) is that its landing gear comprises three wheels instead of the traditional skids.
Bell says this helps reduce the drag associated with skids and leads to an increased cruise speed. The company also claims the helicopter is able to land in a larger variety of terrains and conditions compared to its skid-bearing cousins. Wheels also aid in taxiing in limited spaces, such as when positioning closer to fixed-based operators.
“Offering a wheeled landing gear option for the Bell 429 builds on our ongoing efforts to innovate our current products as we introduce new ones,” says Danny Maldonado, Bell Helicopter’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.
Apart from displaying the helicopter publicly for the first time, Bell announced it has already made its first sale of the 429WLG. Argentinean company Rio Iruya expects to take delivery of the helicopter in the first half of next year and intends to use it for corporate and VIP transport. “The development of the wheeled landing gear will benefit me tremendously while manoeuvring through the airports of my city, Buenos Aires, where in many cases helicopters and aeroplanes share the same landing platform,” says Sebastian Eskenazi, president and CEO of Rio Iruya.
The first IMAX film to be shot entirely from the air has hit the giant screen. Helinews Editor Christina Hogarth speaks to Jerry Grayson and Sara Hine from Helifilms about their environmentally charged, 45-minute movie, The Earth Wins.
Helifilms, a production company established in the UK in 1989 by Sara Hine and Jerry Grayson, specialises in aerial filming using the latest high-definition gyro-stabilised camera technologies. In 2002, the company opened an office in Melbourne, Australia, followed by offices in Los Angeles in the US and Cape Town, South Africa.
Their work ranges from feature films to live sporting broadcasts, documentaries, and footage for museums and science centres across the world. Black Hawk Down, the James Bond franchise, District 9, Domino, Déjà Vu, The Island, We Are Marshall, Waist Deep and Transformers are just some of the films that feature their work.
The team consists of experienced aerial crews of directors, film pilots, producers, production coordinators, directors of photography, camera operators, technicians and helicopter engineers. Hine explains, “Cross-hiring helicopters allows us to focus solely on our specialisation in film. The film cameras that we use are almost the same price as a helicopter, but require slightly less maintenance.”
Now both a helicopter pilot and director, Grayson started out flying in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm where he spent eight years and was awarded the prestigious Air Force Cross by Queen Elizabeth II for outstanding gallantry in Search and Rescue.
He left the Navy in 1980 to focus on aerial film work and rapidly earned the accolade of being one of the world’s leading helicopter film pilots.
Grayson’s first exposure to the giant screen was conducting aerial filming for the IMAX concert film Rolling Stones Live at the Max, a film that broke new ground by being the first 90-minute feature and the first concert film for IMAX theatres.
He describes filming for IMAX as a completely different process to filming for the TV or cinema; the main difference being that the giant screen canvas is so huge that you cannot afford to have very much camera movement. It would be too overwhelming. Instead of the fast editing pace used in feature films and music videos, IMAX films require long shots, so that the viewer can take in the image.
“Filming for IMAX requires very gentle camera movements and very gentle helicopter movements because, as with all giant screen films, the action should be taking place within the frame rather than having to move the frame in order to achieve some action,” says Grayson.
Four months after going into production, the first AgustaWestland AW189 8-tonne-class twin-engine helicopter to roll off the line has taken its maiden flight at the company’s Vergiate plant in Italy.
Designed to meet market demand for a versatile, affordable, multirole medium helicopter, the AW189 is optimised for long-range offshore transport and search-and-rescue (SAR) missions. The aircraft used in the maiden flight is destined to be delivered to the UK’s Bristow Helicopters by the end of the year to carry out offshore transport missions in the North Sea. AgustaWestland says that it has already received orders for more than 80 aircraft.
The cabin has a standard 16-seat configuration, but can be changed to a high-density 18-seat or a long-range 12-seat layout. AgustaWestland says the aircraft “is unique in having a 50-minute ‘run-dry’ capable main gear box, exceeding current certification standards and offering unmatched safety and reliability for long range offshore operations”.
The AW189 has a number of features that give it wide operational capabilities, including:
Offshore: All Weather Day and Night, VFR/IFR certified; high cruising speed and very high payload due to a highly efficient rotor system; superior OEI capability; enhanced situational awareness via next-generation avionics.
SAR: Unobstructed cabin accommodates rescue crew, longitudinal and transversal stretchers and mission consoles.
Parapublic: Can be configured with a wide range of advanced sensors, role and communication equipment; flexible cabin space; quickly removable options such as a fast rope system and cargo hook for special forces and utility operations.
Corporate/VIP: Speed and low internal vibration and noise deliver heightened passenger comfort; Auxiliary Power Unit on the ground provides air conditioning without the need to engage rotors; VVIP interiors available.
Here’s a quirky story we liked: An estate agent selling a house in New Canaan, in the US state of Connecticut, has targeted helicopter owners by saying that, while landing an aircraft on residential property in New Canaan is strictly verboten, the estate straddles the state border into Pound Ridge, New York, where you’re welcome to do what you like.
It’s a great sales pitch, but it seems that the area available for landing is a smallish patch of lawn next to the pool which is only suitable for a Robinson R22 or similar. We suppose if you were really serious you could fill in the pool and convert the pool house into a hangar!
The five-bedroom, four-and-two-half bathroom house sits on 3.3 hectares of land and could be your for the price of US$3.7 million. R22 not included.
Avincis has bought three new Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma helicopters to be used by local subsidiary Bond Helicopters Australia to service its multi-million dollar, five year contract with the PTTEP Australasia Group of Companies, part of Thailand’s national petroleum exploration and production company.
This is Bond’s first major contract in the region and marks the company’s entry into one of the fastest growing offshore markets in the world.
Specifically configured for offshore flight, the EC225 is a high-performance heavy twin-engine helicopter weighing 11 tons and featuring two Turbomeca Makila 2A1 engines delivering 1776 kW of power each, a five-blade rotor and a gearbox that meets the 30-minute dry-run requirements of the latest JAR 29 amendments.
The aircraft has a seating capacity of up to 19 passengers in three configurations: Passenger (two pilots plus 19 passengers); search-and-rescue (two pilots plus four crew with comfort seats plus up to 20 passengers or three stretchers; and Executive/VIP (two pilots plus eight to 12 passengers).
Of special interest to oil and gas operators is the aircraft’s ability to easily change its mission role from passenger transportation to light SAR, thanks to ADELT (Automatically Deployable Emergency Locator Transmitter for Helicopters), an optional pod for additional fuel tanks or luggage compartment, space provision and basic wiring for SAR mission equipment and a cabin ﬂoor with integrated rails.
In the case of an emergency, the large windows push out to allow easy egress and thus quick and easy access to integrated life-rafts.
“We are delighted to have secured these aircraft for our new Bond business in Australia,” Avincis CEO James Drummond said in a statement. “This strengthens our strategic relationship with Eurocopter, who are an important partner in Avincis’ future growth.”
On Eurocopter’s side, CEO Guillaume Faury said: “Our long-term relationship with the Avincis Group has been built on a basis of mutual confidence, and I look forward to furthering this partnership with the delivery of three more EC225s.”
These latest additions to Avincis’ global fleet of around 350 aircraft will be support PTTEP’s operations in the Timor Sea. The first two aircraft will be delivered in December 2013, with the third EC225 due to arrive in the second half of 2014.
Quality Aviation Instruments Inc (QAI) and Gulf Helicopters Inc (GHC) have announced from Helitech in London that they have entered into a Joint Venture for component repair facilities to be located in Doha, Qatar. The agreement covers component repairs of accessories, avionics and instruments.
“We have a strong customer base in the Middle East and Asia and a dedicated customer service team in the region,” said QAI president Robert Sieber. “This new facility will enable us to expedite service, reduce downtime and reduce costs for our customers. GHC is known for its attention to safety, state-of-the-art facility and fleet of aircraft. GHC has an impeccable reputation that spans more than 40 years. We are excited to be entering into this venture.”
The repair shops will be certified by both the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and are expected to begin operations in late 2013 or early 2014. The new facilities will focus on component repairs for AgustaWestland AW139 along with Bell, Eurocopter and Agusta medium and light platforms.
“Gulf Helicopters is delighted to strengthen our longstanding relationship with Quality Aviation by establishing a joint venture in Qatar, to serve the growing demand in our region,” said Mohamed Al Mohannadi, CEO of Gulf Helicopters.
With the rapidly expanding aviation market in the Middle East and Asia, both parties agreed that component repair shops to support the region make sense. Decreasing both shipping costs and turn times will benefit current and future customers in the region. With Gulf Helicopters’ reputation in the region and QAI’s reputation for excellent quality, turn times and customer service, this Joint Venture is based on the strengths of both organisations.
On 19 August 2013, 20 people gathered at Renzo’s bar in Melbourne’s Docklands to celebrate the first occasion of what will be an annual award for mentors.
Established by Helinews owner, Nick Dower, as a way of recognising outstanding mentorship within the industry, The Rusty Award was set up in memory of Russell Aitken who was tragically taken in an accident in Papua New Guinea on 5 July 2012.
Rusty worked as an instructor for several years and guided many pilots through their careers.
Nick Dower presented the award to Russell’s wife, Kelly Aitken, in the presence of family, friends and colleagues. He described Rusty as “a fabulous mentor” and said, “His absence will always be felt. He was one of a kind.”
Close friend, Steve Chiodo, delivered a heartwarming speech expressing gratitude for having had such a dedicated friend, instructor and mentor.
The occasion served as an opportunity for Rusty’s family, friends and work colleagues to meet and exchange stories. Family members said, “After over a year of sadness, it was lovely to celebrate Russell’s life and achievements and learn more about the industry and people that he loved so much.”
The award came one week after Russell’s burial and what would have been his 44th birthday.
If you know someone you think has been a great mentor, nominate them. Applications are currently open for the 2013 Rusty Award.
Email email@example.com with your name and the company you work for and the name of the person you wish to nominate and why.
AgustaWestland has delivered the first of seven AW139 intermediate twin engine helicopters to the Swedish Maritime Administration, for use in search-and-rescue (SAR) operations. The second aircraft is expected to be delivered shortly, with all deliveries to be completed within 2014.
Over 730 AW139s have been ordered by more than 200 customers in about 60 countries – including Australia. The 580-odd helicopters currently in service have logged close to 750,000 flight hours in roles such as SAR, air ambulance, offshore transport, VIP/corporate transport, law enforcement and military transport missions.
AgustaWestland says the SMA’s AW139s are equipped with a range of dedicated mission systems including a Full Ice Protection System (FIPS), which “allows flights into known icing conditions and enabling all weather operations, when other types would be confined to the hangar”.
In Australia, Heliflite has been the exclusive Australian distributor and service centre for Agusta civil helicopters since 1977. The AW139 is a 15-passenger-capable medium helicopter featuring twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C turbines which, combined with a state-of-the-art five-bladed main rotor, deliver high cruising speeds in demanding conditions at all weights.
It has a maximum cruising speed of 306km/h (165 kts), a 10.9m/s rate of climb, service ceiling (MCP) of 6096m (20,000ft) and a maximum range of 1,250km (with 1654kg of fuel).