Airbus Helicopters scored 78 bookings which underscored the competitiveness of its product line-with acquisitions covering rotor craft that range from the workhorse EC225 and the AS350 B2 and B3e; to the next-generation EC175, along with the new EC145 T2 and the evolved EC225e and AS332 C1e versions. Included in this new business are key transactions with leasing companies, underscoring their increasing importance in the rotor craft sector.
Also announced at Heli-Expo were Airbus Helicopters’ expanded services solutions, incorporating such elements as Level D full-flight simulators for the EC175,plus new and enhanced information services, the cloud-based helicopter maintenance information, and a standardization of services for helicopter upgrades.
The new EC175-which was certified in January for deliveries beginning later this year-logged 14 orders with announcements at Heli-Expo .Noordzee Helicopters Vlaanderen (NHV) ,a launch customer is adding six to its previous order for 10 of the mid-sized ,twin-engine helicopters ; Lease Corporation International (LCI) ,a new Airbus Helicopters customer, is acquiring up to six EC175s and CHI Aviation purchased two of the rotor craft.
As a versatile rotor craft with Airbus Helicopters’ new Helionix avionics suite, the EC175 is claimed to the industry’s benchmark medium-sized twin-engine helicopter for a variety of missions, including transport duties in oil and gas operations, corporate and executive transport, search and rescue, emergency medical services and public services. The EC145 T2, which is another new Airbus Helicopters rotor craft to enter service in 2014, expanded its order book by a 25-rotorcraft booking from Way point Leasing.
This latest-evolution member of the twin-engine EC145 family combines the company’s latest technologies, including an advanced cockpit design and modern Helionix avionics, four-axis autopilot and Airbus Helicopters’ signature Fenestron shrouded tail rotor. For the workhorse EC225 and the new EC225e, orders were announced for 27 helicopters .Way point Leasing gave an important vote of confidence ,placing an order for 12 of these high performance ,heavy twin-engine helicopters ,while Lease Corporation International booked as many as 15.
At Heli-Expo, Airbus Helicopters launched the enhanced EC225e Super Puma family version that features new Turbomeca Makila 2B turbo shaft engines, more payload, an additional fuel tank for very long range flights, a new cabin layout for improved passenger comfort and new systems to significantly increase pilot’s situational awareness while reducing workload.
Certification of the EC225e is targeted for late 2015, followed by the start-up of deliveries in mid-2016. Meanwhile, Pratt & Whitney Canada took advantage of the Heli-Expo to feature the PT6C-67E .Which powers the EC175.The power plant has been especially designed for the medium-sized twin market, and is equipped with the latest technology dual-channel FADEC control system to optimize pilot workload. The PT6C-67E also includes new technologies to provide reliable starting with excellent emissions, especially low Nox levels, and very low smoke.
After having technically supported the demo tour of the EC175 in the United States and Asia in 2013, Pratt & Whitney Canada (P& WC) is now putting additional effort into the entry into service of this helicopter by deploying the necessary technical support and services via its worldwide network of over P&WC –owned and designated service facilities and its extensive team of more than 100 field support representatives located close to the operators’ bases.
Airbus-SONAIR Milestone Aviation Group, a global leader in helicopter leasing, and SonAir, the largest African helicopter operator and a subsidiary of the Angolan national oil company Sonangol, have announced the initiation of a long-term partnership employing three Airbus Helicopter EC225s which are to join the SonAir oil and gas fleet in Angola.
Deliveries of the new EC225s are imminent with the helicopters joining Airbus Helicopters-built EC225, AS332 L2 and AS365 N3 rotor craft already in the SonAir fleet. The Milestone Aviation Group is headquartered
in Dublin, Ireland, and has concluded more than US $ 2-billion in lease transactions with customers that range from the largest global helicopter users to small-and-mid-sized operators. “SonAir is one of the world’s great helicopter operators, and Angola is an important and growing region for offshore oil and gas production,” said Milestone chairman and CEO, Richard Santulli.
The EC225 is Airbus Helicopters’ latest version in its Super Puma family, providing a high-performance rotor craft in the 10-11 metric ton category .This heavy twin-engine helicopter’s modern technologies ,excellent useful load, five-blade main rotor and low vibration levels make it an efficient solution for oil and gas missions-including offshore and passenger transport as well as search and rescue (SAR) operations.
Russian Helicopters The giant Russian Helicopters company, which is a subsidiary of Oboronprom, part of state Corporation Rostec, took advantage of Heli Expo 2014 to showcase its current model range alongside upcoming models. Two new models- the Mi-171A2 and Mi-38-were at the centre of the company’s display.
The Mi-17A2, the newest addition to the Mi-8/17 range, has been designed using the latest advances in aerospace technology, and incorporates more than 100 technological innovations. The helicopter was developed based on feedback from Mi-8/17 operators and draws on years of operational experience of these helicopters around the world. This approach means the Mi-17A2 is more economical and commercially profitable to run, which will help strengthen Russian Helicopters’ position as a leader in the medium-class helicopter segment.
The second new model, the multirole transport-and passenger-carrier Mi-38, can fly complex missions. Its spacious cabin, low levels of noise and vibrations and numerous innovations make the Mi-38 one of the most comfortable and safest helicopters in its class. It has a cruising speed of 160 knots and range of 650 nautical miles. Over 8000 helicopters of Soviet/Russian origin are operated in 110 countries worldwide. Traditionally the demand is highest in the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Russia, and CIS countries.
Vector Aerospace This company had a custom-modified integrated cockpit on display at Heli-Expo, which reduces pilot workload and provides improved features including maps, weather radar, maintenance page, and warning annunciations. The cockpit consists of two Sagem 10-inch MFD (EI indication) and two Sagem 10-inch PFDs for right or left hand seat operations, and is just one example of Vector’s full UH-1H upgrade capabilities.
Vector Aerospace’s comprehensive helicopter service portfolio includes: dynamic components, full-service avionics capability up to and including glass cockpit engineering, development and integration, complete development and integration, complete aircraft rewires, as well as airframes and major inspections support for a variety of Airbus, Sikorsky, Boeing and Bell helicopter models; Rolls-Royce M250; Rolls-Royce T56/501D ; Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T Series engines; Turbomeca Arriel 1 and Arriel 2 and General Electric T58/CT58 and CT-7A/T700 engines ( all engine lines include test capability).
Universal Avionics This company sees increased interest from Super Puma operators to support offshore operations and showcased its multi-mission management system retrofit programme for the helicopter type at the expo.
It says that requests for flight management systems (FMS) with mission support have increased recently, most notably among offshore and SAR operators of Airbus Helicopters’ AS332L and AS332L1 Super Puma models. Universal Avionics’ multi-mission management system (MMMS) is the company’s flagship special mission FMS for installation in these helicopter models.
These modifications were recently installed and are now operational on three CHC aircraft configured for offshore operations. They are said to provide unprecedented operational capabilities and deliver outstanding value to operators who need cutting-edge modifications and upgrades to support a wide range of critical missions.
Helicopter air charter flights is mostly used to islands,mountains,valleys, where there are no runways as the helicopter only needs an open area to land and takeoff. The helicopter can be used for search and rescue of mountain climbers, flooded areas to move people to high grounds and provide humanitarian aid and relief assistance.
Helicopter flights are segmented into VIP charter, private air taxi charter, and tourist’s flights, scenic flights, filming flights, air cargo charter flights, emergency evacuation charter flights and air ambulance. Anthony A Juma is the Editor and Director Commercial and Flights Operations at Wings Over Africa Aviation Limited.