Showing posts with label Helicopter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Helicopter. Show all posts

Thursday 7 December 2023

UK's Royal Navy Merlin Mk3s make day-long trip to Gibraltar

Merlin Mk3 helicopters of 846 Naval Air Squadron (NAS).
Deploying at short notice to locations across the globe is something all Commando Helicopter Force aircraft and personnel must be ready for.

So pilots, aircrew and engineers left their base at RNAS Yeovilton for a day-long journey to Gibraltar via France, Spain and Portugal with two of the green Merlin Mk3 helicopters of 846 Naval Air Squadron (NAS).

The Royal Marines flying wing was taking part in Exercise Barbary Commando 16, the aim of which is to train students from the Operational Conversion Flight and complete one of the final elements they need to become qualified Commando Merlin pilots and aircrew.

“This has been yet another first for the Commando Merlin,” said Detachment Commander Lieutenant Commander Alex Hampson.

“We have proved the utility of range and speed available with Merlin by deploying at short notice to an airfield over 1,400 flying miles away with just two stops for fuel in a single day.”

While in Gibraltar, the Junglie squadron also teamed up with the Gibraltar Boat Squadron for some winching training.

HMS Scimitar, her sister ship Sabre and three Pacific Rigid Inflatable Boats crewed by Royal Navy, Royal Marine and Royal Naval Reserve personnel together make up the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron.

Merlin Mk3 helicopters of 846 Naval Air Squadron (NAS).

Monday 4 December 2023

German Navy NH90 Sea Tiger performs maiden flight

NH90 Sea Tiger multi-role frigate helicopter
The first NH90 Sea Tiger took off on schedule for its maiden flight, at Airbus Helicopters' site in Donauwörth, Germany. The German Bundeswehr ordered 31 NH90 Sea Tiger multi-role frigate helicopters for the German Navy’s shipborne operations in 2020.

Airbus Helicopters is now entering a qualification phase that will focus on flight testing the helicopter and new systems to be installed on board the NH90 Sea Tiger. Deliveries are scheduled to begin at the end of 2025.

"We are proud to equip the German Navy with the NH90 Sea Tiger. Operating both the NH90 Sea Lion and the Sea Tiger will allow the Navy to further streamline its operations and maintenance," said Stefan Thomé, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters in Germany. "The NH90 Sea Lion, which is already in service with the Navy, has recently proven its capabilities during a first major rescue operation in the North Sea.”

The helicopters will replace the German Navy’s ageing Mk88A Sea Lynx fleet which entered into service in 1981. The Bundeswehr already operates 18 NH90 Sea Lion naval transport helicopters which were delivered on schedule between 2019 and 2023.

The Sea Tiger is the latest version of the proven NH90 NFH (Naval Version). It has been specifically designed to match the needs of the German Navy for a state of the art anti-submarine warfare helicopter. Novelties include a new Electro-Optical System and improved Electronic Support Measures (ESM). On top, the Sea Tiger is equipped with a dipping sonar, sonobuoys, and weapons (torpedoes and missiles). The shipborne Sea Tigers’ missions include, in addition to reconnaissance and transport, engaging targets above and below the surface.

Thursday 30 November 2023

Airbus and Norwegian Air Ambulance sign for H135 and H145 helicopters for HEMS in Denmark

The Norwegian Air Ambulance has ordered three H135s and two five-bladed H145s that will be used for life-saving missions in Denmark, following a tender the operator recently won in the country. Moreover, the HEMS operator will take delivery of two new H145s in 2024 to expand their fleet in Norway.

“I would like to thank the Norwegian Air Ambulance for its continued trust in our helicopters to support their essential life-saving missions,” said Thomas Hein, Head of Europe Region, Airbus Helicopters. “Our mission is to provide our operators with the best solutions possible, in order to make the world a safer place. Representing more than 1100 of the 2700 helicopters deployed for HEMS operations across the globe, it is a genuine source of pride to see that the H135 and the H145 are the benchmark for those missions worldwide, making a positive difference to people requiring urgent medical care. ”

“The H135 and the five-bladed H145 have proven to be very versatile and suitable helicopters for our HEMS operations,” said Leif Olstad, CEO of Norwegian Air Ambulance. “With the new helicopters we will continue to serve the people of Denmark and Norway with state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the best service possible.”

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Lithuanian State Border Guard Service orders three H145s

Lithuanian State Border Guard Service orders three H145s
Airbus Helicopters and the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service have announced a contract for three five-bladed H145 multi-mission helicopters at the 2023 European Rotors trade show, expanding the service's fleet. These three additional H145s bring the total number of Airbus helicopters in service with the Lithuanian government to eleven, further strengthening Airbus Helicopters’ position in this mission segment. The helicopters will be operated for a wide range of missions including search and rescue, disaster relief and medevac, border patrol, firefighting, transport of donor organs, and operational deployment of the Lithuanian Special Forces.

“We are allocating significant resources to provide our State Border Guard Service with state-of-the-art equipment such as the multi-mission H145 helicopters,” said Agné Bilotaité, the Lithuanian Minister of Interior. “Funded in part by the national budget and also thanks to European funding, the H145s will further strengthen the intelligence and response capabilities of our border guards and contribute to Lithuania’s security,” she added.

“We are honoured that the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service is placing its trust in Airbus Helicopters once again with the selection of the H145 as its next generation multi-role helicopter,” said Olivier Michalon, Executive Vice President Global Business for Airbus Helicopters. “Our partnership started in 2002 when the Lithuanian State Border Guard received their first EC120. Twenty-one years later, it is a privilege to support such a distinguished organisation and to contribute to essential security missions in order to protect and serve the population of Lithuania and to make Europe safer," he added.

There are more than 200 helicopters of the H145 helicopter family deployed to public services and law enforcement missions all around the world.

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Boeing shifts toward production of MH-139A Grey Wolf

Boeing continues to transition towards low rate initial production of the MH-139A Grey Wolf after completing the program’s Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) phase, delivering the sixth and final test aircraft to the U.S. Air Force last month.

“Delivering all of the RDT&E aircraft to the Air Force enables them to continue critical operational testing and allows Boeing to focus on building the first production aircraft.” said Azeem Khan, MH-139 program director. “The Grey Wolf will provide crucial national security capability improvements to the Air Force. This is an important step in getting the aircraft into service.”

Boeing expects to provide the first low rate production aircraft to the customer in 2024. To date, the Air Force has awarded Boeing a contract to build the first 13, with the first aircraft already in final assembly. Ultimately, Boeing will provide up to 80 MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters to the Air Force.

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Naval unmanned aerial system tested at sea from a French Navy frigate

Naval unmanned aerial system tested at sea from a French Navy frigate
Airbus Helicopters and Naval Group, in collaboration with the French Armament General Directorate, DGA (Direction génerale de l’armement), and the French Navy, have tested the SDAM demonstrator (Système de Drone Aérien Marine/ Naval Aerial Drone System) from a multi-mission frigate (FREMM). The trials took place on board the French Navy frigate, Provence in the Mediterranean Sea between the 2nd and the 9th of October. The vessel had previously been adapted by Naval Group to operate the SDAM. These sea trials were arranged to demonstrate the system’s high performance from an operational warship and the SDAM’s capabilities for surveillance and intelligence missions.

“We are proud to see that the SDAM and the VSR700 are maturing,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “The system that we will offer will be able to operate from a frigate and be adapted to the naval missions it was designed for," he added. “Working alongside Naval Group and other local partners we are building a robust and sovereign solution. I look forward to further demonstrating the potential of our system and to collaborating with the French Navy in order to  offer  an initial operational capability by 2026.”

“We are very happy with the success of these trials which mark a major step in the reinforcement of the French Navy's future capabilities. We have passed a significant milestone in terms of the complexity of the integration of an unmanned aerial system (UAS) on board a heavily armed vessel, both physically and operationally,” said Pierre-Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group. “These trials have also shown the relevance of the Naval Group I4Drones® mission system, and the fact that the SDAM demonstrator can seamlessly be integrated on a vessel and will work harmoniously with other existing systems. In synergy with the ship’s combat system and the embarked helicopter, the drone will be another means to access complementary airspaces and will truly be a remote sensor that will expand the crew’s perception and treatment of threats in real time.”

The derisking study for the SDAM programme was awarded to Airbus Helicopters and Naval Group by the DGA. The objective is to design, produce and test a rotary wing unmanned aerial system demonstrator for the French Navy. The system works with the Airbus Helicopters VSR700 unmanned aerial system and the I4Drones® mission system developed by Naval Group. Naval Group has also been tasked with the integration of the system onboard military vessels. The project also involves French SMEs like Hélicoptères Guimbal and Diades, contributing to the creation of a local naval UAS industry in France.

Tuesday 10 October 2023

Airbus Helicopters pioneers user-friendly ways to fly eVTOLs

Airbus Helicopters' demonstrator FlightLab  has  successfully tested an electric flight control system in preparation of a new human machine interface (HMI) that will equip CityAirbus NextGen, Airbus’ eVTOL prototype. This milestone represents an important step towards ushering in a new generation of electric powered urban air mobility aircraft. 

The pilot controls have been considerably simplified thanks to the enhanced piloting assistance provided by the electric flight control system. Marking a first in the helicopter industry, one single piloting stick replaces the three conventional pilot controls (cyclic, pedals, collective) and is able to control all aircraft axes. Using the single stick, the pilot is able to perform all maneuvers: take-off & landing, climb, descent, acceleration, deceleration, turn, and approach.

The single stick takes up less space, offers improved visibility to the pilot and is combined with a revised HMI which uses simple displays, providing a selection of information specifically tailored to eVTOLs.

“From the start, we designed this system considering every certification parameter in mind as it will be a big step forward in validating the design of our urban air mobility eVTOL, CityAirbus NextGen. The advantage of an electric flight control system is enormous, especially when it comes to reducing pilot workload and ultimately enhancing mission safety. It is also a great example of how our demonstrators are used to mature the techno-bricks necessary to prepare the future of vertical flight,” says Tomasz Krysisnki, Head of Research & Innovation at Airbus Helicopters.

After the success of the flight test campaign Airbus Helicopters is working on finalising the details of this new system before new tests are conducted in the framework of Vertex, a project conducted in partnership with Airbus UpNext that will advance autonomy even further by managing navigation and simplifying mission preparation.

Airbus has been one of the pioneers in exploring how electric propulsion can help drive the development of new kinds of aerial vehicles. In September 2021, the company unveiled its fully electric eVTOL prototype, CityAirbus NextGen. Airbus is developing an advanced air mobility solution with eVTOLs, not only to offer a new mobility service, but also as an important step in its mission to reduce emissions in aviation across its product range.

Thursday 5 October 2023

Rain and Sikorsky Collaborate to Advance Rapid Response Capabilities for Aerial Wildland Firefighting

The two companies will demonstrate how an uncrewed BLACK HAWK® helicopter with Rain’s Wildfire Mission Autonomy System could respond rapidly to suppress incipient wildfires.

-Rain, a leader in aerial wildfire containment technology, and Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, announced this week at the UP.Summit a collaboration to explore how Sikorsky’s MATRIX™ autonomy suite operating with Rain’s Wildfire Mission Autonomy System can launch uncrewed helicopters to drop water on wildfires within minutes of detection.

“Combining Sikorsky’s demonstrated mature vehicle autonomy system with Rain’s early response capability will show how an uncrewed BLACK HAWK® or FIREHAWK® helicopter can quickly take off, fly to a suspected ignition, and drop water to suppress a wildfire in its incipient stage with no human onboard,” said Rain CEO Maxwell Brodie. ”Ultimately, Rain envisions equipping fire agencies with the capability to strategically position a future fleet of firefighting aircraft capable of receiving and carrying out mission commands.”

This collaborative effort will use Rain's Wildfire Mission Autonomy System to upload mission commands to Sikorsky’s Optionally Piloted BLACK HAWK helicopter with no crew on board for the fastest response time.

Brodie pointed to research showing that a 15-minute reduction in wildfire response times could generate $3.5 to $8.2 billion in economic benefits annually for the state of California alone.

Developed for more than a dozen years by Sikorsky Innovations, an advanced engineering group within Sikorsky, the MATRIX system combines a platform-agnostic software and hardware suite, including sensors, to ensure an aircraft flown with reduced crew or uninhabited can fly reliably and safely in low-level and obstacle-rich terrain. Even with no humans on board, an aircraft with the MATRIX system does not require a remote pilot or ground controller to command the mission via datalink, nor waypoints to navigate.

Saturday 30 September 2023

RAF Chinook helps with massive Kiwi restoration...

RAF Odiham big Kiwi lift

Earlier this week, a Chinook from RAF Odiham, supported the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) with the restoration of the chalk Kiwi carved into a hillside in Bulford, Wiltshire.

Aerial view of the hillside chalk kiwi on the right

A Chinook belonging to 18(B) Sqn from RAF Odiham used a training sortie to enable the restoration of the chalk Kiwi through a series of underslung loads. The historic site was created by New Zealand (NZ) soldiers, who were based in the UK in 1919. It was created to commemorate the NZ soldiers’ achievements during the First World War.

Back of the head of the New Zealand pilot as he flies the chinook, his New Zealand patch evident on the back of his flight helmet. 

This part of the longer training sortie offered a different perspective for all involved. The Chinook was operated by two pilots and one of them was a NZ exchange Pilot, Flt Lt James Patrick, “JP” as he is known to his friends, who was delighted to be part of this sortie.  JP has been in the UK for over two years and has already represented NZ as he was part of the formation flypast for HMTQ Platinum Jubilee flying the Chinook.

“JP has been with the Squadron for 18 months now. A superb individual, he brings a wealth of instructional experience to the Chinook Force and has already deployed alongside NATO partners on operations.”

Wing Commander T Carter
Officer Commanding 18(B) Sqn

This task is an excellent opportunity for the Chinook Force to increase its expertise with novel underslung loads. A core skill, it is used regularly on worldwide operations as well as National Support tasks.

Chinook flying overhead with the chalk load under slung

The Chinook lift capability with its two Honeywell turboshaft engines can deliver 55 Troops or 10 tons of freight, flying up to 160 Knots. So the chalk that was underslung for this task was given to the right aircraft. JP said:

"It was a great honour to be at the controls, delivering to such a historic site and being part of something that is part of my history."

The NZ High Commissioner and NZ Defence Force were also in attendance at the “Kiwi” alongside several DIO and Army units, including Joint Helicopter Support Squadron (JHSS), who prepared the chalk to be underslung and monitored the release at the site.

Military personnel and others, spread the chalk over the site to restore the Kiwi. 

Monday 25 September 2023

Airbus unveils PioneerLab as its new twin-engine flying laboratory

During the German National Aviation Conference in Hamburg, Airbus Helicopters unveiled the PioneerLab, its new twin-engine technology demonstrator based on the H145 platform. It complements Airbus' range of FlightLabs and focuses on testing technologies that reduce helicopter emissions, increase autonomy and integrate bio-based materials.

"With PioneerLab, we continue our ambitious strategy to test and mature new technologies on board our helicopter demonstrators," said Tomasz Krysinski, Head of Research and Innovation Programmes at Airbus Helicopters. "PioneerLab, which is based in Germany at our Donauwörth site, will be our platform to test technologies specifically dedicated to twin-engine helicopters."

The PioneerLab aims to demonstrate a fuel reduction of up to 30% compared to a conventional H145, thanks to a hybrid electric propulsion system and aerodynamic improvements. Aboard the demonstrator, Airbus Helicopters will also flight-test structural components made from bio-based and recycled materials, which aim to reduce the environmental footprint across the entire aircraft life cycle. The company intends to produce the new parts using processes that reduce material and energy consumption and improve recyclability. Further research activities will include the integration of the latest digital technologies into the aircraft's flight control system and associated sensors to increase autonomy and safety during critical flight phases such as take-off and landing.

PioneerLab is partially co-funded by the BMWK, the Federal German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Actions through its national research program LuFo. Airbus Helicopters’ FlightLabs provide agile and efficient test beds to quickly test technologies. They are part of the company's strategy to bring incremental innovation to improve its current products and as well as to mature technology for future platforms.

The PioneerLab’s flight campaign has already begun at the manufacturer's largest German site in Donauwörth, with a rotor strike alerting system being the first techno-brick tested on board the demonstrator. The next phase will be to test an automated take-off and landing system.

Wednesday 13 September 2023

Airbus Helicopters and PHI sign for 20 H175 and 8 H160 helicopters

Airbus Helicopters and PHI sign for 20 H175 and 8 H160 helicopters

PHI has been supporting the energy industry for 74 years. Today, PHI operates over 200 helicopters across the globe serving a number of markets, including energy and air medical.  PHI’s Airbus fleet consists of H125, H135, H145, H160 and H175 family helicopters - with the H175 being the latest addition.
Airbus Helicopters and PHI Group (PHI) have signed a framework agreement that includes commitments for 20 super-medium H175 helicopters and 8 H160s to serve the energy market worldwide, including in the US. These 28 state-of-the-art helicopters will better position PHI to respond to the energy market’s expected growing offshore transportation needs.These commitments are composed of firm orders as well as purchase options that PHI may exercise during the course of the framework agreement.

“PHI strives to lead the industry in operating the safest and most reliable fleet of helicopters.  This agreement is a component of our broader strategy to bring new technology into an industry that has experienced a strong rebound after years of underinvestment.  We look forward to our continued partnership with Airbus as we prepare to enter these aircraft into service with our customers around the world,” said Scott McCarty, CEO of PHI Group.

"We are proud of our ongoing partnership with PHI, a company recognized in the industry for its leadership in innovation and safety. We thank them for renewing their confidence in the H160 and for adding the H175, for their long-range missions, to their growing fleet. At a time when passenger safety, economic competitiveness, and energy efficiency are key to conquering any market, the H160 and the H175 are reliable options for the years to come and we look forward to supporting their operations worldwide,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. 

PHI has been supporting the energy industry for 74 years. Today, PHI operates over 200 helicopters across the globe serving a number of markets, including energy and air medical.  PHI’s Airbus fleet consists of H125, H135, H145, H160 and H175 family helicopters - with the H175 being the latest addition.

In service since 2015, Airbus' H175 belongs to the super-medium class of helicopters, combining long-range with smooth flight qualities, making it the perfect solution for several mission profiles, including offshore crew change, public services, and  private and business aviation. 54 H175s currently in service have accumulated around 195,000 flight hours, of which 170,000 are flying for the energy sector.

Designed as a multi-role helicopter capable of performing a wide range of missions, the H160 integrates Airbus' latest technological innovations. With its light maintenance plan, the H160 optimises operating costs and offers a new standard in availability. The helicopter is powered by two of the latest Arrano engines from Safran Helicopter Engines that offer a 15% reduction in fuel burn. Both the H175 and H160 are already certified to fly with as much as 50% sustainable aviation fuel.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Leicester City Football Club helicopter disaster...... an accident just waiting to happen. AAIB Report published.

It was nearly 7:40 in the evening of 27th October 2018 when a Leonardo AW169 helicopter lifted off from the pitch at the King Power Stadium, the home of Leicester City Football Club. The helicopter, registration G-VSKP was made in July 2016 and was carrying five people.  The helicopter moved forward and started to climb up and out of the football stadium on a rearward flight path.

As the helicopter passed around 250 feet, the 53-year-old experienced pilot transitioned to forward flight, pitching the nose down and the landing gear retracted.  The helicopter started to turn right and then more so, despite the pilot applying immediate corrective inputs.  The blue and white helicopter reached a height of around 430 feet ft before descending with a high rotation rate and the pilot tried to recover normal flight. 

The helicopter struck the ground on a stepped concrete surface, coming to rest on its left side. The impact with the ground damaged the lower fuselage and the helicopter’s fuel tanks which caused a big fuel leak. This fuel ignited shortly after the helicopter came to rest and an intense post-impact fire rapidly engulfed the fuselage.  All five people in the helicopter perished in the disaster.  

The full Air Accidents Investigation Branch report into the accident has now been published and makes stark reading for the helicopter manufacturer. The report indicates that those onboard experienced a deceleration force exceeding 30 g when the helicopter hit the ground and all the occupants suffered significant impact injuries; for one person, these were likely to have been fatal.

First responders arrived at the accident site within one minute of the helicopter striking the ground and they attempted to gain access to the cockpit and cabin. However, as the helicopter was on its side, the strength of the cockpit windscreen combined with the rapid increase in the power of the fire, they were unable to get in.  The helicopter was rapidly engulfed by fire and the occupants who survived the initial impact, the AAIB report says, died from inhaling the products of combustion.

One of the conclusions of the investigation found that in simulator trials confirmed to the investigation that the loss of yaw control was irrecoverable.

This crash tragically took the lives of all five on board: the then Leicester City owner and Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, pilots Eric Swaffer and Izabela Roza Lechowicz, as well as Kaveporn Punpare and Nusara Suknamai. 

The AAIB was able to identify the source of the catastrophic failure and crash which was that a critical duplex bearing, which connected the control shaft running along the length of the tail to the rotor blades, seized. This seizure of the bearing was the result of fatigue, cracking, pitting, shearing, friction, grease degradation and heat generation. 

The AAIB report lists a number of causal factors for this crash, including:

Seizure of the tail rotor duplex bearing initiated a sequence of failures in the tail rotor pitch control mechanism which culminated in the unrecoverable loss of control of the tail rotor blade pitch angle and the blades moving to their physical limit of travel.

The unopposed main rotor torque couple and negative tail rotor blade pitch angle resulted in an increasing rate of rotation of the helicopter in yaw, which induced pitch and roll deviations and made effective control of the helicopter’s flightpath impossible.

The tail rotor duplex bearing likely experienced a combination of dynamic axial and bending moment loads which generated internal contact pressures sufficient to result in lubrication breakdown and the balls sliding across the race surface. This caused premature, surface initiated rolling contact fatigue damage to accumulate until the bearing seized.

There are a number of issues arising from the report involving the manufacturer Leonardo, including the inactions listed below, leading to the bearing seizure and tragic crash: 

Not sharing critical flight test results with the company which made the duplex bearing, in order to confirm that the bearing that they had chosen was actually suitable for use in the tail rotor. Had Leonardo shared the results, the bearing may not have been chosen. 

Not requiring the routine inspection of critical parts removed from service (such as the duplex bearing) to confirm that they were in the condition that they expected them to be in based on their design. Had Leonardo done so, they would have found that the bearings were more damaged than expected and ought to have concluded that they needed to change their original design. 

Not fully considering possible risk reduction and mitigation measures for the duplex bearing – which had been identified as a critical component by Leonardo during the design phase. It was recognised by Leonardo, the report notes, that if the bearing failed it could lead to the death of multiple occupants onboard. Had they included one of those mitigation measures, simply changing the thread direction of a key component, it is likely that the severity of the accident would have been reduced.  

Former Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha purchased what he believed to be a state-of-the-art helicopter. Leonardo’s non-performance of key measures, raises serious questions about the safety of the company’s aircraft. 

Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, who lost his father, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, commented: "I am deeply saddened by the course of events. Almost five years after my father’s passing, this report provides concerning evidence against Leonardo. My father trusted that he had bought a safe helicopter from a world-renowned manufacturer. Had he known what we know now he would never have risked his life in this machine. The pain this causes me and my family is immeasurable and as a family, we continue to struggle every day with our grief at the loss of my father. He was a great inspiration to me personally and we all loved him very much.” 

The families of three of those lost in the crash – Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Eric Swaffer, and Izabela Lechowicz – have retained leading litigation specialists’ Stewarts. The family of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha are now considering their legal recourse against Leonardo. Litigation has already been commenced in Italy on behalf of the families of Eric and Izabela.   

Eric and Izabela were life partners and soulmates. Both were recognised and highly respected throughout the global aviation industry for their exemplary piloting skills. Both were also qualified instructors and examiners on a range of aircraft. Eric spent most of his career lobbying and advising on matters of safety in the rotary wing industry.  

The report confirmed there was nothing either Eric or Izabela could have done to prevent this disaster, it stresses that effective control of the aircraft was impossible following the loss of the tail rotor. For the families, it has been important for the memories of Izabela and particularly Eric, who was piloting the helicopter, to have been cleared of any possible implication in the accident. 

Deborah Sutton, mother of Eric Swaffer said:  "This of course is every mother’s worst nightmare and time is not healing. Eric and Izabela were an inseparable couple, devoted to each other and to their flying. Without them there is an enormous hole in our lives. I think of them daily and miss them more than I can say.” 

Peter Neenan, a partner in the aviation team at Stewarts, said:   “This report is a frightening tale of missed opportunities.  

The report confirms that the helicopter manufacturer, Leonardo, did not accurately model the forces affecting the helicopter during their design, did not provide the right information to the bearing manufacturer, did not then measure the forces actually affecting the helicopter, did not involve the bearing manufacturer to validate their assumptions despite not having the software needed to model the forces on the bearing, did not implement a routine inspection requirement for these bearings to identify and replace them during their degeneration prior to any risk of seizure and did not require discarded bearings to be examined to see whether their design assumptions were valid.  

This was all done in circumstances where Leonardo had recognised that the duplex bearing was a critical component and that the failure of this component could be catastrophic for the helicopter and likely to result in the death of those onboard. 

Nevertheless, and despite that concerning warning, they then also did not implement sufficient mitigation measures within the wider tail rotor control system to avoid a catastrophic loss of control of the helicopter from such a failure. Some of those measures would have been as simple as changing the thread direction on component parts, a measure that they had already implemented for an earlier variant of this helicopter, the AW139."  


Thursday 24 August 2023

Bristow's wins 10 year contract to provide eight aircraft Irish Coast Guard Aviation Service

                                   Bristow Ireland Limited has signed a contract with the Irish Department of Transport for the provision of rotary and fixed-wing aviation services for the Irish Coast Guard.

Bristow will begin transitioning to the new contract in the fourth quarter of 2024. The Company will operate six specialised SAR-configured AW189 helicopters from four dedicated bases in Sligo, Shannon, Waterford, and Dublin Weston. The AW189s will be configured with the latest evolution of mission system reflecting the requirements of the Irish Coast Guard.

In an expansion to the current service for the Irish Coast Guard, two specialized King Air fixed-wing aircraft will provide operational support from Shannon Airport for search and rescue and environmental monitoring. The fixed-wing element of the service will also provide highly sophisticated aircraft mission management and communications systems (in coordination with the helicopter fleet). The fixed-wing aircraft will also be available to provide 'Top Cover' support to helicopters engaged in long-range medical evacuations.

Bristow will deliver nationwide all-weather 24-hour coverage, 365 days a year. Under the new contract, Bristow will create or sustain more than 150 jobs ranging from specialist ground support, engineering, flight operations, and in-country maintenance and support capabilities, ensuring its teams and aircraft stand at full readiness to respond to tasking from the Irish Coast Guard.

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Bristow Ireland Limited signs contract with Irish Department of Transport to deliver search and rescue (SAR) aviation services on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard

                                   Bristow Ireland Limited, a subsidiary of Bristow Group Inc. the leading global provider of innovative and sustainable vertical flight solutions, has signed a contract with the Irish Department of Transport for the provision of rotary and fixed-wing aviation services for the Irish Coast Guard.

Bristow will begin transitioning to the new contract in the fourth quarter of 2024. The Company will operate six specialised SAR-configured AW189 helicopters from four dedicated bases in Sligo, Shannon, Waterford, and Dublin Weston. The AW189s will be configured with the latest evolution of mission system reflecting the requirements of the Irish Coast Guard.

In an expansion to the current service for the Irish Coast Guard, two specialized King Air fixed-wing aircraft will provide operational support from Shannon Airport for search and rescue and environmental monitoring. The fixed-wing element of the service will also provide highly sophisticated aircraft mission management and communications systems (in coordination with the helicopter fleet). The fixed-wing aircraft will also be available to provide 'Top Cover' support to helicopters engaged in long range medical evacuations.

Bristow will deliver nationwide all-weather 24-hour coverage, 365 days a year. Under the new contract, Bristow will create or sustain more than 150 jobs ranging from specialist ground support, engineering, flight operations, and in-country maintenance and support capabilities, ensuring its teams and aircraft stand at full readiness to respond to tasking from the Irish Coast Guard.

Monday 24 July 2023

First two H225M helicopters delivered to Hungary

The Hungarian Defence Forces have received the first two of 16 H225M multi-purpose helicopters on schedule.

The Hungarian Defence Forces have received the first two of 16 H225M multi-purpose helicopters on schedule. The helicopter was officially handed over at Szolnok Airbase by Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters.

“I am very happy that we have delivered the first H225Ms to Hungary today,” said Bruno Even. “The Defence Forces are receiving a combat-proven, multi-role platform, which is the latest version of a very successful helicopter family. Together with the light twin engine H145M, which is already in operation, Hungary now has a modern helicopter fleet that can fly a broad range of military missions, and we are proud that they decided our helicopters were the right choice for their extremely important operations.”

Additionally, Airbus is also providing an extensive training and support package to ensure the highest level of operational availability.

Thursday 20 July 2023

Airbus Helicopters H175 granted CAAC certification

Airbus Helicopters H175 granted CAAC certification

Airbus Helicopters has received certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for the H175 helicopter.

This certification will allow H175 deliveries to begin in China, one of the most demanding markets worldwide for civil helicopters with a growing need for the super-medium segment. Four H175s will be delivered to Chinese customers in 2023.

“The Chinese certification of the H175 is another great achievement in the continued successful partnership between Airbus Helicopters and the Chinese helicopter industry,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters.

“The H175’s advanced state-of-the art performances and reliability will serve to provide the people of China with the ability to perform critical life-saving missions even in the most severe conditions”, he added.

To sustain the helicopter market growth in China, Airbus Helicopters is committed to jointly work with the Chinese industry to develop the Chinese civil market with  products such as the H175, aiming to serve the interests of the Chinese people and the economy. In service since 2015, Airbus' H175 belongs to the super-medium class of helicopters. Combining long-range with advanced quality of flight, it provides the best solution for a number of missions, including offshore crew change, SAR, all public services, and private and business aviation. The 53 H175s currently in service have accumulated over 185,000 flight hours in 13 countries.

Saturday 1 July 2023

Airbus Helicopters H160 granted FAA certification

Airbus Helicopters has received certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the H160 helicopter, marking a significant milestone in the aircraft's development and positioning it for entry into the U.S. market.

"We are pleased to receive FAA certification for the H160, which is testament to many years of hard work and commitment from our teams in order to deliver this multirole helicopter to the customers in North America who have already placed their trust in the H160," said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. "This aircraft features the highest level of innovation and we are confident that its advanced capabilities, along with our strong customer support network, will solidify its position as the preferred choice for customers in the U.S."

The H160 is a revolutionary medium-class rotorcraft that sets a new benchmark in terms of safety, comfort, and environmental performance. It features cutting-edge technologies, including noise-reducing Blue Edge rotor blades, a canted Fenestron tail rotor for greater useful load, and Airbus Helicopters’ Helionix avionics suite for reduced pilot workload.

The H160 previously received certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in July 2020 and has proven to be a popular choice for customers across the globe. Airbus Helicopters has received orders for more than 100 H160s from customers around the world, including more than a dozen from U.S. customers. The H160 has entered service in Japan, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Europe and the fleet has accumulated more than 1700 flight hours.

Friday 30 June 2023

Loft Dynamics VR Flight Simulator acquired by Blackcomb Helicopters to enhance operations

Loft Dynamics Expands to Canada 
Leading Helicopter Company in Pacific Northwest 
Loft Dynamics' H125 Simulator to Advance Safety, Sustainability, and Growth Initiatives

Loft Dynamics AG - formerly VRM Switzerland, a market-leading company specializing in VR (virtual reality) training devices for helicopter pilots, today announced its expansion to Canada and a first-of-its-kind partnership with Blackcomb Helicopters LP. As the leading helicopter tour and utility company in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada, Blackcomb Helicopters will leverage Loft Dynamics' simulator to increase its flight training capabilities while also removing the inherent safety risks and the carbon emissions of in-flight training. Both companies will work closely with Transport Canada to demonstrate the technology's national safety and training value.

Blackcomb Helicopters will operate Loft Dynamics' VR Airbus H125 training device at its Boundary Bay Airport location in Metro Vancouver. The simulator, developed in collaboration with Airbus Helicopters, is an exact replica of the Airbus H125 helicopter—the most widely used aircraft by both Airbus Helicopters and Blackcomb Helicopters. Equipped with a 3D high-resolution panoramic view, dynamic six-degrees-of-motion platform, and full-replica cockpit featuring a unique pose tracking system, the simulator offers realistic and intuitive operation. It is the world's first and only qualified VR flight simulation training device (FSTD), enabling pilots to complete proficiency checks, periodic H125 flight training, and operational check rides.

"Our pilots regularly navigate challenging coastal and mountainous conditions, but adequately training for these scenarios is inherently dangerous," said Chris Haslock, Blackcomb's Director of Operations. "With Loft Dynamics' simulators, we're able to customize weather conditions, visual cues, and landscapes based on what is typically encountered, so it's the exact in-flight experience without compromising safety and with zero carbon emissions. It's a complete game-changer."

Thursday 22 June 2023

The Triumph Group selected to design and build key part for Piasecki Aircraft's PA-890 eVTOL compound helicopter

The Triumph Group's Geared Solutions business has been selected by Piasecki Aircraft Corporation (PiAC) to design and build a prototype main transmission for PiAC's hydrogen-powered PA-890 eVTOL compound helicopter. This project will begin this summer at TRIUMPH Geared Solutions in Park City, UT.

"Through innovative development of the main transmission for the next generation of sustainably fueled aircraft, our team of experienced design engineers will collaborate with Piasecki to support the breakthrough PA-890 aircraft," said Pete Gibson, President of TRIUMPH Geared Solutions.  "This prototype will incorporate additive technology advancements and TRIUMPH's agile and flexible approach to the design process."

"We selected the TRIUMPH Geared Solutions team for this project based on their extensive experience in gearbox design, development, and their ability to implement innovative manufacturing approaches," said John Piasecki, President & CEO of PiAC. "TRIUMPH's collaborative approach to development was a critical factor in our selection of them to jointly develop a main transmission prototype for the PA-890's hydrogen-electric propulsion system."

TRIUMPH Geared Solutions specializes in the design and manufacture of commercial & defence complex aerospace gearing components, integrated gearboxes and housings for fixed wing, rotorcraft, aircraft engine and ground vehicle applications.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Royal Canadian Air Force CH-147F Chinook helicopter crashes

A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-147F Chinook helicopter crashed in the Ottawa River in the early hours of Tuesday, June 20th. Following a search, the RCAF confirmed today that two crew members onboard did not survive the incident. The names of the deceased individuals are not being released at the request of their families.

The two members were amongst a total crew of four who were on the 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron aircraft at the time of the accident. The other two members of the crew were found by Garrison Petawawa firefighters earlier and taken to hospital in Pembroke with minor injuries shortly after the crash. Both have since been released and are being monitored by Canadian Armed Forces medical personnel. The full range of support is being provided to the families of the two deceased members, the two surviving air crew members and their families, and to the members of 450 Squadron and Garrison Petawawa at this difficult time.

The RCAF’s Directorate of Flight Safety is conducting an investigation into the accident to determine the cause. 

The Honorable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence said: "I join all Canadians in mourning the loss of two Royal Canadian Air Force members from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. These brave Canadian Armed Forces members served Canada with honour, dedication, and immeasurable courage. I extend my deepest condolences to their loved ones. I also send my prayers to the two members injured in the crash, who are now recovering. We are with you.”

General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff said “It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of these two members. They served with honour, proudly devoting their lives to Canada with tremendous professionalism and selfless service. Their loss is devastating, and we stand in grief with their families, friends, and teammates during this time of great sorrow. Our thoughts and prayers are also with our members who were injured in this tragic accident, and we wish them a quick recovery. On behalf of all members of the armed forces, the Canadian Armed Forces Chief Warrant Officer and I offer our deepest condolences to the loved ones of our fallen.”

Lieutenant-General Eric Kenny, Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force commented: “The hearts of Royal Canadian Air Force members are heavy with the news from Garrison Petawawa about the loss of two members from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.  There are no words to describe a loss as tragic as this. On behalf of the entire Air Force family, Chief Warrant Officer Hall and I offer our deepest condolences and support to the families, friends and loved ones of all those affected by this accident.”

The search for the stricken helicopter was supported by approximately 110 Canadian Armed Forces members on the shore and on the water; including divers from 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, as well as CC-130J Hercules and CH-146 Griffon aircraft from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, and 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron. An Ontario Provincial Police marine and dive unit, and Petawawa and Pembroke fire departments, also supported search efforts.