Farnborough Air Show 2018 at a glance: helicopters


Here is a roundup of rotary wing news from the Farnborough Air Show that took place between 16 and 22 July.

Canada is still evaluating potential enhancements for its fleet of Leonardo Helicopters CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue rotorcraft, with a delegation present at Farnborough as part of the process. The CH-149 is the local designation for Leonardo’s AW101. The airframer has a SAR-roled example on its Farnborough display, part of a 16-unit order for Norway. Canadian officials toured the AW101 at the UK show, as they consider their options for the CH-149 modernization.

Having been selected in 2015 under the UH-X contest to replace the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force’s current fleet of UH-1J troop transports with 150 locally-manufactured helicopters, Bell and Subaru unveiled the 412EPX commercial helicopter on which they have also decided to partner. The UH-X will be a militarized version of the 412-EPX. Deliveries should begin in 2022.

Bell CEO Mitch Snyder said the rotor system that will equip its 453kg (1,000lb) future urban air mobility vehicle will soon be revealed. “We have actually tested enough systems in the lab to know what we are going to do with that vehicle,” he said. Entry in service is expected for 2020.

Bell CEO Mitch Snyder told reporters that the company is marketing the 505 commercial helicopter as a low-cost trainer for military applications, but not in the US. It will not be offered for the expected upcoming American Navy training rotorcraft program. The 505 has 125 knots cruising speed and a load capacity of 680kg (1500 pounds) and is designed to carry five passengers.

The U.S. Air Force’s contract for a replacement to the UH-1N Huey helicopter could be delayed until fiscal 2020 unless Congress adds another $83.4mn to the program. According to a reprogramming request sent by the Defense Department to Congress, the UH-1N replacement effort is currently considered a “high risk” program due to a pre-award protest by competitor Sikorsky which was dismissed in May.

Bell, revenues were up $6mn to $831mn, higher commercial volume, 57 helicopters, up from 21 in last year’s second quarter, partially offset by lower military revenues. Segment profit increased $5 million from the second quarter in 2017 to $117mn. Scoot Denali explained this impressive 14% margin “we see these revenue increases and we see the benefit frankly of some better end markets in some of these new product launches, it does become a bit of a tailwind for us in terms of overall margin rates.” Backlog in the segment was $5.5bn at the end of the quarter.

Boeing has launched a new organization that will consolidate advanced development work on a wide range of potentially disruptive products, starting with a new multi-modal transportation network within cities for passengers and cargo. Boeing NeXt, led by Boeing vice-president Steve Nordlund, is the company’s answer to the rise of a crop of start-up companies around the world that are attempting to revolutionize mobility within cities with a new class of flying air taxi vehicles, which often feature electric and distributed propulsion systems with varying levels of autonomous control.

Sikorsky plans a 2019 launch for a number of undisclosed upgrade packages for its S-92 heavy helicopter, which could include uprated engines. Upgrades would help to lift orders and provide better value for existing operators, it believes. Nathalie Previte, VP Strategy and Business Development, says any enhancements would offer “better performance, range and payload”, as well as reduced operating costs.

Lockheed’s Sikorsky announced the sale of an S-76D to the Government of Maharashtra in India for multimission requirements “ranging from Naval and Coast Guard operations to Executive Transport”. VIP options for the S-76D include seats for 5 to 8 people. This is the first sale of a S-76D in India, while over thirty have be destined in the Indo-Pacific region overall.

Turkish Aerospace is confident of more international sales for its T129 attack helicopter, given the demanding process that Pakistan put the rotorcraft through prior to its recent 30 aircraft order. A schedule has yet to be set for deliveries as there remain export license formalities that need to be sorted out with the Turkish and Italian defense ministries, said Gorkem Bilgi, corporate marketing manager at Turkish Aerospace. The T129 is in the interest of Morocco, Thailand, and Bangladesh.

Airbus is among those Boeing has talked to about joining in its bid for a €4bn heavy-lift helicopter contract in Germany, reports Reuters. “We are still in talks with other companies, Airbus included, and we continue to strengthen the team that we’ve put in place,” says Gene Cunningham, head of business development for Boeing’s defense operation. He notes Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook is already being used by some of Germany’s NATO allies.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force on July 14 made a deal with Boeing for sustainment and spare parts to the service’s AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The performance-based logistics contract will provide maintenance, repair and overhaul services to the Air Force’s fleet of Apaches and Chinooks, which includes 28 AH-64Ds, 11 CH-47Ds and 6 CH-47Fs. It also covers some upfront buys of materials, obsolescence support for the Apache fleet and a Chinook modification program to transition the CH-47Ds to “F” models, Boeing said in a statement.

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has praised the increased capability and reliability that the Sikorsky S-92 search and rescue (SAR) helicopter has provided since it replaced the military’s Westland Sea Kings in 2015. “There is no fall back any longer, now that the military has gone from search and rescue. The MCA is the largest operator of aviation in the UK outside of the Ministry of Defense,” Damian Oliver, MCA aviation program director, said, adding: “The S-92 is showing close to 100% availability at each of its [six] operating locations.”

Rolls-Royce has unveiled the propulsion side of an electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) concept, which the company said could be used from personal transport through to military applications. The vehicle would be able to seat four or five people and would use a M250 gas turbine engine to power six low-noise electric propellers, as well as charge a battery.

Written by ADIT – The Bulletin and republished with permission.