Paris Air Show rotary wing roundup


Here are details of rotary wing orders and announcements made during the 2017 Paris Air Show last week.

Airbus Helicopters unveiled the aerodynamic configuration of the Racer (Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft), its new high-speed compound rotorcraft. This demonstrator will be optimized for a cruise speed of more than 400 km/h and will incorporate a host of innovative features. The box-wing design (positioned on the aft fuselage) with propellers is generating more lift and the up-and-over configuration allows the wing surface to be doubled, preserving low-speed hover performance. The project is being developed as part of the European CleanSky 2 initiative and rotors will be powered by two RTM332 engines. Final assembly of the demonstrator is expected to start in 2019 with a 1st flight in 2018.

The Japanese coast guard signed a deal for three Airbus Helicopters H225s that will be used for security enforcement, coastal activities and disaster relief missions. By February 2020 the coast guard’s fleet will comprise nine H225s. Meanwhile, the Tokyo Police ordered one H215 to be delivered in 2020. The delivery will occur before the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in order to transport VIPs, materials and other support missions.

Airbus Helicopters recently started autonomous flight trials of the optionally piloted VSR700 demonstrator in anticipation of the first flight of the actual VSR700 prototype in 2018. The VSR700 is based on the Helicopteres Guimbal Cabri G2 and is intended to be a rotary-wing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle. “Passing this first step of autonomous flights with a safety pilot onboard allows us to validate the integration of Airbus Helicopters’ flight control system with the aerial vehicle and its specific engine installation,” said Helicopteres Guimbal president and CEO Bruno Guimbal.

The European Commission approved €377 million of support to the Airbus Group for the X6 new heavy helicopter programme, of which €330 million will be provided by France and €47.25 million by Germany. The X6 is described as a successor to the Super Puma.

Boeing hopes that the US Navy will award the company a third multiyear contract for the V-22 Osprey. This would buy the program of record for the Navy whose current procurement objective is 461 Ospreys including 360 MV-22 US Marine Corps aircraft, 48 US Navy aircraft and 53 CV-22 USAF Special Operations Command aircraft. Boeing has delivered 300 of the 461 helicopters. Meanwhile, Belle Helicopter and Boeing is looking towards Japan to sell the V-22 Osprey. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has similar requirement to the US Navy since they need to replace 15 to 25 of their maritime delivery helicopters.

Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company has signed a purchase agreement for three VIP-configured aircraft in Europe. The company will sell a Bell 429 to Helix Av in the UK and another to King’s Casino in the Czech Republic. Another Bell 407GXP will be sold to an unknown customer in Italy. Meanwhile, Bell has received certifications for expanded performance. One is from the FAA and Transport Canada certification for the Bell 429 to increase its external gross weight by 500lb to 8,000lb. Another is from the FAA for the Bell 412EPI to increase the internal and external gross weight up to 12,200lb. The last one is from Transport Canada for a weight increase from 2,646lb to 3,100lb for the Bell 407.

Bell is looking toward Australia after the critiques made to Airbus’ Tiger attack helicopter. The company believes that its UH-1Z attack and AH-1Y combat utility helicopters could be a fit to Australia’s need of helicopters operating in harsh conditions.

Further to the recent first flight of the K-Max since it has returned to production, two of the models are to be delivered in a matter of weeks to Lectern Aviation of China. The aircraft that conducted the first flight is to be delivered to the Chinese company next month at Kaman’s facility in Connecticut, US Terry Fogarty, director of business development for K-Max helicopter programs, told Shephard.

Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky has been looking for new buyers for its CH-53K King Stallion. AIN reports that the company is focusing on Germany, Israel and Japan. The German Army needs 40 to 60 helicopters to replace its CH-53Gs but Boeing is also eyeing this opportunity with its CH-47 Chinook. However, Lockheed believes that the CH-53 powered by GE Aviation T408-GE-400 engines will be more efficient. The German Army could issue an RfP in about one or two years.

Lease Corporation International (LCI) has signed an order for nine AugustaWestland rotorcraft with Leonardo Helicopters. The list-price value of the deal is over $120 million and covers the AW169 medium-twin, AW139 intermediate-twin and AW189 super-medium-twin. The helicopters are expected to be delivered this year and in 2018. The rotorcraft will be used for search and rescue, maritime pilot transfers, emergency medical services and training and utility missions.

Leonardo also closed a deal for 17 helicopters, including 2 AW119Kx light-singles, 10 AW109 Trekker light-twins and five AW139 intermediate twins worth more than €100 million with Sino-US Intercontinental Helicopter Investment. Deliveries will begin later this year. Sino-US Intercontinental becomes the exclusive Leonardo Helicopters distributor for the Chinese civil, commercial and offshore helicopter market. The distributorship will be extended to the entire Chinese helicopter market in mid-2019.

Leonardo has partnered with Heli Protection Europe (HPE), a certified air operator to offer surveillance and reconnaissance services on behalf of civil customers such as police and emergency responders via the operation of remotely piloted vehicles (RPAS). Missions will include environmental monitoring, firefighting, humanitarian surveillance, migration flows, emergency response and border control. The partnership will use Falco aircrafts carrying payloads such as electro-optical and infrared sensors, radars and hyperspectral cameras. This is a way for the Italian company to have the Falco certified for flight in non-segregated airspace.

Marenco Swisshelicopter says they have firm orders for 11 new SKYe SH09 helicopters and letters of intent for 100 more. They expect to receive EASA certification by fall 2018 while the third prototype made its first flight this month. The SH09, powered by a Honeywell HTS900 turboshaft engine, should receive FAA certification about six months after EASA according to Marenco. Meanwhile, Solar Impulse founder, André Borschberg, is joining the company’s board, pending shareholders’ approval.

Safran announced the first ground run of the Arriel 2L2 engine that was selected in 2016 to power South Korea’s LCH and LAH. The engine is co-developed by Safran Helicopter Engines and Hanwha Techwin which will be responsible for MRO. The Arriel 2L2 has been developed from the Arriel 2N and will be more reliable, powerful and have better performances. Certification is planned for 2020 with entry into service scheduled for 2022.

Safran Helicopter Engines has also signed a MoU with Thai Aviation Industries (TAI) to support helicopter engines operated by the Royal Thai Armed Forces. These include Makila-powered H225M and Arriel powered H125M, H145M, AS365N3+ and H155.

Safran Helicopter Engines has received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) engine type certification for its Ardiden 3G engine, which powers Russian Helicopters’ Ka-62. The helicopter made its official maiden flight on May 25. Since its first ground test, the Ardiden 3 maturation and certification campaign has accumulated more than 8,500 hours of test. Thanks to this extensive test phase, the Ardiden 3G will demonstrate a high level of maturity at entry into service.

Safran Power Units has crossed a new milestone in the field of additive manufacturing by obtaining the first certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for an auxiliary power unit (APU) major part made by additive manufacturing. This certification paves the way for its mass production. The certified part is the turbine nozzle for the eAPU60 that is manufactured by Selective Laser Melting (SLM) using hastelloy X, a nickel-based material.

Russia has been selected to supply Ka-52K helicopters to Egypt for its Mistral carriers. The helicopter is a naval modification of the Ka-52 Alligator reconnaissance and combat helicopter.

Russian Helicopters will increase its order backlog to 500 helicopters by the year-end, the company’s Director General Andrey Boginskiy told IHS Jane’s. India, China, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentine, Niger, Burkina Faso and other countries contributed to the backlog. Russian Helicopters had stabilised its order backlog at 400 helicopters by end-2016. It ensures the company’s load for the next two years, Boginskiy said. According to him, the contract documents for the delivery of 32 helicopters to the tune of RUB18.2 billion ($324.56 million) have been signed since early 2017.

As Sikorsky’s CH-53K King Stallion enters production, company officials are confident that the US Marine Corps (USMC) Heavy Lift Replacement Programme is on track. With initial operating capability scheduled to take place by the end of 2019, the aircraft has now reached more than 450 test flight hours. At the CDR stage of the program, issues were discovered as outlined in the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation FY2016 annual report, which noted that hot temperature issues within the number two engine bay had caused delays to the programme.

Workhorse, an electric-drive truck manufacturer, unveiled its SureFly at the Paris Air Show. The SureFly is a 2-seat hybrid-electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) aircraft with 8 independent motors powered by a 200-hp Honda aviation engine and a dual-battery backup system. The company is aiming for FAA certification in 2019.

Written by ADIT – The Bulletin and republished with permission.