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275 Rotor Torque

written by Marc Joel Atrero | February 7, 2023

Canadian CH-148 re-re-baselined

The Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter program for the Canadian Forces has been renegotiated for a second time after continuing software development delays meant an interim capability delivery target for later this year is unlikely to be met.

Twenty-eight CH-148s, a Canadian-specific version of Sikorsky’s CH-92, were ordered in 2004 to replace Canada’s ageing ship-borne Sea Kings, with first delivery due in 2009. The contract was ‘re-baselined’ in 2008 after it became clear the 2009 delivery target wouldn’t be met, at which time it was agreed six helicopters would be delivered by November 2010 in an ‘interim’ configuration for initial training and operational test evaluation.

While it is hoped some machines will still be delivered this year, they will not have fully compliant mission system software according to a report in Aviation Week. The report says definitive capability specification aircraft are currently scheduled to be delivered from June 2012, but both the interim and all-up capability delivery dates will be subject to damages claims if not met.

100th CH-47F Chinook rolled out


Boeing completed the 100th CH-47F ‘Foxtrot’ variant of the venerable Chinook helicopter at its Ridley Township facility near Philadelphia in June.

The CH-47F is an improvement over the CH-47D, featuring a lower part count in a redesigned forward fuselage, more powerful engines, a Digital Automatic Flight Control System (DAFCS), and the Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) cockpit.

“The CH-47F is proving its exceptional capabilities every day in combat operations,” said Col Bob Marion, the US Army’s Project Manager for Cargo Helicopters. “The technological advantages and improvements in the CH-47F are powerful combat multipliers that save soldiers’ lives and support overall contingency operations in theatre.”

CH-47Fs built to date have equipped six US Army units, four of which have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and have flown more than 50,000 flight hours with an availability of over 80 per cent. The 100th aircraft is due to be delivered sometime in August.
Australia has ordered seven CH-47Fs for delivery from 2013 to replace its six CH-47Ds.

Bell partners on 412EP upgrades

Bell Helicopters has announced a new partnership with BLR Aerospace to incorporate a new performance upgrade for the 412EP helicopter.

The BLR FastFin system was designed as a tail rotor enhancement with dual strakes along the left side of the tail boom to control aircraft rotorwash and a reduced area vertical fin for increased usable thrust. This gives the 412EP increased takeoff and landing capability and improved crosswind capabilities.

“At Bell Helicopter we are on a mission to make our customers successful. Identifying ways to make our aircraft more productive and cost-effective plays a major role in the success of that task,” said Larry D. Roberts, Bell Helicopter senior vice president, Commercial Business. “Adding the BLR FastFin System to the Bell 412 provides our customers with an immediate performance enhancement that will allow them to effectively, efficiently and safely complete their mission without changing their helicopter.”

The FastFin system kit is being offered through Aeronautical Accessories Inc for retrofit, while it will be available as an option in new build 412EPs.

Lifesaver for NSW South Coast

The Sydney-based Southern Region Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter is extending its coverage of aerial beach patrols to include the NSW south coast beginning this summer.

In April, the rescue helicopter service’s major sponsor, Westpac Banking Corporation, pledged an increase of almost $2 million per year to Surf Life Saving Australia to help extend its presence in high risk areas around Australia including regional Victoria, Southern NSW, the Sunshine Coast and the Northern Territory.

The boost in funding will allow for helicopter surf patrols, aquatic rescues and other emergency taskings along the coastal region from Nowra down to the Victorian border on weekends and public holidays for the next three summers.

To be crewed by a pilot, an aircrew man and a rescue crewman, Southern Region Life Saver’s south coast rescue service is scheduled to begin from December 1 running through to until the end of February each year using one of its two BK117B2s, VH-SLA ‘Lifesaver 3′.
“We hope the service might be extended based on community support,” said Stephen Leahy, Southern Region Westpac Life Saver Rescue’s general manager. “The intent is for the service to become a permanent operation.”

At time of writing negotiations were currently underway with the Eurobodalla Council to base the helicopter from a hangar at Moruya Airport.

EC145 joint agreement extended

Eurocopter and Kawasaki Heavy Industries have signed a cooperation agreement to extend their partnership on the BK117/EC145 helicopter program by 15 years at a ceremony at the Farnborough Airshow.

“The cooperation between KHI and Eurocopter in Germany works very smoothly despite the long distance, time zone difference and cultural differences,” Eurocopter president and CEO, Lutz Bertling said. “The extension of our contract by another 15 years underlines the success story of our joint product.”

The partnership started in 1977 with the development of the BK117 which first flew in 1979. The ‘BK’ was developed in to the EC145 (or BK117 C-2) which entered service in 2000, and today the machine is produced in Germany and Japan, and in the US as the UH-72A for the US Army.

AW169 revealed at Farnborough

AgustaWestland has launched sales of its new medium lift AW169 helicopter, which is expected to compete against Eurocopter’s EC145 and AS365 Dauphin.

The four tonne class, 10 passenger multirole helicopter will be powered by two FADEC controlled Pratt & Whitney PW210 turboshaft engines and is planned to enter service in 2015. The AW169 will also benefit from extensive use of composites, advanced airframe aerodynamics, next generation navigation avionics and state-of-the-art systems, although few other details have been released.

AgustaWestland says that the aircraft will be targeted primarily at MS/SAR, law enforcement, passenger and offshore transport and utility markets. As such, it will be able to be customised with a range of equipment, including weather radar, FLIR, rescue hoist, cargo hook, searchlight and medical interior.

AgustaWestland notes that the new helicopter, which fits in below the AW139 in its civil helicopter lineup, is the first new design helicopter in its class in 20 years, and is expected to compete primarily with the EC145, Dauphin and Bell 429 in the utility market. It expects to sell over 1000 AW169s over the next 20 years.

LockMart & Sikorsky to bid UH-60M for CSAR-X

Lockheed Martin has teamed with Sikorsky to offer an enhanced version of the UH-60M Black Hawk to replace the USAF’s fleet of 112 HH-60G Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopters.

The two companies had previously partnered to offer the H-92 for the last iteration of the CSAR-X competition which was won by Boeing’s HH-47 offering before being overturned on appeal by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“Our team has the resources and experience to rapidly deliver the proven UH-60M airframe design with mature situational awareness sensors and mission systems,” said Scott Starrett, president of Sikorsky Military Systems in a statement. “We believe a UH-60M aircraft missionised for the complexities of the combat search and rescue mission will fit seamlessly into established Air Force training and logistics operations, thus providing a fiscally responsible and reliable platform for rescue operations.”

The UH-60M is a substantially upgraded version of the venerable Black Hawk which features a strengthened airframe, more powerful engines, wider chord rotor blades and advanced avionics.

French Tigers log 1000 hours in Afghanistan

The French army’s deployment of three Eurocopter Tiger HAPs to Afghanistan has logged its 1000th flight hour in theatre.
The aircraft were deployed by the French army’s 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment in August 2009 to support the French combat search and rescue EC 725 Caracal helicopters in Afghanistan. Eurocopter reports that the three aircraft have maintained a 90 per cent availability rate, and have “demonstrated excellent performance and operability levels”.

The Australian Army, which is struggling to bring its Tiger ARHs up to an operational tempo, has sent a has a team of observers to observe the French deployment.

MRH 90s return to flight

The ADF’s fleet of MRH 90 helicopters was cleared to return to flight in late July after an April engine failure near RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia caused a grounding of three months duration.

“I can confirm flying operations will commence shortly following approval by Defence’s Operational Airworthiness Authority,” the DMO’s new Head of Helicopter Systems Division, Rear Admiral Mark Campbell said in a July 22 statement. “Extensive work has been conducted by Rolls-Royce Turbomeca and our industry partners with support from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation to identify the cause of the engine failure. We are advised the failure resulted from compressor blade fracture due to contact with the engine casing.”

The grounding since April 20 and subsequent delay to the helicopter’s development program means the Navy’s first at sea deployment is now not expected to take place until mid 2011, while Army’s goal of an operational troop will also be delayed.

Earlier, Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling told media at the Farnborough Airshow that an incorrect hot-start procedure had been identified as the cause of the failure. “We know now precisely the sequence that the engines have seen it their history – all the engines had seen an improper procedure for a hot start,” a UK media report quoted Bertling as saying. “In all cases the improper procedure was done in the same way and if you do so then you see damage to bearings and seals in the engine. All engines that have seen the procedure will be removed from the aircraft and inspected – if there is an issue or not. And I need to say that of the engines that have had a wrong hot start procedure it is only a very small percentage that have had damage to them.”

Rear Admiral Campbell said, adding that Eurocopter CEO Dr Lutz Bertling had written to Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, Greg Combet to personally assure him that any suggestions that pilot error was responsible for the engine failure are incorrect.

A software patch had been developed for the engines to prevent the incorrect start sequence recurring.

Army Black Hawks in NZ

Four Australian Army Black hawks were recently in New Zealand to take part in exercise ANZAC Rotor 2010 with RNZAF UH-1H Iroquois.

The Black Hawks were flown across the Tasman to Christchurch in an RAAF C-17, and spent a week hosted by the RNZAF’s 3SQN based at RNZAF Woodbourne north of Christchurch, from where they conducted flying operations around the South Island’s St Arnaud Range and at altitudes up to 8500 feet, often with External Stores Support System (ESSS) wings and external tanks fitted.


* Sikorsky successfully achieved the first flight of its Autonomous Formation Flying (AFF) system on June 4. The AFF is fitted to the US Army’s Aeroflightdynamics Directorate (AFDD) JUH-60A RASCAL which flew in formation with an unmodified EH-60L. AFF is designed to reduce the pilot’s workload in formation flight by allowing the pilot to designate a lead aircraft and engage the automated system to maintain flight at a specified relative position.

* Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) and Sikorsky Aerospace Services have launched a joint venture to provide military aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services to the UAE Armed Forces and other military operators in the region.

* AgustaWestland demonstrated the first prototype of the new AW159 Lynx Wildcat at the recent Farnborough Airshow. The Wildcat is an advanced development of the Super Lynx and features new LHTEC CTS800 engines, a lighter redesigned airframe with a low-set symmetric tailplane and larger cockpit doors, advanced digital avionics and communications, and a significantly enhanced sensor suite. The British Army has ordered 40 AW159s and the Royal Navy 30, with deliveries expected to start in 2012.

* Eurocopter has announced it will place the first Full Flight Simulator for the Dauphin AS365 N3 helicopter in the region at a new training facility in Singapore by mid 2012.

* The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept Aero Bureau has ordered 12 Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopters and taken options on an additional two machines as it upgrades part of its vast helicopter fleet. The Aero Bureau already operates 12 B2s.

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