Heli-Expo 2013

We’ve all heard the expression “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Well not this time baby! We are spreading the news about Heli-Expo 2013. If you were there, you know what I mean, but for those of you that couldn’t make it, here are some of the highlights.

Matt Zuccaro, President of the Helicopter Association International (HAI) stated that “for the 5th year in a row, Heli-Expo appears to be on pace to setting records.” Mr. Zucaaro said that HAI anticipated more than 23,000 attendees, with about 750 vendors and 60 aircraft on display. In addition to the usual seminars, educational courses and meetings, for the first time, this year’s event also hosted HAI’s Rotor Safety Challenge, a series of forums, one hour presentations and safety events on a variety of topics, and they were free to all attendees! As to the highlights of the show, here they are in no particular order.

Bristow Helicopters, globally the largest provider of helicopter services, is set to become the U.S. launch customer for the Eurocopter EC-175.

A diesel powered light helicopter may not be too far off. A Eurocopter EC-120 may start flight testing the engine in the second half of next year. It is being touted as having a power to weight ratio somewhere between that of a general aviation diesel and a turboshaft engine.

MD Helicopters and Universal Avionics have gotten together to unveil a new flight deck for MD’s Next Generation Flight Deck for the MD 902 Explorer helicopter. The avionics suite will be fully integrated and single-pilot IFR capable. The avionics suite can have either two or three screens and they are all controlled by a center panel mounted Control Display Unit (CDU.)

Honeywell’s traditional outlook was released and based on survey responses, it is predicting that the global civil helicopter market will increase between 4,900 and 5,600 units from 2013 through 2017. According to Honeywell, several factors are driving these numbers — aging aircraft, changes in operational requirements, contractual requirements and new regulations requiring twin-engine helicopters for certain missions to name a few.

Eurocopter has a host of new programs in the works and one of the more notable is the EC-145T2. It features a shrouded fenestron tail rotor and Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) controlled engines. It will also feature a new Helionix avionics suite being developed in-house that includes a four-axis autopilot.

Turbomeca also is making news with three new engines and telling us that its Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) business is growing. It unveiled its TM-800 mockup, which will power the Eurocopter X4 medium-twin helicopter. The engine is in the 1,200 shp, and the X4 helicopter is the replacement helicopter for the AS-365 Dauphin/EC-155 helicopters.

The Ardiden 3 engine with about 1,800 shp is getting ready for EASA certification in 2014. (You can read about this engine in the June/July issue of HeliMx.) The engine will first be installed in the Russian Helicopters Ka-62 medium twin helicopter.

The Arrano engine is a 1,100 shp model designed to power the next generation of four to six ton helicopters.

Pratt & Whitney Canada also has a number of engines in development for the medium-twin helicopter market. The PT6C-67E powers the Eurocopter EC-175, and the PW210S is about to enter service on the Sikorsky S-76D. An additional PW210 version will power the AgustaWestland AW-169 helicopter. The PT6C-67E is a 1,775 shp engine, while the PW210S for the S-76D is a 1,077 shp engine.

Bell Helicopter has awarded Honeywell the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) and Environmental Control System (ECS) for their new Bell 525 Relentless helicopter.

Needless to say I could go on and on, but then we would run out of room for our other articles. With over a million square feet of floor space occupied there was quite a bit to see and do, and I have touched on just some of the highlights. I was also invited to participate in a symposium hosted by Turbomeca on “The Worldwide Shortage of Helicopter Mechanics.” I will be doing an article on this very important symposium in a future issue of HeliMx magazine.

In conclusion, even with the ongoing financial situation in Europe and the “Sequestration” happening here in the U.S., most attendees had an upbeat outlook for our industry and were hopeful that we were on the mend.

Heli-Expo 2013 was a hit any way you look at it. Viva Las Vegas, and hopefully we will see you at Heli-Expo 2014 in Anaheim, CA. 

R. Fred Polak | Editor