Van Horn Aviation Receives EASA Certification for Composite 206 Tail Rotor Blades

VHA 260 Tail Rotor BladeRotor blade manufacturer Van Horn Aviation (VHA) recently received a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for VHA’s 206B/L series composite tail rotor blade.

“Operators on five continents are already experiencing the benefits of flying VHA tail rotor blades, including reduced pedal forces and greater tail rotor authority at high altitudes,” says VHA president James Van Horn. “Now European operators will be able to enjoy these benefits as well on their Bell 206 series aircraft.”

EASA issued its STC after reviewing the documents associated with FAA STC SR0229LA issued in February 2010 for the same product. These documents included flight manual supplements, issued earlier this year, with updated hover performance charts for 206L1, 206L3 and 206L4 LongRanger models. The new charts provide, under certain conditions, increases in the allowable weight in ground effect (IGE) by 170 lbs and out of ground effect (OGE) by 75 lbs in Area A. Area A is the region of the hover performance charts where FAA controllability requirements are met (17 knot winds in all azimuths). 

“The new charts quantify the performance boost that LongRanger operators can expect to receive from flying VHA tail rotor blades,” says Van Horn. “While these charts do not increase the aircraft’s maximum internal gross weight limits, operators under some conditions can lift more at altitude, which can make a difference in Europe’s mountainous regions.”

The EASA STC opens up a new market for the VHA blades at a time when the company had already begun increasing production of its popular 206B/L tail rotor blade to meet market demands.

“Since moving into our new manufacturing facility in December 2011, our production capacity has more than doubled due to the increased personnel and equipment we’ve been able to employ,” says VHA general manager Dean Rosenlof. “We continue to improve processes and institute new quality programs as we’re steadily increasing production to support the Bell 206 fleet in Europe and around the world.” 

The VHA 206B/L tail rotor blade features corrosion and damage-resistant carbon fiber skin, titanium root fitting, electroformed nickel abrasion strip, and stainless steel pitch bearings. Its NASA-designed laminar flow airfoil and shaped tip reduce overall aircraft noise by up to 40 percent according to FAA-mandated acoustics testing. Rugged composite construction also results in a 5,000-hour service life, double the life of the OEM metal blades.

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