Utilizing data from its innovative Platinum Forecast System® 3.1, Forecast International projects that a total of 1,610 light military rotorcraft will be produced during the 15-year period from 2017 through 2031. The value of this production is estimated at $22.2 billion in constant 2017 U.S. dollars. In general, we define a military rotorcraft as light when it has a maximum gross weight of less than 6,804 kilograms (15,000 lb). Continue reading
Poland’s defense allocation for fiscal year 2017 received approval from the country’s highest legislative body on January 4. The defense oversight element, the Senate National Defense Commission, remarked positively on the planned PLN37.152 billion ($9 billion) military budget, which represents a 3.4 percent year-on-year nominal increase from 2016. Continue reading
Forecast International is projecting that 1,241 light military rotorcraft will be produced by manufacturers during the 10-year period from 2016 through 2025. The value of this production is estimated at $19.7 billion, as calculated in constant 2016 U.S. dollars. We define a light military rotorcraft as one having a maximum gross weight of less than 6,804 kilograms (15,000 lb). Continue reading
After many months of speculation, Poland’s center-right Law & Justice (PiS) government has at long last opted to forgo further negotiations with Airbus regarding a PLN13.5 billion ($3.5 billion) deal to purchase 50 H225M Caracal medium-lift utility helicopters. The PiS government inherited the negotiations from its predecessor, the centrist Civic Platform (PO) government.
The recent agreement signed by Russian Helicopters and China’s Avicopter to develop a heavy-lift rotorcraft bolsters the already long-standing ties between the two countries. Avicopter and its predecessors have produced rotorcraft since the late 1950s, and this cooperation with Russian know-how should make for a successful partnership. Continue reading
Van Horn Aviation recently celebrated the first installation and flight of VHA composite main rotor blades on its launch customer, Hummingbird Helicopter’s 206B. According to Van Horn Aviation, Bob Hoag, owner of Hummingbird Helicopters, is a current customer of Van Horn’s composite tail rotor blades, and was eager to be the launch customer for the main blade.
Composite materials have been developed and refined over the years for use on fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. Helicopter rotor blades perhaps benefit most from composite materials due to increases in fatigue resistance and higher strength-to-density ratios.
Among other major worldwide composite rotor blade modernization retrofit efforts is the US Army’s AH-64E Apache Reman program, which includes installation of composite main rotor blades and composite stabilators. The composite main rotor blade is 6 inches longer than the previous blade, with a new tip design to improve aerodynamic performance.
As part of the Chinook Block II upgrade, new composite rotor blades will add 2,000 additional pounds of lift capacity. The program has already made wind tunnel testing progress and was slated for flight testing in summer 2015.
Carson Helicopters provides the composite rotor blades used in Sikorsky’s S-61T conversion program, and markets the FireKing firefighting conversion. Carson is continuing with structural testing and manufacturing process improvements until FAA certification is complete.
Mil’s Mi-35M conversion package offers composite rotor blades, as does Paramount on its Superhind Mk IV and MkII upgrades.
In March 2013, Bell Helicopter signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Van Horn Aviation to produce the tail rotor blades for 412 and 212 helicopters, which operators may purchase and install on their own. Van Horn Aviation currently offers UH-1 Huey composite tail rotors, along with its other products, to include the new 206B composite main rotor blade.
“Our newly certificated 206B main rotor blade is the culmination of more than five years of design, prototyping, and testing, including extensive flight and fatigue testing,” said VHA CEO James Van Horn, who designed the blades and flew as copilot/flight test engineer during most of the certification flight testing. “Our goal was to produce composite main rotor blades that would reduce operator cost and increase durability. During flight testing, we saw and felt some improvements in responsiveness with the composite blades compared to the metal blades. We believe the JetRanger operators will be pleased with our composite blades.” – James Van Horn
In February 2016, Van Horn Aviation received Supplemental Type Certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for 206B composite main rotor blades. The blades were approved for 18,000 hours of service life, more than triple that of OEM metal blades. The blades consist of carbon-fiber skin and spars, a laminar-flow airfoil, and a tapered tip. Also, there is a combination of stainless steel and nickel abrasion strips across the entire length of the blade for erosion and lighting strike protection.
“We put the main blade, root, inboard and outboard sections through months of fatigue testing,” said VHA President Dean Rosenlof. “Composites are inherently durable and resist fatigue throughout normal flight parameters, so we tested the blades with simulated hail damage, induced manufacturing defects, and various extreme repairs. We won’t say that the blades are bullet-proof, but they’re close.” – Dean Rosenlof
The blades have an 18,000 hour service life with overhauls required every 2,800 hours. The list price for the blades is $79,500, sold exclusively through Aeronautical Accessories.
Van Horn Aviation is also developing 206L composite main rotor blades, projected to receive an STC in 2017. The 206L blades will be about 22 inches longer, and will have a service life of 25,000 hours.
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Forecast International’s Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Forecast provides operators in the military and commercial aviation sectors with the information they need to maximize their current investments rather than expand their fleets, a trend that is opening up multiple opportunities for the expansion of retrofit and modernization programs. It offers a one-stop service for tracking the status of commercial and military R&M programs in progress worldwide, and pinpoints key developments in the aviation industry that will impact the market in the future.
The U.S. Army wants to transfer the National Guard’s fleet of 192 AH-64 Apaches to the active component, but a new report from the National Commission on the Future Structure of the Army recommends leaving in place four Guard battalions. The proposed transfer is part of the service’s Aviation Restructure Initiative (ARI), which involves retiring the OH-58 Kiowa and using the Apache as an interim scout helicopter. Under the original plan, the Army would have 20 battalions with 690 Apaches. The Guard would receive 111 UH-60L Black Hawks from the active force to partially offset the lost Apaches. Continue reading
A long-awaited move by the U.K. Ministry of Defence regarding attack helicopter capability has now played out, as a government-to-government request for the upgrade/remanufacture of the British Army fleet of WAH-64D Apaches was approved by the U.S. State Department. Continue reading
Following a furor sparked by a series run by Philippine daily The Manila Times, which exposed the shadiness of a 21-unit procurement of UH-1 helicopters, the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) has cancelled the PHP1.263 billion ($28.5 million) deal. In addition, the DND has ordered the blacklisting of the contracted supplier – a joint venture combining Rice Aircraft Services and Eagle Copters Ltd – from further bidding on future Philippine defense projects.