Sikorsky completed the first flight of its X2 technology demonstrator on Aug 27. Chief Test Pilot Kevin Bredenbeck completed a 30-min flight demonstrating the helicopter's takeoff, slow forward flight and landing control. The X2 test schedule will consist of 4 phases starting with hover and low-speed flight and increasing the speed over the following 3 phases, adding the propeller in the final 2 test phases. Dir Engineering Sciences Steve Weiner says plans are to expand the aircraft's envelope gradually, with high-speed tests beginning in mid to late 2009.

Dart Helicopter Services (DHS) has acquired Canam Aerospace and 50% of Cargo Net Innovations. Acquisition of the 2 companies means DHS can combine their efforts in developing cargo hooks and nets to devise new product lines.

Eurocopter has sold 8 EC135P2is to the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior for use as police helicopters. Deliveries will take place between Sep 2009 and Apr 2010. They will replace the ministry's current fleet of EC135s which it bought in 1993.

Spectrum Aeromed has delivered a completed AgustaWestland AW109 to North Memorial Medical Center in St Paul MN. "North Memorial had an important need for a right-hand loading system so medical crews can load the patient in view of the pilot while minimizing the lift required for patient loading and egress," says Jon Ness, director of special missions for Spectrum Aeromed.

Following a Jun 2008 helicopter accident at BRN (Berne, Switzerland), the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation has restricted the practice of landing helicopters on mobile platforms. The platforms are used to move skid-equipped helicopters on the ground and require the pilot to land on the platform. Only pilots with proper training are allowed to use them. The June accident was the result of an attempted landing on a platform where the helicopter slipped off the platform and landed on its side. The pilot in this instance was uninjured.

Draganflyer has launched a commercially available unmanned surveillance helicopter. The Draganflyer 6X can operate as an autonomous vehicle capable of gathering high-definition video and photography. This is one of few purpose-built aircraft designed to fill a role the company says was previously filled by model aircraft with cameras grafted to the airframe.

Canadian EMS operator Ornge has ordered 10 AgustaWestland AW139s as replacements for its current fleet of Sikorsky S76s. Ornge operates from several sites in Ontario.

AgustaWestland has selected Precision Aviation Services to provide maintenance and repair services to its South African customers. The company will provide services at CPT (Intl, Cape Town, South Africa).

AgustaWestland has delivered its first AW119Ke featuring a Versace-designed interior to a private Russian customer. The aircraft features a blue and white leather interior with the designer's trademark logo. AgustaWestland began working with the Italian design company last year with the introduction of the AW109 Grand and has expanded its cooperation to the AW119 and AW139.

Eurocopter has opened its newly renovated repair and service facility at CPT. The company spent about $250,000 (ZAR $2 million) on renovation. The facility will service Eurocopter aircraft operating in southern Africa, which number approximately 230.

Boeing has received 3 contracts for research and development from the US Army. The company will study improved rotor durability, improved power and data transfer for rotor systems and high-performance rotary-wing vehicle designs. Boeing's work on rotor durability will focus on blade erosion, deicing and repairability issues. The high-performance rotary-wing design focuses on the application of a fixed wing above a helicopter's main rotor to improve lift in forward flight, possibly pushing the top-end speed beyond 170 kts. The wing is also meant to reduce vibration in the helicopter.

ITT Corp has successfully deployed the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) essential services system for southern Florida to improve traffic and safety of helicopter operations to and from off-shore oil rigs and around the Gulf of Mexico. The network consists of 11 ground stations providing air traffic, weather and other aeronautical data to ADS-B equipped aircraft. FAA considers this deployment significant in development of its Next Generation Air Transportation System.