FB Heliservices of the UK has taken delivery of its first AW139 medium twin helicopter at AgustaWestland's Vergiate plant in Italy. The aircraft will be operated from RAF Valley in Wales-where FB Heliservices already performs SAR training for the British military-and will provide SAR training for AgustaWestland export customers.

FB Heliservices ordered 2 AW139s in 2008, with the second aircraft earmarked for May 2009 delivery. The AW139 is equipped for SAR operations and includes a rescue hoist, search radar, FLIR, cabin mission console, emergency flotation system, liferafts, communications and an NVG-compatible cockpit. FB Heliservices, a joint venture between Cobham Air Services and Bristow Helicopters, provides helicopter services for military and government customers. The company operates around 60 aircraft and says it has operations in the UK, Belize, Brunei, Cyprus and the Middle East.

STAT MedEvac pilots will train in the new EC135/EC145 full-motion flight training device (FTD) now in service at the American Eurocopter training center at GPM (Grand Prairie TX). The simulator is FAA-approved as a Level 6 FTD with motion-plans are to certify it as a Level B full flight simulator later this year.

American Eurocopter Pres & CEO Marc Paganini says the new training device reflects a new emphasis on scenario and mission-based training programs that aim to duplicate operational conditions. STAT MedEvac crews operate both the EC135 and EC145 in the air ambulance role, primarily in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The new simulator debuted in Dec 2008, with US Army aviators using the system to train for the UH72A Lakota light utility helicopter. The UH72A is derived from the EC145 and is assembled at American Eurocopter's Columbus MS plant.

Aero Vodochody in the Czech Republic has delivered its 250th Sikorsky S76 airframe and has contracted with the US manufacturer to explore additional opportunities. Sikorsky is expanding its presence in Eastern Europe. In 2007 it signed PZL Mielec in Poland as an affiliate and this company was designated the future manufacturer of the S70i, an export version of the Black Hawk utility helicopter. Aero Vodochody has provided S76 fuselages since 2000. The program includes detail part fabrication, airframe assembly, installation of hydraulics, electronics and fuel systems, avionics and ground testing. The airframes are then transported by land to Germany and shipped to Sikorsky's US facilities for completion.

Night Flight Concepts recently completed night vision training for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Dept of National Defence, 12th Wing. Training for the RCMP took place at 2 operational locations in Canada, while work with the 12th Wing took place at the Palm Beach Helicopters training facility in Lantana FL. The training used night vision devices in both the Robinson R44 and Eurocopter AS350B3. The 2 organizations are adding night vision in a bid to improve safety and efficiency. Both organizations are also preparing for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games which will be hosted next year by Canada in Vancouver and Whistler BC. In addition to its flight training work, Port St Lucie FL-based Night Flight Concepts offers night vision goggle maintenance training, and provides the NVISYS NVAG6 aviator's NVG.

Helicopter Association Intl (HAI) has launched an initiative designed to tailor GPS-based RNAV terminal transition routes, also known as T or "Tango" routes, to the helicopter industry. HAI has formed a new working group which plans to create an "IFR route requirements list." Toward that goal it has solicited requests from operators for locations where published IFR routes for helicopters are needed. In their present configuration, Tango routes allow fixed-wing aircraft to fly more efficiently through or around busy Class B and C airspace, in some cases replacing inactive VHF or NDB-based airways. Tango routes have been established in airspace around Los Angeles, Northern California, Cincinnati OH, Charlotte NC, Jacksonville FL, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Additional Tango routes are in the works.