Eurocopter’s new EC175 made its official maiden flight at MRS (Marignane, Marseille, France) on Dec 17. At the controls were Eurocopter Experimental Test Pilot Alain Di Bianca and Flight Test Engineers Michel Oswald and Patrick Bremont. Eurocopter launched the EC175 program on Dec 5, 2005. The aircraft’s development and manufacture have been conducted in cooperation with longstanding Eurocopter partner China Aeronautics Industries Group. The 7-metric-ton class EC175 has been designed to carry out a wide range of civil missions. Depending on configuration, it can hold up to 16 passengers. So far, 14 customers have ordered 114 EC175s. EASA certification is slated for 2011, with first deliveries scheduled to follow in 2012.

Omniflight Helicopter has inked an agreement with FlightSafety Intl (FSI) to train 200 Omniflight pilots on FSI’s new AS350 simulator, which is a Level 7 sim. Training will take place at FlightSafety’s center in Tucson AZ. The agreement includes training for newly hired as well as current Omniflight pilots and will focus on both regulatory and mission-specific, scenario-based training. Omniflight’s goal is for its pilots to be better prepared when dealing with encounters associated with inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions (IIMC) and a wide range of emergency procedures. The new simulator has been designed specifically for helicopters that perform EMS operations. Omniflight Helicopters operates about 100 aircraft domestically from 72 bases in 18 states.

China’s Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) has taken delivery of 2 AgustaWestland Grand light twin helicopters. They will be based aboard MSA’s new large vessels performing missions in Guangdong province in southern China and will be employed to control and fight water pollution. The contract includes an option for 2 additional helicopters to be exercised next year. AgustaWestland says it has sold almost 30 helicopters in China. The Grand order book now stands at about 280. Roles include EMS, SAR, harbor pilot shuttle and corporate transport.

Bell Helicopter’s Canadian supply center now offers Honeywell T53 engine spare parts and accessories in Canada. The center has entered into a distribution agreement with McTurbine, a Honeywell-approved independent service center, to be the approved distributor for T53 engine parts in Canada. Customers may place orders for Honeywell parts directly with their supply center account manager using their existing Bell spares accounts.

American Eurocopter has received D-Level certification from Eurocopter for the repair and overhaul of tailbooms and stabilizers for the EC135, making it the first company to receive this designation outside of Europe. American Eurocopter can now perform all tailboom repairs for the EC135, EC145, BO­105 and BK117 at its GPX (Grand Prairie TX) facility. The company announced recently that it had expanded its certification for repairs on EC135 gearboxes.