Bell is offering WAAS-enabled glidepath capability on the Bell 429. The helicopter is certified for 9° localizer precision with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches at a minimum velocity for instrument procedures (Vmini) of 45 kts, which allows operators to fly LPV procedures in steep approach conditions. WAAS capability allows for point-in-space approaches as low as 250-ft visibility and precision approaches in low-altitude urban areas. WAAS technology is available on all new Bell 429s and may eventually be available on older Bell models. Bell designed and developed the program with help from FAA, Air Methods, Mercy Medical and Hickock and Associates.

Spectrum Aeromed has partnered with AgustaWestland, Agusta Aerospace and RSG AeroDesign to outfit 3 Grand New light twin helicopters for Life Flight Intermountain Healthcare (IHC) in Salt Lake City UT. IHC’s Grand News will be equipped with Spectrum’s single-patient stretcher platform, a secondary foldable and stowable patient stretcher and an advanced life support package. Once the STC is approved, Spectrum expects to earn FAA and EASA certification in early 2011.

Weststar Aviation Services of Malaysia has inked a deal to buy 9 AgustaWestland AW139s for offshore transport missions in oil and gas operations in Malaysia. All 9 helos are slated to be delivered by Mar 2011, with pilot and technician training and a support package that will be handled by AgustaWestland Malaysia. Standard AW139 configuration has seating for 12 or 15 pax with access via sliding cabin doors. AgustaWestland Malaysia, a subsidiary of AgustaWestland, is based at KUL (Subang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) and is a regional MRO approved by the Malaysian DCA. Weststar Aviation Services, a division of Weststar Group, offers helicopter and jet charter service as well as offshore helicopter transport.

Sikorsky set an unofficial helicopter world speed record of 250 kts TAS with its X2 demonstrator on Sep 15. The 1.1-hr flight took place at the company’s flight test center in West Palm Beach FL. Sikorsky Flight Ops Dir & Chief Pilot Kevin Bredenbeck captained the record-setting flight. The X2 dem­onstrator also reached 260 kts in a very shallow dive during the flight. The Sikorsky X2 employs count­er-rotating coaxial blades and is designed to demonstrate that a helicopter can cruise comfortably at 250 kts without compromising low-speed handling, efficient hovering and a smooth transition to high-speed flight. The company launched the X2 program in 2005, with the primary goal of reaching 250 kts.