Military drives rotary-wing technology forward

Boeing's DiscRotor proposal

As it considers long-term planning options, the US Army has announced requirements for its next-generation helicopter, scheduled to enter service in 2030.

Key specs for the Joint Multirole (JMR) demonstrator include speed over 200 kts, range of 424 km (230 nm) with 2 hrs station time, and the ability to hover at 6000 ft on a 95°F day. A flightcrew will be optional.

Although the JMR program aims to produce at least 4 classes of helicopter, from light to ultraheavy, the demonstrator will be a medium-class craft able to carry a 9-man squad and a sensor/weapons package.

If some of those requirements are clearly military, high speed, good range and carrying capacity would all make the JMR demonstrator a great candidate for a business makeover.

Up to 5 configuration study contracts will be awarded in May. One bidder is Sikorsky, which has proposed the S97 Raider, based on its high-speed coaxial X2 demonstrator. The X2 reached 250 kts on a test flight last September.

Piasecki's candidate, the Pathfinder IV compound helicopter, is based on its X49A SpeedHawk. The X49A uses a 4-bladed rotor, ducted pusher prop, and lifting wings borrowed from the Aerostar FJ100 jet project (a derivative of the Piper Aerostar) to deliver speeds of 200 kts. It first flew in 2007.

Boeing's proposed DiscRotor hybrid VTOL aircraft would also meet most JMR requirements. The question is, will business operators be interested in waiting another 20 years or more before they get to fly the new generation of high-speed, high-tech rotorcraft?

American Eurocopter has delivered an AS350B3 AStar to NS Air Leasing of Wilmington DE. NS Air, a lease-to-purchase operation, has taken delivery of 4 AStar B3s this year.

Bell has flown its OH58 Block II demonstrator for the first time. Re-engined with a Honeywell 1000-shp-class HTS900 turboshaft, the craft is being pitched to replace the venerable Kiowa Warrior under the US Army's Aerial Scout requirement. Bell Pres & CEO John Garrison says it will hover out of ground effect at 6000 ft on a 90°F day, per Army specs. Other changes include updated avionics and moving the electro-optical/IR sensor package from above the rotor to under the nose.

EADS North American Defense has received a US Army contract for the procurement of 4 UH72A light utility helicopters, 4 ARC 231 airborne radio communication system production cut-in, and 1 engine inlet barrier filter production cut-in. The project, with a fixed price of $21,468,420, is scheduled for completion in 2012.

Under a new agreement, Eurocopter Canada will provide Level 1 and 2 training for technicians working on the Turbomeca Arrius and Arriel engines. The Turbomeca Training Network operates in 11 countries around the world.

AgustaWestland is expanding training capacity for its AW139 medium twin helicopter. Rotorsim, co-owned by AgustaWestland and CAE, has signed for a 3rd AW139 full flight simulator (FFS)—a new model that will enter service next year. The simulator will be qualified to Level D, the highest FFS qualification. Through 2010, Agusta­Westland will place it in a new network of regional training centers and independent service organizations. More than 350 AW139s are in service, with over 500 on order.

 


SPECIAL REPORT

Brazil's Minas Gerais State Air Patrol Battalion marks 25 years of law enforcement service

Military Police unit flies mixed fleet for statewide police, firefighting and environmental protection duties.

By Phil Rose
Managing Editor


Unit Eurocopter A350B2 flies over Belo Horizonte MG. Since its creation in 1987, the battalion has accumulated over 48,000 flight hours in the skies over Minas Gerais and other states of Brazil.

In Brazil's Minas Gerais State, the Batalhão de Radio Patrulhamento Aéreo (Air Radio Patrol Battalion)—part of the State Military Police—is in its 25th year of operation.

Fixed-Wing Squadron Capt Alexandre Rigotti reports that the battalion—the country's second oldest fixed and rotary-wing public safety unit after that of São Paulo State—will celebrate its quarter century in Jan 2012.

In addition to police patrol duties, the battalion has developed a partnership with the Minas Gerais Instituto Estadual de Florestas (State Forest Institute) and shares in the work of Previncêndio—South America's largest task force for combating forest fires.

Unit history

Polícia Militar de Minas Gerais (PMMG)—Minas Gerais State Military Police—used aircraft for the first time in the 1920s, when the authorities bought an Avro 504 biplane for aerial observation. The original site of this early police aviation force is a former airfield in the state capital, Belo Horizonte, now occupied by the Military Police Academy.

Much has changed since those early days. Today, Minas Gerais—Brazil's 4th largest state, with an area of more than 226,000 sq miles—has a population of almost 20 million. As society itself has evolved, so too have the needs of local communities, the philosophy and practice of police work, and crimefighting techniques and technology.

Jan 1987 represented a milestone in PMMG's evolution, with the creation of the Comando de Radio Patrulhamento Aéreo (CORPAER, or Air Radio Patrol Command). The document that gave rise to this new police unit was Resolution No 1665 of Jan 27, 1987, signed by then General Commander Col Leonel Archangel Afonso.

The establishment of CORPAER was part of a wider management reform aimed at improving public service efficiency.

The fledgling unit had to overcome numerous challenges, including setting up training programs and deploying PMMG's first helicopter—a Bell 206B JetRanger III, which was assigned the call sign Pégasus 01.

In 1992, the Brazilian Air Force donated 2 Bell 47s to support the training of new team members. Many pilots were trained on these helicopters—call signs Pégasus 02 and 03—until 1999, when both Bell 47s were retired.

On Feb 22, 1994 the institution received a new helicopter type—a Eurocopter AS350B2 Esquilo codenamed Pégasus 04. During the 1990s the unit also operated a Robinson R22 helicopter—Pégasus 05—and a Cessna 210 with the call sign Pégasus 06.

In 1996, recognizing the success of the first decade of rotary-wing operations, Minas Gerais State Government started the process of acquiring 5 Helibras AS350B2 Esquilos, which were given the call signs Pégasus 07–11.

In 2004 the unit became part of the Comando de Policiamento Especializado (CPE, or Specialized Police Command)—a new organizational structure which permitted devolution of certain services to the state. Soon afterwards secondary bases were set up in the cities of Uberlândia, Montes Claros and Juiz de Fora. In 2006 CPE became a King Air C90 operator—first with Pégasus 12 and later Pégasus 13.

 

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