AgustaWestland has delivered the first of 10 AW139Ms to the Italian Air Force to supplement its aging fleet of Bell 212s and Sikorsky HH3Fs. The AW139M, delivered to Cervia Air Base, is equipped with heavy duty landing gear, improved crashworthiness and a secure communications suite. Additional new features include a rescue hoist, wire cutters, FLIR, cargo hook and emergency flotation gear.
Sikorsky has selected 35 companies to join its team to build 2 prototypes of the S97 Raider helicopter for evaluation by the US military. The S97 will be self-funded by Sikorsky and the 35 companies. Building on the X2's successes, Sikorsky hopes to demonstrate the single-engine S97 Raider—with its coaxial counter-rotating main rotor, pusher propeller and speeds up to 220 kts (and dash speeds up to 240 kts)—in a military environment. According to Sikorsky, the new helicopter will dramatically outperform conventional helicopters in maneuverability, range, endurance, altitude, hover efficiency and, of course, speed.
Bell Boeing has delivered the first Block C V22 Osprey to the US Marines. Block C design upgrades include new color weather radar and an improved environmental conditioning system for better cockpit/cabin air distribution for troop and aircrew comfort. Improvements also include more effective electronic warfare capabilities and better cockpit displays to improve situational awareness. More than 160 Ospreys are in service with over 130,000 flight hours amassed—half of these hours being flown in the past 2 years.
Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners has approved the purchase of 3 MD500Es for use by the Police Patrol Support Unit. Kansas City PD was one of the first law enforcement agencies to implement the concept of airborne helicopter patrol in the early 1970s using a Hughes 300. The new aircraft will include an infrared camera, video downlink, NVG compatibility, high-powered searchlight and mapping system.
The US Marine Corps is using 2 unmanned Kaman K-MAX helicopters for resupply missions in Afghanistan to reduce the exposure of aircrews in the air and troops on the ground to danger. The twin-rotor K-MAX has a reduced noise signature on the ground and can operate at night to avoid detection.
Transport Canada has certified the MD Helicopters MD900 Explorer for day/night VFR operations in Canada. Now certified in 50 countries, this most recent certification is an important step toward full approval of the newer MD902 Explorer configuration (with PW206E/207E engines and IFR STC operation). Certification is expected in a few months.
Bell Training Academy (BTA) has received EASA approval for aviation maintenance training on the Bell 212. Along with the Bell 212 helicopter maintenance training program, BTA is now approved to provide EASA approved maintenance training for the Bell 206/ 206L, 407, 412 and 427. Both the theoretical (academic) and the practical (hands-on) training were approved, which will greatly reduce the time needed to be an EASA certified mechanic under European regulations.