Hill Helicopters Developing Turbine Light Single
UK-based Hill Helicopters on Monday unveiled the HX50, a new five-seat, light turbine single helicopter powered by an as-yet-unspecified 500-shp powerplant. Design features include an all-composite, three-blade main rotor, retractable landing gear, and a ducted tail rotor. Performance targets for the HX50 include a 140-knot cruise speed, a maximum payload of 1,760 pounds, and a maximum range of 700 nm. Hill reports that the HX50 is currently in the advanced design phase, with three prototypes scheduled to begin flight testing in 2022. Pre-orders will begin in the fourth quarter, with first deliveries planned to commence in 2023. “The helicopter industry has long awaited an Elon Musk-style disruption that redefines the modern helicopter. The wait is over,” said Hill Helicopters CEO Jason Hill, the founder of Dynamiq Engineering who previously worked at GKN Westland (now Leonardo). “The only way to create something that is truly groundbreaking is to design from the ground up, giving equal focus to aerospace design, performance, and safety as well as to the artistic and experiential aspects, including comfort, ergonomics, intuitive technology, and luxury. The HX50 brings all of this together to deliver a truly unique aircraft and experience.”
HeliValue$: ‘The Worst Helicopter Market in 40 Years’
by Mark Huber – July 27, 2020, 6:14 PM
“It’s the worst helicopter market in 40 years.” That’s the blunt appraisal of Jason Kmiecik, president of aircraft pricing specialist HeliValue$ who told AIN that second-quarter 2020 transactions were down “drastically” from the first quarter. The leader of the rotorcraft appraisal and consulting firm blamed the plunge on a terrible trifecta of industry troubles, including Covid-19 pandemic proliferation, collapsing oil prices, and evaporating operator credit. “There’s just a lot of bad things going on. It’s a bad time for everybody,” he said.
Nevertheless, Kmiecik said there are some bright spots in a market that is otherwise a miasma of disappointment. Offshore operators could soon be saddled with fewer parked helicopters due to a series of new tenders floated by energy companies, a move that would benefit the values of large helicopters such as the Sikorsky S-92 and Airbus EC225.
Kmiecik said that helicopter lessor Milestone, with an eye toward future market recovery, already had taken advantage of depressed large helicopter prices to snap up several S-92s. GECAS unit Milestone already owns the world’s largest S-92 fleet.
Last month, Brazil’s Petrobras oil conglomerate launched four tenders in support of its exploration in the Campos and Santos basins. Previous new tenders this year have come from diverse locations such as Angola, Nigeria, Norway, and the UK North Sea. Additionally, more of Europe is turning to private helicopter companies to provide search and rescue services, with tenders pending in Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and the UK for contracts that will begin as early as next year. The UK is looking to address closer to shore needs with its UKSAR2G program.
Older generation intermediate twins such as the Bell 412 and Airbus EC155 and AS365 models are still seeing their values crushed as the Leonardo AW139 continues to be the aircraft of choice in that market, Kmiecik said. However, even the values of AW139s have not been unscathed by this market, he added.
On the other hand, smaller helicopters, such as the Airbus EC135 and EC145 twins are holding their values well. Buyers are paying premiums in the face of increasing demand for used models of the type from air ambulance operators, who are responding to the increasing need for transport from rural areas with larger and more capable aircraft. The ubiquitous Airbus single, the AS350/H125 also is holding its value, Kmiecik said, but the original incarnation of its larger sibling, the EC130B4, is not as it is facing aging aircraft issues. Values for MD Helicopters series 500 singles are relatively strong in the face of short supply, as production of civil variants has all but evaporated as a consequence of that company’s ongoing success with foreign military sales.
Nevertheless, from the perspective of HeliValue$, it firmly remains “a buyer’s market,” with purchasers in many instances offering depressed prices as they grapple with large unknowns. “Buyers are being very cautious because of the uncertainty of what could happen three years from now,” Kmiecik said.
Garmin GI 275 Displays Approved for Helicopters
by Matt Thurber – July 6, 2020, 8:52 AM AIN Online
Operators of certain Part 27 helicopters can now install Garmin’s GI 275 electronic flight instruments under a field approval process. In the fourth quarter, Garmin expects to receive a follow-on supplemental type certificate for use of the GI 275 as a replacement for attitude and horizontal situation indicators in helicopters.
Garmin’s GI 275 mounts from the rear of instrument panels and fits in standard 3.125-inch instrument holes, simplifying the replacement of older flight instruments. Pilot control of the GI 275 is via touchscreen and dual concentric knobs.
Installations that can be done now include the GI 275 as a course-deviation indicator (CDI), radar altimeter display, and multifunction display. According to Garmin, “The GI 275 has completed stringent helicopter vibration and temperature testing, demonstrating it can withstand the harsh operating environments encountered by helicopters.”
For CDI installations, the GI 275 can interface with legacy navigators, thanks to its built-in omnibearing resolver. It can also accept up to two GPS and two VHF nav sources and can display vertical and lateral GPS, VOC/LOC, and glideslope deviation.
The MFD installation enables the display of moving map, flight data, weather, traffic, Garmin SafeTaxi airport diagrams, and radar altimeter information.
The GI 275 also includes built-in Wi-Fi so database updates can be transferred wirelessly to a single GI 275 or synced with multiple units installed in an aircraft. The Wi-Fi capability also enables sharing of GPS position and backup attitude information with the Garmin Pilot app.