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The Maximum Pilot View Kit (MPVK) for the Airbus AS350 B2/B3 models, developed by Swiss Rotor Solutions, has recently received Transport Canada approval, following European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approvals.
The kit offers pilots a wider perspective from the cockpit by enlarging the cabin floor window to 350 percent the size of the existing window — improving pilot visibility, safety, and the efficiency of long line operations.
Flight tests for the AStar MPVK were conducted by two EASA-designated test pilots in Europe, who — in cooperation with the Design Organization Approval — determined the never-exceed speed (Vne) while flying with the MPVK to be 145 knots power on, and 110 knots power off.
Following Transport Canada approval, Avialta Helicopter Maintenance Ltd., based at Villeneuve Airport outside of Edmonton, Alberta, has been approved to distribute and install the MPVK in Canada.
Installation of the MPVK is a complex task that requires modifications to the helicopter doors and airframe. Some of the original equipment is modified and refitted back into the airframe, and according to Avialta’s general manager Paul Horvatis, it is a requirement that installation is completed by a certified installer. The company’s now-certified MPVK installer, Jonathan Wood, travelled to Europe to receive the required training allowing the new modifications to be completed at Avialta’s facility.
“[The MPVK] is the first product of its kind, of this magnitude, for the AStar,” said Horvatis. “Everybody has a large window, but this is going to take it one step further. It will create ease of operation, improve safety, and relieve pilot workload while long lining.”
With the MPVK requiring large-scale modifications to the aircraft, Avialta anticipates the install will take roughly 100 hours — not including paint.
Swiss Rotor Solutions had the MPVK on display at this year’s HAI Heli-Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, and received numerous inquiries from well-known Canadian aircraft operators, many of which are now working with Avialta since it became a distributor and certified installer.
Horvatis said the MPVK can help make long line missions such as search-and-rescue, drill moves or water bucketing less challenging for pilots.
“[The MPVK] takes long lining to a different level,” he said. “It’s not an easy task to long line from an AStar; it takes exceptional pilot skills in order to be very efficient. I think the MPVK will broaden the scope of people who can long line — and, on the other hand, will support inexperienced long line pilots for a fast and safe learning process by providing them a huge vertical view.
“You can see the ground; you have a bigger area to work with. It’s almost like taking the door off and sticking your head right outside the aircraft.”
Avialta Helicopter Maintenance is planning to install the MPVK on one of its AS350 B3s with hopes of demonstrating it at this year’s Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) tradeshow in Vancouver, British Columbia.