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Representatives from Australia-based Heliwest Services and U.S-based Van Horn Aviation (VHA) recently assisted with the first flight of the Van Horn 206B composite main rotor blades in Australian skies over Melbourne. Collaboration between Heliwest (a Bell Helicopter Customer Service Facility), Bell Helicopter subsidiary Aeronautical Accessories, and VHA, assisted Melbourne-based Australasian Jet complete installation, ground tests, and flights from Essendon Airport.
Heliwest sales and customer service manager Jason Ellis and VHA president Dean Rosenlof were on hand to support the Australasian Jet engineering team as they installed the new blades. “It was a big day,” said Ellis, “But at the end the customer was very happy with the blades and the on-site support provided by Heliwest Services and VHA.”
Certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in February 2016, the VHA 206B JetRanger main rotor blade features carbon fiber skin and spars, an efficient NASA-designed laminar-flow airfoil, tapered tip, and a combination of stainless steel and nickel abrasion strips that cover the entire length of the blade for erosion and lightning strike protection. As the composite blade is more rigid than the original metal blades, the pilots’ initial feedback was that “flying the machine is more responsive with reduced pilot inputs.”
“I’m confident that the main rotor blades will be as well received in the market as the highly successful VHA 206 tail rotor blades,” said Ellis. “I certainly look forward to speaking more with customers about the blades and how they can lower their DOCs (direct operating costs). With VHA expecting FAA certification of the 206L LongRanger main rotor blades by the end of 2017 with a 20,000-hour service life (four times that of the OEM [original equipment manufacturer] metal blade), it’s certainly an exciting product to engage with the market.”
“We are proud to support Australian helicopter operators,” said Rosenlof. “We recognize that many Australian operators fly in challenging environments and situations. We’re excited about bringing another product to market that will help 206 operators in Australia – and around the world – lower costs and increase performance.”