Vector Aerospace successfully completes first AS350 CRFT flight test

Vector Aerospace Corporation, a global independent provider of aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, and its partner Robertson Fuel Systems (RFS), a HEICO Company, announced that their Crash-Resistant Fuel Tank (CRFT) for the Airbus AS350 light single helicopter family has successfully completed its first flight.

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This second major milestone toward Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification of the retrofittable CRFT comes shortly after the successful completion of an FAA-certified 50-foot drop test that demonstrated the tank’s ability to withstand impact without any leakage, thereby helping to prevent post-crash fires. The new CRFT has since been installed on two flight test aircraft, an AS350 B2 and an AS350 B3, with both undergoing extensive ground-testing as the program progresses steadily forward.

Commenting on July 21, the day of the first flight, test pilot Ted Bell said: “Today was a very exciting day for us. Everything went according to schedule and to plan, pilots and passengers will appreciate the additional level of safety this system provides.”

Jeff Booker, CRFT program manager at Vector, added: “This milestone is a testament to the team here at Vector, which has been working hard to bring this product to market for our customers. As soon as the drop testing was complete we began the process of installation to move us into this new test phase. It’s a great feeling to see this tank flying.”

Company flight testing will continue on both aircraft over the next few weeks, as Vector and RFS work toward a late 2017 FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) target date.

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The CRFT is being developed by RFS and Vector as a direct replacement for all AS350 models, including the H125 (AS350 B3e), as well as for the EC130 B4. The unique design features a robust crash-resistant fuel bladder, and uses several innovations including a magneto-resistive fuel quality transmitter to keep the tank from being compromised in the event of an accident.

Vector is also working closely with Onboard Systems to incorporate their industry proven cargo swing solutions as a compatible option, which can be used with the new crash-resistant fuel tank. The AS350 CRFT can be ordered from either RFS or Vector.

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