VHA updates UH-1 tail rotor blades, nearing 206L main rotor blade certification

Rotor blade manufacturer Van Horn Aviation (VHA) recently updated its Bell UH-1 Huey composite tail rotor blade, replacing the original squared-off doublers with rounded doublers. The change has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under supplemental type certificate (STC) No. SR02051LA and assigned a new part number (2042200-103).

Van Horn Aviation has updated its UH-1 composite tail rotor blade, and is close to certification of its Bell 206L LongRanger main rotor blade. Dave Cruz Photo
Van Horn Aviation has updated its UH-1 composite tail rotor blade, and is close to certification of its Bell 206L LongRanger main rotor blade. Dave Cruz Photo

“Our Huey blade design received its initial FAA STC in May 2007, so we have more than a decade’s worth of customer experience and feedback on the blades,” said VHA president Dean Rosenlof. “Our customers appreciate the increased tail rotor authority with no corrosion issues, but they started to see some paint cracking at the squared-off doublers. The smoother surface transition around the rounded doublers will resolve that cosmetic issue and provide an even better product for our customers.”

The 2042200-103 blade is not compatible with VHA’s initial 2042200-101 UH-1 tail rotor blade. All VHA UH-1 tail rotor blades manufactured after Oct. 15, 2017 are -103 blades.

VHA is also excited to announce that certification on its 206L LongRanger main rotor blade is nearing completion after more than three years of design and flight testing. The LongRanger blades are loosely based on the company’s 206B JetRanger main rotor blade design certificated in 2016, but incorporate several design changes due to differences in length and transmission mounts between the two models.

“After several redesigns and flight test iterations, we have created a composite LongRanger main rotor blade with performance and handling qualities that match or exceed the OEM metal blades,” said Rosenlof. “Operators should feel very little difference flying our blades versus the metal blades.”


The VHA 206 main rotor blades use the same carbon fiber materials and construction methods similar to the company’s successful 206B/L tail rotor blades, which have been available as an STC/PMA aftermarket component since 2009. Both blades feature corrosion resistant carbon fiber skin and spars, an efficient NASA-designed laminar-flow airfoil, and tapered tip. The 206 main rotor blade also features stainless steel abrasion strips with an electroformed nickel tip to provide erosion protection and airfoil integrity along the entire length of the leading edge.

The VHA test team is completing flight testing on the 206L main rotor blades and have started the fatigue test phase of the certification plan. The company’s goal is to certify the 206L main rotor blades with a 20,000-hour service life, which is four times the life of the OEM metal blades, with overhauls every 5,000 hours. The team anticipates finishing fatigue tests during second quarter 2018 and submitting the final certification package to the FAA later this year.

VHA 206 main and tail rotor blades are available exclusively from Bell Helicopter subsidiary Aeronautical Accessories (aero-access.com). VHA UH-1 tail rotor blades can be purchased directly from VHA or its worldwide network of distributors. Visit vanhornaviation.com for details and pricing.

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