Considering all their powered, moving parts, helicopters are by their very nature noisy conveyances. They are, however, in the process of getting quieter, much to the relief of those within and without.
Noise reduction of rotary wing aircraft is obviously a major goal of the industry, and in view of the news reports regarding the quiet, special ops helicopters used in the assault against Osama Bin Laden, the technology is gaining.
AgustaWestland is continuing to add improvement modifications to its AW609 as the aircraft moves toward its confirmed certification scheduled for 2017.
The hybrid fixed/rotary wing aircraft currently has “almost 60 potential orders from global customers,” according to Roberto Caprarella, Communications Manager for the company. These are from both civil and government customers in a range of configurations, primarily VIP/executive transport and offshore oil and gas operators.
If the Vietnam War could be said to have provided anything good, it was its technological advancement of turbine-powered helicopters and development of a pool of qualified pilots to fly them. At the peak of the war, the U.S. Army was churning out some 300 pilots a month.
Success or failure of the annual Helicopter Association Inter–national Heli-Expo is generally considered to be the bellwether for the industry. If so, things are going well. HAI President Matt Zuccaro noted that despite the recession in the worldwide market dating back to 2008, sales announced at each show over the past five years have set records, with the 2012 show recording a bit over $2 billion and the show this past March announcing over $3 billion in sales.
These charts list civil helicopters currently in production and certified. They are listed in ascending order of maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) to provide side-by-side comparison to aircraft of similar size.
Manufacturer and Model
This block includes the manufacturer's name and the aircraft's model name and technical designation.
Despite a serious five-year setback in helicopter sales during the latest recession, aviation forecasters are predicting a slow but steady growth starting this year and continuing through the coming decade.
The Teal Group, a Fairfax, Va., research/analyst organization, reported in its August 2012 “World Military & Civil Aircraft Briefing” that while deliveries of civil helicopters fell 19% by value in 2008-2011, with a projected 6.6% drop when 2012 figures come in, it predicted 9,526 deliveries worth $53.5 billion to civil operators through 2021.
The new Thales TopDeck avionics suite developed Sikorsky's S-76D is designed to function much as a computer, with the pilot simply calling up a menu, moving a curser to the desired position and hitting “execute.” It is also designed to provide the pilot access to a massive array of capabilities in flight with no more effort than pushing a maximum of two buttons.
The eighth generation of the S-76 line is powered by newly developed, twin dual-channel FADEC-controlled Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S engines, each producing 1,077 shp. These give the S-76D 14% more takeoff power and an 8% better fuel burn rate than the 922-shp Turbomeca Arriel 2S2 engines that power the S-76C++. They also take the S-76 full cycle in its choice of engines.
Now entering the final stages of designing its Model 525 Relentless medium twin, Bell Helicopter is taking lessons not only from its own past, but from another major manufacturer. Build will start in the second quarter, aiming for a first flight in 2014.
The Middle East air cargo industry continues to be the bright spot in an otherwise depressed worldwide cargo market, which as a whole dropped 1% for the 12-month period ending last September. The Middle East market, in contrast, has remained relatively robust, growing 8.2% during 2011 and 14.1% for the first 10 months of 2012, according to Brad Hart, Boeing’s regional director for cargo marketing. Its growth is projected to continue at 5.7% per year over the next 20 years, particularly as the region continues its movement toward economic liberalization.