Hell Expo 2017 - The Future Is Fast Approaching
The Helicopter Association International (HAI) Heli Expo 2017 held from March 7 – 9 in Dallas, Texas showcased 731 exhibiting businesses and organizations with 62 aircraft on display. Repeated themes at the expo were adjustability, customization, and integration providing insight into what the future holds for helicopters. Manufacturers should focus their attention on offering helicopters with systems that provide greater flight flexibility through single-integrated systems which can adjust at a moment’s notice to flight conditions and mission requirements across the board from military and law enforcement to emergency services operations.
For the first time on the public stage, Bell unveiled its future helicopter concept FCX-001. With advanced and sustainable features such as its airframe, the concept includes a single-pilot flight deck with artificial intelligence assistance, hybrid propulsion systems, morphing rotor blades for different flight conditions, a anti-torque system in the tail boom designed to alter safety, noise, and performance parameters, and futuristic landing gear.
MD Helicopters unveiled its MD 6XX, a single-engine concept helicopter with multi-mission capabilities. The aircraft will include technologies such as an all glass Genesys Aerosystems IDU-680 primary display system and rotor blades with 3-section airfoil design. According to Lynn Tilton, CEO of MD Helicopters, from serving warfighter and law enforcement agencies around the world to their growing global base of EMS, Search and Rescue, and utility operators – the MD 6XX is on track to become not only the fastest, highest gross-weight, quietest MD-brand helicopter ever; but the absolute best in its class.
Rogerson Kratos demonstrated its in-development UH-60A Black Hawk (N683DN), a fully integrated digital cockpit modernization upgrade of UH-60A to fly. Replacing obsolete analog technologies with a digital cockpit system not only meets future Black Hawk mission requirements, but is also cost effective. Four Black Hawks are in the cockpit modernization development programme.
Fully integrated touchscreen cockpits were on display such as Thales 2020, designed to display open world information alongside information from secured avionics in an integrated manner. Thales unveiled the latest connectivity-enabled functionalities on its Avionics 2020 future cockpit, quoted as the first fully connected avionics suite for helicopter, which customizes the aircraft for a particular mission and can be reconfigured during flight when the mission changes.
Jake’s Aerospace Government International Defense Management (JAGID) in partnership with Astronautics Corporation of America displayed SmartCopter, a portable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and tactical communications system that assists ground-based operations for military and law enforcement. JAGID CEO, Jake Williams, has previously stated that communication is critical to use helicopters as eyes in the sky with portability allowing you to outfit different aircraft with one system versus a permanent installation.
Metro Aviation subsidiary, Outerlink Global Solutions, debuted the IRIS system – a comprehensive lightweight, monitoring, recording, and next generation satellite communications system providing voice, video, analog, and digital aircraft system information.
Guardian Mobility’s G4ME is a global, real-time tracking and two-way messaging system in a single device. Using Iridium’s latest 9603N modem, the G4ME enables global communications on current and next generation satellite systems. The device features text messages that are sent in real-time and viewed via any smartphone or tablet combined with the Guardian Connect App.
Luma Technologies showcased the Bell 206, 206L, 214 and 412 platforms, which were added to their list of certified LED Caution Warning panels for retrofit and fleet modernization programmes. The new panels will incorporate their goggle ready design philosophy delivering FAA approved Sunlight Readable Aviation Colors that do not affect night vision goggle performance.
The Eye in the Sky cockpit video recorder was developed by Louisa Patterson, CEO of Over the Top – a New Zealand air tour operator. Following her son’s death in a Robinson R44 helicopter crash, Patterson designed a cockpit recording device integrating video, voice, and data. The cockpit recorder could have provided her son’s investigators with crucial information on the crash.
Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA