Heli-Expo Focus Is On Safety

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Heli-Expo is under way this week in Anaheim, Calif., and safety is a major theme. The FAA just last week released its final rule on helicopter safety, which requires helicopter operators, including air ambulances, to have stricter flight rules and procedures, more on-board safety equipment, and improved communications and training. The NTSB this week issued two helicopter Safety Alerts to promote proper maintenance and simulator training, and the board said its session at the Expo on Monday morning, on "Lessons Learned from Helicopter Accidents," drew a full house. Helicopter Association International, host of the event, on Monday launched its "Land and Live" program to promote safe decision-making. "The philosophy is simple," said HAI president Matt Zuccaro. "As I read many helicopter accident reports, had the pilot made a precautionary landing at some point, the accident never would have happened."

In industry news at the show, AgustaWestland brought its complete family of new-generation helicopters, including the AW189, newly certified by EASA earlier this month. Bell Helicopter reported on progress for its newest products, the Bell SLS and Bell 525 Relentless. Airbus Helicopter brought a full-scale mockup of its next-generation EC175, which received EASA certification in January, and also announced it's developing an upgraded version of its EC225 Super Puma, the EC225e, in response to operators’ requirements for extended-range missions. Erickson Air Crane announced it is re-branding, and will now be known simply as Erickson, reflecting its recent efforts to expand and diversify.