HMG Aerospace publishes its INFOCUS product for 2020

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INFOCUS by HMG Aerospace is an annual series which puts the latest developments across key sectors within the commercial and civil aviation industry under the microscope. It was developed in response to a call for a greater level of comment, analysis and review from audiences spanning the HMG Aerospace portfolio. By zeroing in on a single topic, HMG’s expert editorial team is able to deliver a product which delves deep beneath the headlines, offering key insights and intelligent predictions.

So what will you find inside INFOCUS Safety & Security 2020? As we are witnessing around the world with the COVID-19 outbreak, the global aviation community faces numerous challenges every single day and these aren’t just limited to disease outbreaks. Geopolitical posturing, cyberattacks, mechanical faults, disruptive passengers, data breaches and airspace protection are additional risks that continually threaten to disrupt the aviation sector. However, despite these threats, air transport remains the safest form of travel with security at the heart of the industry’s concerns.

INFOCUS Safety & Security 2020 looks at how airlines, airports and the rotorcraft community, as well as suppliers and industry associations, are rising to these challenges by exploring different sectors including safety and surveillance, airspace protection, training, passenger and baggage screening and cyber security. From guiding you through the typical attack surface of a model IFEC system to assessing the challenge of meeting the rapidly increasing growth in training needs, INFOCUS Safety & Security 2020 offers a comprehensive insight into a constantly evolving industry sector.  View it Online, or Download it as a PDF.

Editor’s Comment: A common cause, a common goal

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It’s a rare occasion when, as the editor of RotorHub, I get to write about military helicopters, but these are extraordinary times that the UK finds itself in. Once again, the nation has asked its armed forces to step-up and assist the wider population. In particular, military helicopters are playing a vital role in supplying urgently needed equipment to hospitals up and down the UK, and look set to be equipped to move patients infected by the coronavirus, if and when the NHS asks.

Dubbed the ‘COVID Aviation Task Force’, helicopters from all three-armed services, along with personnel, have been established to transport equipment and key medical personnel anywhere in the country. In addition, further helicopters are on standby to help NHS medics airlift coronavirus patients from anywhere in the UK, including the Channel Islands.

The Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, and the Army Air Corps have all supplied staff and equipment to the Task Force to assist in the crisis.

In order to standardise procedures across the force, an exercise was practised on 9 April at an airfield in Hampshire, where the various teams learned how each operates, and also how to remain safe when transporting a patient.

Commander Chris Knowles, the CO of 820 Naval Air Squadron, the helicopter squadron for the Royal Navy’s carrier strike group, has previously flown medical evacuations during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Knowles stated that his squadron may need to operate their Merlin helicopters in a different way when carrying NHS medics aboard, but assured those present at the exercise that everyone was up to the task.

Credit: Sky News


High voltage helicopters

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The 9eGEN project sees the use of high voltage systems ensuring that helicopters have access to stronger sources of electricity, expecting to increase power efficiency and reduce weight.

The project developed the first prototype model of a 270VDs Generator consisting of two main devices. The first us the 9-phase polygon which is attached to the main gearbox, converting the mechanical power of the main gearbox into electric power at 270VDC. The second component is a Generator Control Unit (GCU) which aims to regulate the power output in order to prevent overvoltage or overcurrent. In these cases, the GCU has built-in capabilities and communication facilities which will help control the situation.

The prototype expects to be launched into the Electro-Generation Distribution System test bench at the Airbus Helicopter site in Marignane, France, with the aim that it will eventually become a part of the RACER (Rapid And Cost Effective Rotorcraft) demonstrator.

RACER is a helicopter with a high cruise speed level of around 220 knots and is a part of the Clean Sky 2 Fast Rotorcraft Innovative Demonstrator Platform. The 270VDC network currently under development by 9eGEN will aid the RACER to be fast, agile and sustainable.

It is expected that introducing high voltage systems in helicopter will result in more powerful electrical sources to impact their power efficiency and weight reduction.

Kazan to equip Ansats for care of neonatal patients

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Kazan Helicopters announced it will be equipping Ansat helicopter with a special module for transporting neonatal patients, after receiving permission from the Rosaviatsiya (Russian Federal Air Transport Agency).

The equipment was developed with the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant which will allow the crew to perform evacuation and airborne medical care to infants. It includes a special platform for the incubator to replace the traditional stretcher design, as well as a supply of medical equipment including an artificial lung ventilator, a monitoring unit, an aspirator and an infusion pump.

Ground testing showed the capabilities to conduct emergency evacuation of the crew, medical workers and a neonatal patient whilst flight tests verified its electromagnetic compatibility with the standard equipment of the helicopter.

“The capability to install a neonatal medical module for Ansat had been in demand for a long time,” stated Managing Director of Kazan Helicopters, Yuri Pustovgarov. “Thanks to cooperation of Rostec holding companies and other partners, the helicopter now comes with upgraded equipment, allowing medical teams to continuously monitor the condition of a child, maintain the vital body functions and conduct intensive therapy during the flight.”

Air Ambulance

The Air Ambulance Service upgrades

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Air Ambulance

The Air Ambulance Service has launched its multi-million project to acquire two new helicopters to aid the deliverance of pre-hospital critical care to patients.

The acquisition is a part of the helicopter replacement project of the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA) as well as the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) to come in fruition by 2021.

The replacement will see the use of AgustaWestland 109SP, “the world’s fastest Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) aircraft.” Director of Operations for DLRAA, Richard Clayton stated, “The HEMS aircraft replacement programme has provided an opportunity to ensure that our future air ambulances allow us to continue delivering the highest quality of critical care and enable us to evolve our operational capabilities with future clinical developments.”

The new rotorcraft is expected to enhance clinical services and allow the charities to extend flight hours. The model will have a quick start-up time which results in reaching patients faster and is suitable for the regions rural areas which commonly requires small landing site capabilities. Additionally, the medical interior is designed to provide easy access to vital functions and the availability for additional medical equipment.

Editor’s Comment: Helo pilots keeping the world turning against COVID-19

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As the world locks down to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, helicopter crews around the world have answered the call to help support key industries.

There have been countless examples of companies modifying the interiors of their helicopter fleets to protect their employees, and contingency plans have been set in place for those workers who develop the flu-like symptoms to ensure that they can be flown to a hospital as quickly and safely as possible.

Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro-based Omni Táxi Aéreo has led the way by quickly modifying its fleet of aircraft that normally transports workers in the Oil and Gas sector. It has fitted its aircraft with lined seats, limited the number of passengers and used protective curtains to isolate the cabin from the cockpit; added monitoring by a nursing technician on all flights and forced cabin ventilation and the use of protective masks and overalls for crews. After each flight the nursing staff carefully clean the aircraft.

If an employee is suspected of having coronavirus symptoms or confirmed with COVID-19, a dedicated transport helicopter, Omni Táxi Aéreo’s S-76C++ aeromedical aircraft, complete with stretcher and onboard medical staff and which follows the same sanitary cleaning procedures as the rest of the fleet, will be used to transport them.

Roberto Coimbra, Omni’s CEO, stated that safety is a priority and all the measures that have been set in place are reviewed daily: “We are in permanent contact with the health authorities through our medical professionals, with the aeronautical authorities and manufacturers through to our personnel in the operational areas. Our COVID-19 prevention measures are being improved daily, so that we can continue to serve the Oil and Gas market with agility and in total safety for our employees and passengers.”

At a time when the world needs to come together to fight this pandemic, it relies on the production and supply of its vital resources. More than ever, the actions and operations of helicopter crews within the Oil and Gas sector and other similar industries are playing their part in this global endeavour. Keep safe, keep flying and thank you.


Air medical associations ask for relief

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The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) and Air Medical Operators Association (AMOA) have requested relief for their members in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

AMAO Executive Director, Sally Veith asked for relief from regulatory time restrictions for air medical operators, pilots and mechanics from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Over 90% of air medical transports in the United States are operated by AMOA, utilising a fleet of more than 1,100 air medical aircraft. Veith commented, “Transporting sick patients to a higher level of care is what we do. As the COVID-19 virus moves through our nation, we are called to continue providing lifesaving missions for those in need whether stricken by the virus or other health emergencies.”

However, the restrictions that have been issued throughout the country have impacted AAMS and AMOA services, especially on the training of air medical pilots due to a lack of FAA inspectors.

With the renewal pilot medical certificates and authorisation for mechanics in jeopardy, AMAO plans to submit a petition to exempt the regulatory requirements as without it, certificate holders would not be able to exercise the privileges of the certificates. Without them, it “may hinder air medical response capabilities during the current national health emergency,” said Veith.

AAMS have requested aiding with tax and funding to support its members facing this challenge. The company’s President and CEO commented, “Our AAMS memners are working diligently on the front lines to provide critical care in communities around the world and to ensure the transportation needs of our patients can and will continue to be met.”

London Heliport closed as a precaution

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London Heliport in Battersea, South London having sought advice from the Public Health England and Commonwealth office, due to the the COVID-19 pandemic, has announced that it will halt all operations at its site with immediate effect. The London Heliport will not be accepting any forward bookings.

According to a press release the heliport will not be able to provide full services until the nationwide lock-down is lifted. The duration of the closure will be at least until 13 April, when an evaluation on the situation will take place, if deemed necessary.

A spokesman said that operations will recommence in the future and will consistently ensure that our clients and stakeholders are updated with any changes, as soon as information is released.

London Heliport General Manager Simon Hutchins stated: “We would like to recognise the hard work and dedication of our team at the heliport. Everyone has been working tirelessly to ensure we adhere to Government guidance at all times.”

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Airbus Helicopters resume production

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Airbus Helicopters has begun to restart production with the added precautions against the COVID-19 virus, despite an expected drop in available workers.

The entire factory in Marignane, France had closed for four days but has resumed work since 23 March 2020. However, the OEM has stated that a work station does not reopen until it is deemed safe. If it does not meet the required standards, the company will conduct work to create the right level of safety.

The measures that Airbus Helicopters is taking include social distancing, keeping doors open where possible and disinfectant being accessible where the toilets are too far. Additionally, employees are directed to work at separated areas on the helicopter, and to use masks during flight testing. The company runs with two shifts that do not meet, with a three-hour period between to clean.

Only 15% of Airbus Helicopters employees were working on site as of 23 March, with another 50% working from home. According to a spokesperson, these numbers have marginally grown since the restart of operations.

Global Medical Response

Global Medical Response rescues Texas

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Global Medical Response

Global Medical Response (GMR) has announced a multi-year agreement with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX).

BCBSTX members will gain in-network access to GMR’s emergency air medical transports, covering all 354 counties in Texas and including services including AeroCare, Air Evac Lifeteam, Methodist Aircare and REACH Air Medical.  Members will also be provided non-emergency services from AirMed International.

“More than 3 million Texans live in a rural area where access to a Level 1 or 2 trauma centre can be more than an hour away by ground ambulance, and emergency air medical transports serve as a safety net where access to care is limited due to the closure of more and more of the state’s rural hospitals,” stated Steve Dralle, President of South Region.

GMR companies provide over 12,000 air medical transports in Texas each year and combined with other in-network agreements, Medicare and Medicaid, will mean that 82% of GMR’s Texas emergent air transports are covered.