Helicopter Association International remembers Matthew Zuccaro

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Helicopter Association International (HAI) has sadly announced the passing of Matthew S. Zuccaro, the immediate past President and CEO of the association. 

Zuccaro became an HAI member in the early 1980’s and has since moved through the association with his vast knowledge and experience in the aviation industry. He was elected to the HAI Board of Directors in 1987 and served as chairman in 1991. Following that, he was named President of HAI in 2005, working until retirement in January of this year. In the same month he was honoured with the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award at the HAI HELI-EXPO 2020. 

Amongst his many positions with the association, Zuccaro accumulated 50 years of professionalism and pilot skills. One of his largest accomplishments was a column he wrote in ROTOR magazine in 2013, encouraging pilots to land in situations in potentially dangerous situations for passenger and pilot. This led to HAI’s Land & LIVE programme, a long-term campaign to improve safety by reminding pilots to use their aircraft’s capabilities to land at any sign of danger. “A fitting legacy for a man who was passionate about safety in the industry he loved so much.”

SAR support agreement between Cobham and HeliSpeed

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Global aviation business HeliSpeed has signed an agreement to provide Cobham with pilots from its HeliTrax database, which lists more than 1,200 qualified pilots. They will support the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard.

Cobham Aviation Services is a provider of specialised operational readiness, special mission training and operational delivery solutions to government agencies worldwide. Cobham successfully delivered a turnkey rotary wing SAR service to the Dutch Caribbean Coastguard. Now, HeliSpeed will globally assist Cobham in providing experienced SAR crews and instructors.

HeliSpeed has built a solid reputation of providing the expertise of pilots and crews closer together by matching their diverse range of skill sets to the needs of specific operators.

“We are looking forward to working in partnership with HeliSpeed and are confident in receiving pilots which meet the same high levels of skill, experience and certification as our own crews,” said Spike Jepson, Vice-President Flight Operations, Cobham Aviation Services.

Four H160s for the French Navy’s SAR missions

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The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) is to supply four H160s to the French Navy for search and rescue missions through a partnership between Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran Helicopter Engines. The French Navy will start operating these helicopters in 2022 for a period of ten years. This interim fleet of H160s will enable the French Navy to ensure the continuity of these critical missions as the Alouette III retires from service and pending Guépard deliveries. Airbus Helicopters, and its partners, will also be responsible for supporting the fleet with a high level of availability and performance commitments. In addition, French Navy operational feedback will be monitored to benefit the design of the military version of the H160 and its support system.

“We are proud that the French Navy will be operating the H160 for their search and rescue missions. We are sure that the improved situational awareness, increased pilot assistance, and visibility that the H160 provides will prove to be a valuable asset for their critical and demanding missions”, said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. “Our industrial partnership with Babcock and Safran Helicopter Engines will allow us to ensure the highest level of availability for the French Navy and we are honoured to have been entrusted with this mission”.

The H160, as a next generation medium twin engine aircraft, powered by Arrano engines, was designed to be a modular helicopter in order to address missions ranging from offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services. Its entry into service is planned for later in 2020. First deliveries of the equally modular military version, the H160M, or Guépard as it known in the French armed forces are planned in 2026. 169 H160Ms are foreseen in the frame of the Joint Light Helicopter programme (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) to replace five types of helicopters in service in the French armed forces.

Bell and Pratt & Whitney ease maintenance hassles

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Pratt & Whitney have announced that Bell 212, 412, 427 and 429 helicopter customers can now benefit from a single point of contact for enrollment and assistance in aircraft and engine maintenance plans. When enrolling a helicopter into Bell’s Customer Advantage Plan (CAP), customers will also have the option to sign up for a Pratt & Whitney Eagle Service Plan (ESP) for their engine maintenance needs.

“We are pleased to work with Bell to offer out customers a more convenient way to maximise the value of their aircraft and engines,” said Satheeshkumar Kumarasingam, VP, customer service for P&W. With and Eagle Service Plan, customers can keep their engines performing at their best and ready to take off at a moment’s notice. They can also reduce unplanned maintenance and expenses, while increasing time between maintenance events.”

Bell is equipped and authorised to support the P&W pay-per-hour ESP to helicopter owners and can simultaneously register customers for CAP and ESP. Bell 427 and 429 helicopter owners can choose ESP Platinum or Gold coverage for their PW207 engines, and Bell 212 and 412 helicopter owners can select ESP Gold or Gold Lite for their PT6T Twin-Pac engines.

Reaching for the STARS in Manitoba

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Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) has almost reached its goal of CAN$13 million for an upgraded helicopter that will serve Manitoba.

The Airbus H145 will replace the BK117 which is nearing the end of its operational service. STARS spokesperson Shandy Walls explains their current models are no longer being produced and becoming costly to maintain and source parts for.

Walls stated the new helicopter will be more technologically advanced flying intensive care unit and has more interior space, which will be appreciated by the crew. The helicopter also has a smaller footprint allowing it to operate in even more confined areas that the BK117 is not able to land in.

The change is part of an upgrading that the air ambulance services across Canada are undergoing to move from the two helicopter types in service: eight BK117s and three AW139s to a single one-type fleet.

With each new helicopter costing $13 million each, one has been ordered for Manitoba, but Walls notes that another $5 million is needed from the province in order to have the helicopter in place by next spring.

The Pembina Valley, within Manitoba remains one of the most active regions for STARS and the region’s population is a strong supporter of the flight.

Erickson and Sikorsky set to develop the S-64 firefighter

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Erickson and Sikorsky have signed a development initiative which is focussed on tackling the future of firefighting. The helicopter operator Erickson will work to develop the next generation of pilot night-time firefighting solutions, in the process integrating Sikorsky’s MATRIX Technology into a digitally enabled fire management system. This has never been done before and will allow a night firefighting capability

Linked with the next generation of flight and navigation controls powered by MATRIX, Erickson will upgrade the cockpit awareness and flight crew safety for day and night operations. Erickson’s goal is it enhance the operator’s firefighting strategy, using technology to improve safety during these demanding operations.

Night-time firefighting represents a complex and high-risk operation, making it a massive challenge for the market that needs to be resolved in the safest way possible. Both manufacturers are committed to developing a safe alternative to night vision goggles, providing new and innovative ways to enhance the safety for pilots not yet used in the commercial market.

“We are pleased to be working on this important initiative with Sikorsky who we have long time history with. Since adopting of the S-64 global fleet in 1994, Erickson has continuously modernised the platform to support critical missions.” Doug Kitani, CEO Erickson.

Travis County STAR Flight selects Axnes PNG for new AW169 fleet

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Wireless intercom technology innovator, Axnes has announced the integration of the PNG wireless intercom system for multi-mission provider, Travis County STAR (Shock Trauma Air Rescue) Flight. Based in Austin, Texas, STAR Flight has recently taken delivery of three AW169 helicopters as part of a fleet modernisation programme to support their air medical transport, hoist, and fire suppression operations.


Designed to improve crew safety, situational awareness, enhanced communication, and efficiency in flight operations, the PNG wireless intercom system was integrated by Leonardo prior to final delivery. Each airframe has an internal PNG base station and control panel integration along with two MP50 handsets. The waterproof wireless handsets have an average range of two-three miles and allow full duplex crew communication while performing external airframe tasks such as swift water rescue, hoist operations, remote accident scene response and other critical missions.


Some of the many features include a battery life of up to 15 hours of continuous operation or 40 hours of standby capability and the latest airborne environmental and software standards. A night vision goggle (NVG) compatible handset and control panel screen are standard, in addition to MP50 voice activated (VOX) and push to talk (PTT) function which allow users to easily integrate the MP50 into multiple critical and routine civil and military mission profiles. Secure AES 256-bit encrypted voice technology ensures that communications by MP50 handheld users cannot be compromised by others.

Airbus Helicopters pulls out the stops for Heli-Expo

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Airbus Helicopters will be showcasing its civil range of helicopters at Heli-Expo 2020, y at the Anaheim Convention Centre in California. On show will be an ACH130 Aston Martin Edition, and an H175.

The H125 will be displayed with the company’s latest improvements. Following the success of Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) since its launch in 2017 as the dedicated private and business helicopter platform, particularly with the ACH145 and ACH160, Airbus has renewed its offer for the ACH130 by partnering with Aston Martin. The H175 on show will be displayed in an offshore transportation configuration. In addition, an H160 immersive experience will highlight the helicopter’s breakthrough innovations in three of its major missions – offshore transportation, private and business aviation, and emergency medical services, as well as its digital support concept.

“Customer centricity is the focus of our display at Heli-Expo this year, as it is for our operations daily,” said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. “The continuous product improvements and service enhancements being implemented on our wide range of aircraft are intended to provide value to our customers and to facilitate the varying missions of our helicopters all over the world.”

Committed to accompanying customers long after an aircraft is first delivered, Airbus will

present its latest selection of support and service enhancements at the HCare corner, where

visitors can learn more about the new online customer portal, digital services, analytics,

training, and HCare global contracts. These offers, among others, enable customers to

increase availability and mission success, optimise their costs, lower maintenance, enhance safety and sustain the value of their assets.

The Airbus Helicopters static display will also feature an AS332 from Heli Austria in a firefighting configuration, an H125 from Brainerd Helicopters in an aerial work configuration and an H125 from LAPD in a law enforcement configuration, an H145 from San Diego Gas and Electric, and last but not least, the Vahana demonstrator, having just completed its flight test campaign. On the flight line at Heli-Expo, customers can experience a demo in an H125 equipped with the new Garmin TXi TM avionics, an H135, and an ACH130 with a bespoke interior.