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Company Profiles

Advanced Tactics Inc., a small aerospace company, recently released details about its AT Transformer vehicle technology and announced that a full-scale technology demonstrator has completed its first driving and flight tests.

Whether it’s something routine, like overhauling one of its many starter generators, or a more urgent need, like replacing an N1 tach indicator that just quit on a helicopter stuck out in the field, when All American Aviation needs a part they contact Precision HeliParts (PHP).

There is a tongue-in-cheek saying that “A helicopter is 5,000 moving parts all trying to do you bodily harm!” Of course, I strongly disagree with the latter part of that statement. However, since every helicopter is indeed made up of thousands of parts, the scenarios above play out hundreds of times every day in a variety of ways all over the world. Fortunately, for thousands of operators in over 60 countries, PHP is part of their solution.

Article and Photos by Tim Pruitt

MRO Services
All American Aviation is an up and coming player in the aerospace maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) industry.  As an FAA certified repair station, their certified service technicians provide complete support and services for avionics and components on both rotorcraft and fix-wing aircraft.

CS3 - Raising the Bar on Customer Support:
How Airbus Does It!
Article, Photos & Video by Lyn Burks

No one likes a helicopter that is a “hangar pig”—a helicopter that seemingly sits in the hangar broken more often than flying.  As a person who has owned several helicopters as a part of my business, I can testify that downtime equals lost dollars.

The Leading Edge of Training Technology –The CAE Experience
Article, photos & video by Lyn Burks

Offshore 100 miles, atop an 80-foot oilrig helideck I perform a pre-takeoff check: fuel levers in direct, both throttles in fly, fire t-handles are forward.  Scanning down the instrument panel I see that my temps and pressures are in the green and there are no warnings or caution lights blinking at me.  Moving across the center console, I ensure that my stick trims and autopilots are on, and there are no DECU (digital engine control unit) faults.  Next, I pull the Sikorsky S76C+ into a stable hover, turn the nose into the wind, and do a power check.  The torque gage reads 68 percent — life is good.

One of the buzzwords used on TV by the politicians and talking heads is the word “paradigm.”  In fact, using the word in a sentence over a beer with buddies may cause their impression of your IQ to go up a couple points.  We commonly hear the pundits say things like, “It’s the new paradigm” or “The paradigm has shifted.”

Looking closer at the word paradigm, we see it means “a pattern of something; a model.”

Paradigm Aerospace Corporation (PAC) has been in the helicopter business since 1976.  Given their longstanding reputation as a “model” for quality, having the word paradigm as part of their name nearly four decades later almost seems prophetic.

Back in 2011, an interesting movie was released named Moneyball.  The movie was based on the story of Oakland A’s general manager, Billy Beane.  His former General Manager (GM), Sandy Alderson, mentored him in the art of sabermetrics (statistical analysis).  In turn, Beane successfully assembled a lower-budget team based on emerging prospects and undervalued veterans that consistently performed.  Most other Major League Baseball teams during this time were interested in high-priced superstars that may or may not have consistently produced.   One theme I noticed throughout the movie was consistent, well placed singles beat a few home runs every time.

Story by Rick Weatherford Photos by Aris Helicopters In the early 1950s, the Sikorsky S-55 made its mark when the 600 horsepower (hp) piston-powered helicopter realized its first use in the world ...

STAR Flight (Shock Trauma Air Rescue) is the Air Operations Division of Travis County, Texas.  It is a public safety air rescue program that is unique because it performs critical transport, firefighting, rescue, and limited law enforcement support.  STAR Flight is based in Austin and serves not only the citizens of Travis County, but also 19 other counties within a 75-mile radius.  The majority of the calls are to assist those who are experiencing medical problems or suffering from traumatic injuries from motor vehicle crashes or other activities.  When requested, STAR Flight regularly transports very sick patients in rural hospitals to larger, better-equipped hospitals.

Aviation Specialties Unlimited
Night Vision – Business Vision
Article, Photos & Video by Lyn Burks

Helicopter flight training wearing Night Vision Goggles (NVG) is as exciting and interesting as any other new skill or technique that can be learned in a helicopter.  It’s right up there with learning touchdown autorotations!  The one and only buzzkill is that, as the name of the device suggests, you must be using them at night.  It’s all fun and games --- until your flight-training block is from 0200 – 0400.

White Hot: Adding a Thermal View with EVS
By Rick Adams

I was driving on the turnpike through western Massachusetts a number of years back, enroute to Boston, and the fog was thick. I should have pulled off and waited for better conditions, but I had a hotel reservation for that night and appointments the next morning. So I followed the only visual aids I had – the stripes on the side of the road and the taillights of the car in front of me. If the car ahead had gone off a cliff, well …

As a working helicopter pilot of 22 years, I have watched the bumpy business roads that MD Helicopters has travelled.  Although the legacy of MD is much older than its owner, Lynn Tilton, it seems like it may have inherited its resilient scrappiness from the company’s matriarch.

There is an old aviation axiom that goes like this: How do you make a million dollars in aviation?  Answer:  Start out with two million dollars!

It doesn’t matter if you have designs on becoming a pilot, mechanic, or business owner, the aviation industry can be very unforgiving.  There is virtually nothing easy about being successful, especially in the rough and tumble world of flight training.  Inject a helicopter into the equation and your “difficulty factor” goes up exponentially.

When I was a kid, my mom always had a ready supply of catchy “wisdoms” that fit every occasion, and even future occasions.  A few of my favorites were: “Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you need to go to the emergency room,” “That won’t last as long as a fart in a whirlwind,” and “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone.” However, the one I still reflect upon to this day is “Watch your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves.”

Los Angeles is known for many things:  beaches, skyscrapers, complex airspace, freeway chases and a lot of helicopter operators that support the tourist and broadcasting needs of the city.  But as we all should know, behind every good helicopter stands a solid MRO, and behind that MRO stand great mechanics.

Looking at the front of the Rotortech Services facility, I have many thoughts. The first is, “WOW, what a nice facility.” The location is pretty amazing, but the structure itself is even more impressive. Looking past its pretty face, I also recognize that at the end of the day, a business is more that just a building.  It’s really about the people and services it provides to the industry.

Flare, level off, pull pitch and cushion the landing. With the low rotor horn blaring, the AS350 came to a sliding stop on the grass runway. We had just completed an autorotation to touch down. Dave Burchill, the American Eurocopter instructor pilot looked at me and said, “Here, why don’t you take the controls and try one?” In my 21-year career, I have never flown a Eurocopter product. My entire pilot life has been spent sitting in Robinson, Bell, Sikorsky and Agusta aircraft. The last 13 years have been in multi-engine helicopters. To say that I am rusty when it comes to autos is an understatement.

35 years ago, the only helicopter simulator training done was in the military and  it was used primarily for instrument qualification.  At that time, visual systems were in their infancy and the cost and complexity ruled out simulator use for most commercial customers. Today the use of flight simulators in helicopter training is booming.

The fuselage was made partly of plywood beams. The tail cone was made of riveted magnesium. The rotor blades were a composite of fir and balsa wood, with a steel reinforcement bar down the leading edge. Powered by a vertically mounted 165-hp Franklin engine, Bell’s first helicopter, the Model 30, first flew in 1942.

Advancing technology is the double-edged sword in aviation. On one hand, technology improvements make us more efficient and situationally aware. On the other hand, just when you thought you were proficient using one technology, it changes. This tension is a boon for training providers, as they are always in demand to provide initial and recurrent training programs.

Super Bowl Sunday, 2008. A day that will go down in infamy. Not so much because the NY Giants beat the New England Patriots 17 - 14. That was a well deserved end to a great season. However, for those who remember, it was during that football game when the owner of the largest helicopter school in the world sent an email to everyone in the organization indicating that Silver State Helicopters was officially shut down.

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