THE ATTEMPT by a Eurocopter AS350B3 civil-helicopter crew to fly non-stop from New York to Paris has failed because of a faulty fuel-tank weld.

The two French pilots, trying to follow the path of aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh, had to abandon the effort in mid-journey when a fuel leak developed and they were forced to land on a tugboat.

Shortly after their first at-sea aerial refuelling, the pilots noticed a leak in the auxiliary fuel tank installed in the rear of the cabin. Unable to repair the leak, they landed the single-turbine helicopter on a tug on 6 June after the third refuelling. The trip would have covered 6,000km (3,250nm) and taken 27h had it been successful.

The inflight-refuelling system, designed by France's Intertechnique, includes a hose reel, transfer pump and portable refuelling unit. Five refuelling operations were planned, two from land sites in Canada and three from tugs.

The pilots failed to match another transatlantic helicopter crossing in 1967 involving two US Air Force Sikorsky HH-3s and Lockheed HH-130 aerial tankers.

Source: Flight International