BLR Aerospace is nearing US Federal Aviation Administration approval for its FastFin modification on the Airbus Helicopters H125.
Dave Marone, executive vice-president of new business development at the Everett, Washington-based company, says FAA supplemental type certification is in the “final stages” and should be achieved next month. European validation should follow early next year, he says.
An evolution of the 10-year-old system first introduced on the Bell Helicopter 412, the latest iteration of FastFin combines an aerodynamic cowling and vortex generators on the left-hand side of the tail boom with a strake on the opposite side.
These work together – smoothing the air flow on one side, disrupting it on the other – to create a wing-like effect, generating what BLR calls "lateral lift" and enhancing tail rotor authority while reducing the engine power required. This gives an effective 64kg (140lb) increase in useful load to the H125's 2,250kg maximum take-off weight.
FastFin will be available as a “factory-default option” on all H125s, says Marone, with the modification also sold a retrofit costing about $80,000 including installation.
As well as the additional useful load, the system also increases stability, Marone says, particularly during hovering manoeuvres. “By cleaning up the air flow it reduces the number of pilot-induced corrections that have to be made,” he says.
BLR Aerospace is currently testing kits on a number of other airframes, although Marone declines to identify which particular types.
However, one logical step would be the Airbus Helicopters H130, given the similarity between the design of its tail boom and that of the H125.