A US firm hopes to return the Fairchild Hiller FH1100 single-turbine helicopter to production next year, either by remanufacturing existing airframes or producing new aircraft in the USA or elsewhere.
Century, Florida-based FH1100 Manufacturing acquired the FH1100 type certificate in 1999 and repairs, refurbishes and resells the five-seat helicopter, first flown in 1963 and last produced in 1973 after 258 had been built.
FH1100 Manufacturing is close to certification of a replacement rotor blade and KaFlex lubrication-free driveshaft for the helicopter, says operations manager Bob Barbanes. The company has also designed a new nose that updates the helicopter’s appearance and allows the battery to be relocated.
The rotor blade, which has a new aerofoil and 50mm (2in) greater chord, can be used only with the Rolls-Royce 250-C20B engine, which powers a handful of the 80 or so FH1100s still flying, says Barbanes. Operators wanting to use the new blade and driveshaft will have to upgrade from the obsolete -C18 engine, he adds.
FH1100 Manufacturing has also selected Chelton Flight Systems’ FlightLogic electronic flight instrumentation system for new or remanufactured helicopters, says Barbanes. The firm is talking to potential customers for remanufactured FH1100s, as well as “a couple of strong overseas prospects” interested in building new helicopters.
One obstacle to restarting production is the 10-month lead time on new R-R 250s, says Barbanes, while remanufactured aircraft could use reconditioned or low-time engines. The FH1100 fits between the Robinson R44 piston single and the Bell 206 light turbine single, he says, with new-build aircraft expected to sell for about $925,000 and remanufactured helicopters costing less.
GRAHAM WARWICK/WASHINGTON DC
Source: Flight International