Falcon Aviation adopts FastFin technology for off-shore
Feb. 10, 2012, Dallas, Tx. - Falcon Aviation Services (FAS) of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, has become the world’s first offshore oil operator to enhance the safety and productivity of its helicopters with the BLR Aerospace FastFin Tail Rotor Enhancement and Stability System.
By Carey Fredericks
FAS last year began flying the first new factory-produced Bell 412EP equipped with the FastFin System. Successful field trials led to a follow-on order of 10 FastFin systems for the entire FAS 412 fleet, according to A.J. Baker, FAS vice president of Business Development and Strategy. Baker called FastFin a “significant safety benefit” with “clear technical, logistical and commercial benefits.”
“We are impressed at the clear improvements in aircraft handling with the new FastFin System, especially the improved stability in cross winds when the aircraft has a full passenger load or a heavy external load,” Baker said. “This is a significant safety benefit when operating from offshore platforms, where space restrictions and obstacles are always a factor.” FAS is a leading provider of air charter and fixed- and rotary-wing specialized services, including offshore oil transport, in the Middle East.
FAS air crews applaud the decision to add FastFin to the entire fleet. One said, “Overall control of the aircraft is noticeably improved. Crosswind maneuvers are clearly improved due to reduced tail surface area. The take-off performance is more stable.”
"There is not as much oscillation of mast torque when heavy, which allows [the 412] to lift more stably when lifting heavy loads,” another pilot commented.
The FastFin System includes two parallel stall strips known as Dual Tailboom Strakes along the tailboom’s left side and a reshaped vertical fin. The System optimizes airflow around the tailboom, increasing tail rotor efficiency and yaw control. FastFin expands the 412’s lifting capability in all flight regimes, from sea level to high and hot conditions, and cuts costs by reducing fuel burn. Bell 412 operators can increase useful load by up to 1,250 lbs, a 91 percent gain.
“BLR is exceptionally proud of the FastFin System’s safety and certified performance improvements,” said Dave Marone, BLR’s vice president of Sales and Marketing. “Falcon Aviation’s experience is consistent with what other operators say — the system works, providing advantages throughout the helicopter flight envelope.”
Total sales of FastFin Systems to the aftermarket increased more than 80 percent in 2011. FastFin also is certified for Bell 204, 205, 212, Huey II, and UH-1 models. Nearly 350 FastFin-equipped helicopters now fly worldwide.