FastFin Tail Rotor System gets thumbs up in Europe
April 18, 2012, Everett, Wa. - The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified the FastFin Tail Rotor Enhancement and Stability System for installation and flight on Bell 212 helicopters.
By Carey Fredericks
Certification for Bell 204s and 205s is imminent, and EASA certification of BLR’s best-selling Bell 412 FastFin System is in work.
European operators of these Bell medium helicopters may now join their North American counterparts in realizing significant performance improvements in hover load, wind azimuth tolerance, hover stability and safety. In 2009, Rotor & Wing magazine recognized FastFin with its Editors’ Choice award for best safety enhancement.
“With FastFin installed, most operators will enjoy a 10-15 percent increase in useful load,” said Dave Marone, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for BLR Aerospace. “From the snow-covered Austrian Alps to the hot-high environment of Southern Europe, operators can expect marked improvements in safety and reduced pilot workload.”
EASA certification is good news for operators like Roy Knaus, owner of Heli Austria. Knaus, the first European operator of BLR Strakes, has already ordered two FastFin Systems for his Bell medium helicopters, which routinely operate between 7,000 and 10,000 feet but sometimes reach altitudes of 13,000 feet performing missions ranging from mountain rescues to utility.
“We’ve been using BLR’s products for 12 years,” Knaus said. “FastFin is a great enhancement. It’s cost-effective and provides real safety advantages.”
BLR representatives will be available to discuss FastFin as well as fixed-wing innovations during the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE), May 14-16 in Geneva, Switzerland. Bell 212s are popular throughout Europe. BLR estimates that over 100 Bell 204s, 205s and 212s are actively operating in Europe alongside several hundred additional Augusta Bell mediums. FastFin certification programs are under way for these aircraft.
Mike Michaud, owner of Wildcat Helicopters, was the first operator to install and operate FastFin in North America and is a strong supporter of the technology. “FastFin is a resounding success for our 212 fleet. We benefit from payload advantages and typically can carry 20 percent more water for firefighting. We also realize greatly improved stability and maneuverability in strong wind conditions.”
In 2010, Bell Helicopter made FastFin standard equipment on new Bell 412EPs, and today, more than 350 FastFin systems are operating worldwide, supporting diverse missions ranging from airborne law enforcement to offshore oil transport.
The system includes two parallel stall strips, known as Dual Tailboom Strakes, on the tailboom and a reshaped vertical fin. FastFin optimizes air flow around the tailboom, dramatically improving tail rotor efficiency and wind azimuth tolerance. FastFin also reduces operating costs and reduces cycle fatigue in structures and demands on tail rotor rotating components.