Helicopters Magazine

Rotary report 2016: top headline grabbers!

January 4, 2017  By Helicopters Magazine

Ongoing economic quandaries, decreased demand from resource sectors, service and regulatory concerns with Transport Canada – these were just some of the challenges facing the Canadian helicopter industry in 2016. Here are some of the top news headlines that stood out in 2016 from Canada and around the world. All the best for a prosperous and safe New Year in 2017!

January 2016
Airbus Helicopters second H160 prototype takes to the skies
The second H160 prototype lifts off in Marignane, France for a series of important flight tests. It caps a very busy year for Airbus and the developing H160 program.

GSH reduces hours of N.W.T. team
Great Slave Helicopters cuts back the number of flying hours for its team in the Northwest Territories due to a sluggish oil and gas sector. It’s a common theme that affects the industry throughout the year.

Name game: AgustaWestland now Finnmeccania Helicopters
Iconic helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland kicks off the year with a new name: Finmeccanica Helicopters. Later in the year, the company adopts the influence of famed inventor Leonardo da Vinci to its title, rebranding as Leonardo Helicopters.

February 2016
New leadership at Bell Helicopter Textron Canada
Leadership changes at Bell Helicopter Textron Canada sees president Raymond Leduc replaced by 11-year Mirabel, Que. veteran Cynthia Garneau.


Former Sikorsky president Pino dies in plane crash
Jeff Pino, the former chief executive of Sikorsky Helicopters, is killed in a plane crash in Arizona. Pino served as Sikorsky’s president from 2006 to 2012.

CHC Group delisted on New York stock exchange
One of the first signs in what turns out to be a tumultuous year for the CHC Group includes a setback by the NYSE.

March 2016
Canadian Coast Guard gets final light lift helicopter in Shearwater
Bell Helicopter delivers its final light-lift Bell 429 to the Canadian Coast Guard. The CCG purchased 15 aircraft from Bell in 2014 and the deliveries were completed in less than two years by the team at Bell Helicopter Textron Canada in Mirabel, Que.

HNZ Group expands its northern operations
In an effort to expand its presence in the Canadian North, HNZ Group creates Acasta HeliFlight Inc. Based in Yellowknife, the new company specializes in VFR transportation services covering a variety of sectors of the regional economy.

Finmeccanica debuts the AW009 at Heli-Expo 2016
Finmeccanica’s helicopter division introduces a new model at the world’s largest helicopter expo. The new light-single turbine AW009 is a commercial version of the SW-4 helicopter.

VIH Aerospace reveals brand evolution
VIH Aerospace makes a splash at Heli-Expo 2016 with the introduction of a brand refresh – complete with a revised logo that distinguishes itself from its parent.

April 2016
Liberals contemplating privatizing SAR operations
The federal Liberals introduce the idea of farming our search-and-rescue (SAR) operations to private companies – a plan that sparks debate across the country.

Finmeccanica’s ex-CEO gets 4-1/2 years in jail in bribery case
An Italian appeals court sentences former Finmeccania chief executive Giuseppe Orsi for corruption and falsifying invoices.

May 2016
Bell’s Mirabel facility takes on new roles
Bell Helicopter announces it is relocating several of its major platforms in order to maximize its manufacturing capabilities.

Leonardo Helicopters introduces the TH-119
Specifically designed for military training providers, the TH-119 is essentially a militarized version of the AW119Kx commercial helicopter.

CHC Helicopter Group files for bankruptcy protection
The parent company of Richmond, B.C.-based CHC Helicopters files for bankruptcy protection in Texas citing a slump in oil prices.

Helicopters lead convoy through fire-ravaged Fort McMurray
One of the nation’s top news stories of the year, helicopters played a key role in helping bring the massive Fort McMurray, Atla. blaze under control.

Robinson Helicopter Company gets FAA certification for R44
The affordable R44 Cadet receives a key type certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

CHC Norway helicopter crash deemed mechanical failure
The Norwegian accident investigation board determines that the crash of a CHC H225 Super Puma that killed 13 people in Norway was caused by a mechanical failure.

Finmeccanica CEO explains name change
The CEO of Finmeccanica SpA explains why his company is renaming its helicopter brand to Leonardo Helicopters after famed inventor Leonardo da Vinci.

June 2016
New helicopter training centre is announced for Newfoundland, Labrador
The Hibernia Management and Development Company (HMDC), Research & Development Corporation (RDC) and CAE join forces to create a new training centre on the east coast.

Airbus Helicopters Canada expands facility, services
In an effort to further diversify operations and offer customers a larger variety of services, Airbus Helicopters Canada undergoes a bold expansion to its Fort Erie, Ont. operation.

Global Sikorsky S-92 fleet surpasses one million flight hours
Sikorsky’s workhorse S-92 fleet reaches a significant milestone in June as it passes more than one million flight hours.

ORNGE Moosonee, Ont. crash report is released by the TSB
The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) releases its long-awaited report on the ORNGE accident in Moosonee, Ont. on May 2013. TSB issues 14 recommendations in light of the investigation, including missteps by the company and Transport Canada.

Feds drafting new legislation to combat drones at airports
In order to stop potential close calls at Canadian airports, Transport Canada’s Marc Garneau announces a new campaign to educate Canadians about the hazards of unmanned aircraft.

Enstrom resumes flight-testing of TH180
The TH180 single-piston engine-training helicopter takes to the skies once again. Testing was suspended following a hard landing during a flight test in Menominee, Mich, in Feb. 20, 2016.

July 2016
P&WC congratulates Airbus on 20 years of H135
Airbus Helicopters marks the milestone of its successful H135 aircraft, one that has helped transform the industry. The P&WC PW206B engines powers the majority of H135 helicopters.

August 2016
Drones to be used to fight fires in B.C.
The B.C. Wildfire Service announces it will use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in 2017 to help fight forest fires in the province.

Leonardo Helicopters AW609 lands in Philadelphia for flight tests
The AW609 flight test program resumes as the first flying prototype of the aircraft lands in Philadelphia. The program was suspended in Oct. 2015 following a crash that killed two test pilots.

Sudbury EMS pilots celebrate 35 years of service
Some of Ontario’s leading emergency medical service pilots assemble in Sudbury, Ont. to celebrate 35 of EMS service in the province.

September 2016
Bell Helicopter introduces V-247 Vigilant
Bell Helicopter jumps into the unmanned systems market with the introduction of the V-247 Vigilant, a large unmanned aerial system (UAS) designed for a variety of missions primarily in maritime environments.

Safran Helicopter delivers first U.S-Arrius 2R engine
Powering the new Bell 505 Jet Ranger, the Arrius 2R engine will now be assembled in Grand Prairie, Tex. The 505 Jet Ranger is being assembled at Bell’s facility in Mirabel, Que.

RCAF’s 12-Wing gives first outside group Cyclone tour
In another first for the CH-148 Cyclone program, the RCAF has given a tour of its 12-Wing facility to an outside group to see how the program is progressing.

October 2016
Transport Canada to examine options for FDR, CVR
Following the crash of a business aircraft in Kelowna, B.C., that kills former Alberta Jim Prentice, Transport Canada announces it will further investigate the need for FDR and CVR recorders on all aircraft, including helicopters.

November 2016
Aerospace cluster takes off at Toronto’s Downsview Park
Centennial College leads the charge in its quest to develop a GTA-based aerospace cluster next to Bombardier. The announcement is great news for both the fixed-wing and rotary-wing communities.

Canadian Helicopters opens new training SIM in Edmonton
Edmonton International Airport is the new home of Canadian’s (an HNZ company) new Level 7 helicopter FTD developed by Frasca International.

CHC Group files reorganization plan
The company announces Nov. 11 that it has files a reorganization plan after declaring for bankruptcy earlier in the year.

Erickson Inc. files for bankruptcy
Iconic helicopter operator Erickson Inc. files for bankruptcy, citing slumping oil prices and a downturn in the energy sector.

December 2016
Bell 505 Jet Ranger gets Transport Canada certification
One of Bell’s innovative new helicopters achieves yet another key milestone.

Marenco Swisshelicopter appoints new CEO
There’s a change in leadership at Marenco as Martin Stucki, one of the program’s visionaries, moves on.

Canadian Coast Guard gets first two Bell 412 EPIs
The CCG fleet replacement continues as it takes possession of its first two medium-lift helicopters.

Manitoba’s first hospital-based heliport opens
The province adds a new heliport at Winnipeg’s Health Science Centre, enabling STARS medical transport service a more efficient way to treat patients. Medical heliport development nationwide continues to be a hot topic heading into 2017.


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