Hummingbird Helicopters Installs First Set of VHA 206B Main Rotor Blades

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Greg Ashe, Bob Hoag, Hunter Olney, Jim Van Horn, Dean Rosenlof, Henry Morris, and Pablo Ejarque in front of the launch helicopter for the 206B VHA main rotor blades. Photo by Jason Colquhoun

Van Horn Aviation (VHA) CEO Jim Van Horn and President Dean Rosenlof traveled to Valley Center, Calif., to witness the first installation and flight of VHA 206B main rotor blades on a customer’s helicopter. Bob Hoag, owner and operator of Hummingbird Helicopters, has been flying VHA tail rotor blades on his JetRangers for several years and enthusiastically offered to be the launch customer for the main blade. Hummingbird Helicopters specializes in agriculture aerial application, servicing difficult-to-reach crops and noise-sensitive areas where residential developments have sprung up next to crops.

Bob and Pablo Install

Heliblade owner Pablo Ejarque assists Hummingbird Helicopters owner Bob Hoag with the installation of VHA main rotor blades. Photo by Dean Rosenlof

Pablo Ejarque, owner and operator of HeliBlade, Inc.—an authorized distributor and service center for VHA composite rotor blades—FAA DER (designated engineering representative) pilot Greg Ashe, Hummingbird pilot Hunter Olney, associate Henry Morris, and journalist Jason Colquhoun were also present for the installation. From installation to first flight took less than two hours, and no weight, pitch link, or tab adjustments were required for successful flight.

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Hummingbird Helicopters owner Bob Hoag finishes installing the first set of VHA main rotor blades on his JetRanger. Photo by Dean Rosenlof

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The Hummingbird launch helicopter returns from its first flight with the VHA composite main rotor blades. Photo by Dean Rosenlof

The VHA 206B composite main rotor blades are available exclusively through Aeronautical Accessories ( or 1.800.251.7094). List price is $79,500 per blade. The blades have an 18,000-hour service life with overhauls required every 2,800 hours. For more information on our main rotor blades, visit our 206B Main Rotor Blade page under Products.


VHA Receives FAA STC on 206B Main Rotor Blades

Blade TopVan Horn Aviation (VHA) has received a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for composite main rotor blades fitting the Bell 206B JetRanger helicopter. The new VHA 206B main rotor blades have been approved with an 18,000-hour service life with 2,800 hour overhauls.

“This STC is the culmination of more than five years of design, prototyping, and testing, including extensive flight and fatigue testing,” said VHA CEO James Van Horn, who designed the blades and flew as copilot/flight test engineer during most of the certification flight testing. “Our goal was to produce composite main rotor blades that would reduce operator cost and increase durability. During flight testing, we saw and felt some improvements in responsiveness with the composite blades compared to the metal blades. We believe the JetRanger operators will be pleased with our composite blades.”

For more information on the VHA 206B Main Rotor Blade, click here.


VHA Completes Certification Testing on 206B Main Rotor Blades

VHA 206B Main Rotor Blade top view1At the end of January, VHA engineers shut down the 206B main rotor blade fatigue test for the last time and confirmed that all FAA certification testing for the project was complete. Currently compiling data and preparing all of the necessary documentation, the certification team anticipates submitting the final certification paperwork within the next few weeks.

We are excited about the opportunity to bring a new composite main rotor blade to the 206B market. We’re already working on the 206L main rotor blade program, and the OH-58 main rotor blade will not be too far behind.

For more information on the VHA 206B main rotor blade from a pilot’s perspective, please read Jason Colquhoun’s article, “Evolution of a Rotor Blade” in Vertical Magazine.


VHA Receives Japanese STC for 206B Tail Rotor Blades

The Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) issued JCAB STC No. STC-434-TYO on August 31, 2015, approving the use of the VHA 206 series replacement tail rotor blade (per FAA STC SR02249LA) on Bell 206B helicopters registered in Japan. Currently the JCAB STC is approved for the Bell 206B JetRanger and is not yet approved for the 206L LongRanger. VHA is working with Bell Helicopters and a Japanese launch customer to extend the STC to the 206L3 and 206L4 LongRanger models.

Visit our Documents page to download a copy of the JCAB STC.

VHA Receives TIA on 206B Main Rotor Blade Program

Greg Ashe and James Van Horn Conduct Flight Tests of the VHA 206B Main Rotor Blades in June 2015.

VHA has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) on its composite main rotor blades for the Bell 206B JetRanger helicopter. The FAA generally issues TIA after examining the technical data and determining that a component meets required regulations for issuance of a Supplemental Type Certification (STC). VHA recently completed flight testing of its 206B main rotor blades after seven months of baseline, company, and certification flight tests in Arizona, California and Colorado.

“Achieving TIA on a flight critical component such as a main rotor blade is an important step in the certification process and nearly ensures STC issuance,” said VHA president James Van Horn. “Our composite main rotor blades have demonstrated that they meet the current 206B performance charts and in a few cases, even exceed them. While we’re not planning to publish new charts, we believe the JetRanger operators will be pleased with the performance of these new blades.”

Flight testing began in October 2014 with baseline testing of the OEM metal blades on a Bell JetRanger 206B3 outfitted with the VHA tail rotor blades. The VHA flight test team conducted first hover of the 206B main blades on December 12, 2014. After several weeks of testing and a slight design change to the blades, the team completed company testing in March 2015 and began certification flight testing in Mesa, Ariz. An aggressive flight test program included strain survey and performance testing in Mesa; acoustics testing in Bakersfield, Calif.; height/velocity (HV) testing in Flagstaff, Ariz.; and high-altitude performance in Leadville, Colo. During the program, the flight test team logged extensive flight time in various conditions.

“The carbon fiber blades are definitely stiffer than the metal blades, which produces a different feel in the controls,” said FAA Designated Engineering Representative (DER) test pilot Greg Ashe, who flew the majority of the flight tests in the VHA program. “The VHA blades are more responsive to the controls, and provide better performance in certain maneuvers.”

VHA Conducts Baseline Testing, Gets Ready for 206 Main Blade Flight Tests

The VHA test helicopter conducts baseline sling load testing with a 500lb load, November 2014.

VHA engineering and flight test personnel began baseline testing in October 2014 in preparation for 206B main rotor blade flight tests. Involving a series of maneuvers at different speeds and configurations, the baseline testing allows the test engineers to obtain a set of data for a particular helicopter fitted with specific equipment. The baseline data can be used to compare with data obtained during flight testing of the new components.



Bearing Field Installation Instructions Posted

In response to customer requests, Van Horn Aviation posted the instructions for field replacement of bearings in its 206/OH-58 tail rotor blades. Operators and their maintenance personnel can download Customer Support Specification CSS-500 WC-6TG-8 Bearing Installation Rev. B from the VHA Documents page.

Maintenance personnel with proper equipment may replace the bearings in the field using the procedures described in the VHA CSS-500 WC-6TG-8 Bearing Installation document. The procedure requires the use of a hydraulic press to remove bearings, bearing swaging tool and locating fixture (purchasable from VHA), table-mounted arbor press, and manual milling machine or drill press.

Operators may also contact VHA’s repair station, Van Horn Repair for bearing replacement.

Updated 206B3 ICA Adds Info for Short Blade Operators

Van Horn Aviation posted a new 206B3 Instructions for Continued Airworthiness VMM-206B3-301 revision that includes information for early serial number 206A/B helicopters using shorter rotor blades. Section 62.3.2 of this ICA provides the requirements for 206A/B helicopters with serial numbers 4 through 2211. Depending on the serial number, operators will use one of three procedures to modify their aircraft for the VHA tail rotor blades. Section 62.3.3. provides the mean blade angles required for helicopters of various serial numbers.

VHA Featured in HeliWeb Magazine

Van Horn Aviation was featured in a company spotlight published in the March 2014 issue of HeliWeb magazine, formerly known as The Helicopter Newspaper. The article provides some background on how the company started, describes its current facility and capacity, and looks ahead to future projects.

To read the full article online, click here or to read in PDF format, click HeliWeb March2014-web.