VHA Receives TIA on 206B Main Rotor Blade Program
Sunday, June 28th, 2015
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
Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
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
Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
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
Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
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
Monday, April 28th, 2014
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.
Van Horn Aviation Establishes Repair Station
Monday, January 20th, 2014
VHR Personnel remove bearings from a VHA 206 tail rotor blade.
Van Horn Aviation recently obtained FAA Repair Station Certificate V7JR502Y, establishing its own repair station. The new Van Horn Repair (VHR) is co-located with VHA’s Tempe, Arizona, manufacturing facilities and will specialize on repairing VHA composite rotor blades.
“The repair station certificate allows us to better service our customers by providing in-house repair and replacement of both warrantied and non-warrantied parts,” said VHA president James Van Horn. “Customers now have a choice when it comes to repairing their VHA composite blades.”
Services provided through VHR include:
• Replacing bearings/bushings
• Repairing limited damage to composite skin
• Replacing abrasion strips
• Rebalancing blades
• Repairing voids in blades
• Other structural repairs as approved by an FAA authorized Designated Engineering Representative (DER)
VHA Quality Manager and FAA-authorized Designated Manufacturing Inspection Representative (DMIR) Marie Dwyer will oversee operations at the VHR repair station. “Having an in-house repair station allows the manufacturing side and repair station side to share information, resulting in improved processes and enhanced customer support,” said Dwyer.
Customers can contact Van Horn Repair through its website, vanhornrepair.com, or by calling
VHA Shifts Priorities to 206 Main Rotor Blade Development
Monday, December 9th, 2013
Van Horn Aviation recently shifted its development priorities to focus on the 206 main rotor blade program after the MD500 main rotor blade flight test program was cut short by unexpected unavailability of the test aircraft.
From August through early December 2013, the VHA flight test team achieved successful track and balancing of newly redesigned MD530F main rotor blades, high-g maneuvers, and forward flights to 130 kts during flight testing on an MD530F at MD Helicopters’ Mesa, Ariz., facility. However, MD Helicopters determined they had other priorities for the aircraft and terminated the program before all flight testing required for FAA certification could be completed.
The knowledge and experience gained from the MD530F flight test program will be carried over to the 206 main rotor blade program. VHA intends to resume certification testing of the MD500 series main and tail rotor blades after purchasing its own test helicopter in fourth quarter 2014.
For more information, visit our MD500 Main Blade Development page.
VHA Completes First Set of Hover Tests on Gen3 MD530F Main Blades
Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Test pilot Greg Ashe and VHA president James Van Horn conduct hover tests on the new VHA Gen3 Composite MD530F Main Rotor Blades, August 22, 2013.
The third time seems to be the charm.
At the end of two days of ground run-ups and brief hovers in ground effect for track and balance, the VHA flight test team was able to hover the MD 530F out of ground effect with our new third generation (Gen3) composite main rotor blades. According to VHA founder and president James R. Van Horn during a company celebration at the end of the second day, the initial data looks very good with control loads similar to those currently generated by the metal blades.
“Two days after we first bolted on these new blades, we were able to get farther into testing and gather more data than we could get in four weeks of trying to balance the second generation blades,” Van Horn said. “It looks like we’ve fixed the issues and we’re ready for up and away testing in the next few weeks.”
The hover tests were conducted in the back lot at VHA’s Tempe facility. Flight tests involving translational flight, forward flight and side slips will be conducted at Mesa, Arizona’s Falcon Field.
To see a composite video of the day’s flight tests, click here. You can also find this video on the VanHornAviation YouTube channel.
MD530F Main Blade Flight Testing Kicks Off with Baseline Weight Measurements
Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
In late June 2013, representatives from MD Helicopters arrived at VHA’s Tempe, Arizona, facility to obtain baseline weight measurements of the MD530F test ship. The aircraft was weighed with the current metal main rotor blades and all test equipment to provide a baseline weight for flight testing, which is expected to begin in July.
The VHA composite main rotor blades will be individually weighed and the difference in weight accounted for during the flight tests. VHA personnel expect to conduct hover tests at the VHA facility, then move the fully instrumented ship back to the MD Helicopters facility at Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona, for transitional and high speed testing.
VHA Featured in A2Z Metalworking Magazine
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
Responding to increased demands for its tail rotor blades and looking toward future production needs as main rotor blades continue to be developed, VHA has upgraded and purchased several new computer numeric controlled (CNC) machining centers over the past year. All of this activity caught the attention of A2Z Metalworker magazine, which ran an article on VHA, its facility, and its relationship with machine broker Ellison Machinery, in the May/June 2013 issue of its Southwest edition.
To download a PDF copy of this article, click here.