This month a new MD Explorer took to the skies again, operated by Cox Air Care – Air Methods.
This airframe with tailnumber N9201U has been operating with the United States Coast Guard as a part of their HITRON 10 program during 1999. In 2001 it has flown around the world. From 2002 untill 2005 it has been leased to the Dutch National Police. From 2005 untill 2015 the airframe has been stored. In 2015 it returned to MD helicopters in Mesa, Arizona.
After an extensive MD900 to MD902 upgrade program, including new Pratt & Whitney PW207E engines, the airframe was restored to flying condition on 29 September 2017 with tailnumber N902CH.
Exactly one year ago, a pair of Bell 429 helicopters was captured during a demo flight.
During that day, on 11 May 2016, nobody could have guessed that within a year both helicopters # 143 OM-ATR, and # 202 OM-BYM would have been destroyed, killing 6 occupants, and severely injuring two. This is quite remarkable. Although the circumstances of the accidents are very different, both helicopters have a lot in common. An accident investigation report of the first crash on 7 September 2016 has not yet been published.
Approximately 300 Bell 429 Global Rangers are currently operating around the globe.
This was the fifth Bell 429 that was destroyed during a crash landing. The other airframes involved are:
This month, March 2017, saw several factory new, and some older aircraft being shipped to Australia to provide transport for some very large projects. One being the Ichthys LNG project on behalf of INPEX, Japan. Several others where added in the weeks thereafter. The HNZ-PHI helicopters operate from Broome heliport to offshore installations some two hours out.