The first Eagle Copters 407HP in the region, VH-EPU, has been operating in the hot and high environment of Papua New Guinea with outstanding results
At high altitude testing above 10,000 feet, the aircraft is lifting more than a standard Bell 212 and close to double the standard Bell 407 helicopter.
Shortly after its May 2016 debut at the Australian Helicopter Industry Association’s Rotortech tradeshow, the aircraft was used for both pilot and engineering training. It was a practical model for the first Australasian five-day maintenance training course on the new Honeywell HTS900 engine, run by Eagle Copters Maintenance Pty. Ltd. in conjunction with Honeywell and Intermountain Turbine Services Inc.
“Understanding the operational conditions in Papua New Guinea is especially important due to its rugged and heavily forested terrain. This is why selecting the right type of engine will help to optimize both cost and efficiencies, whilst delivering improved performance,” said Mark Burgess, vice president, Asia Pacific, defense and space, Honeywell Aerospace.
“Honeywell’s HTS900 engine is an ideal fit for the Eagle 407HP in Papua New Guinea as it is designed to operate in high altitudes and hot temperature. As well, the light weight and high performance capabilities of the engine allow power to increase while fuel consumption remains low.”
With mission-specific equipment installed, the aircraft then began trial operations with Heli Niugini, replacing a standard Bell 407 on a drilling exploration contract. The work involved lifting a variety of internal and external loads carried out at around 6,500 feet (density altitude 8,000 feet). These were perfect conditions to perform a like-for-like comparison between the Eagle 407HP and a standard 407.
The results met, and in some cases exceeded, expectations. Specifically, the Eagle 407HP proved superior in a number of ways:
- Heavy lifting: With its increased lifting capacity, the 407HP was able to lift and move heavier parts of the drill rig, thus reducing any need for disassembly;
- Fuel capacity: The 407HP was able to go out with more fuel than a standard Bell 407 whilst lifting similar loads, consequently saving the ferry time and costs to refuel; and
- Internal load: Because of its ability to land with a heavier internal load, the 407HP was able to carry out a food resupply in one trip instead of two.
“With initial results coming in as anticipated, the aircraft was then taken up over 10,000 feet to prove its performance at ‘hot and high,’ and after multiple lifts at 11,300 feet (density altitude 13,000 feet) the words ‘Awesome’ and ‘What a beast’ were heard reverberating around the mountains,” said Grant Boyter, Eagle Copters CEO.
Exceptionally pleased with the results, Heli Niugini will continue to work VH-EPU on a lease arrangement with Eagle Copters Australasia. In addition, Heli Niugini and Eagle Copters Australasia have entered into an agreement to convert one of Heli Niugini’s existing Bell 407s to an Eagle 407HP. Arrangements are currently underway, which will see the conversion take place at Eagle’s Coffs Harbour, Australia, facility in early 2017.
The Eagle 407HP is torque-limited to around 10,500 feet, compared to around 3,500 feet on a standard Bell 407, in Papua New Guinea. This ability of the HTS900 to supply the maximum allowed transmission horsepower up to 10,500 feet is key as to why the 407HP is a game changer.
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