t’s -8 oC in Gunnison, Colorado, USA, where BLR is performing flight tests with an H125 to complete the certification procedure for the FastFin system. This Airbus-approved STC has also already been approved by EASA, the FAA, as well as the certification authorities of India, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. The process is also under way in China and Keith Ray, Director, Commercial Helicopters Sales at BLR, is optimistic: “You’ll hear from us as soon as we have it.”
It’s no coincidence that BLR has chosen to perform these tests with the H125 in Gunnison, which is located at an elevation of more than 2,300 metres. The altitude, the cold temperatures and the Rocky Mountains provide the ideal setting to put the FastFin system to the test.
Upon entering the hangar, one thing immediately catches our eye about the H125: the tail boom looks slightly different than usual. “The FastFin kit comprises several components: an Advanced Tailboom Aerodynamic Cowling (ATAC), a Tailboom Strake and Vortex Generators,” explains Dan Smith, who has been responsible for conducting all certification and flight tests for BLR for the past 14 years.
Dan and Ron, who is the mechanic, take the H125 out onto the helipad; it looks like the snow has stopped and we’ll be able to fly over the mountains. Time for a safety briefing, then we’re ready for Dan to show us what it’s like to fly with the FastFin system.