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Composite Helicopters to certify new modelsComposite Helicopters to certify new models

New Zealand’s Composite Helicopters has made good on a 2011 promise to move from carbon fiber kit helicopters to fully certified factory-completed aircraft. On Feb. 11 the company said it will offer an entry-level KC630 five-seat helicopter powered by a Rolls-Royce 300 turboshaft engine; a mid-level KC640 with a Rolls-Royce 250 C20B engine; and a higher-powered six-seat KC650 with a Honeywell LTS101 engine.

Certification of the KC630 is promised for late 2017, while the KC650 and KC640 are hoped to be certified in 2018. Planning for an international dealer network is in progress. In 2011 the company said its kit helicopter, the KC518, would eventually be offered as a certified helicopter. It will cost $970,000. Two prototype KC518 helicopters subsequently crashed during testing with no loss of life. The first was caused by a leaking seal of a servo. The second was caused by a failure of a third party rod-end. The company said the crashes prove the carbon fiber toughness.

"As a result of both incidents we have redesigned the various parts to eliminate the sources of failure while increasing the redundancy to ensure the parts are now fail proof in future production helicopters," a company official said.

The helicopters are to be certified in New Zealand with FAA certification to follow under a reciprocal agreement.

Rolls-Royce and Composite Helicopters signed a memorandum of understanding this week at the Helicopter Association International convention to use the RR300 engine on the KC630 composite helicopter. Rolls-Royce and Composite Helicopters will also work toward placing the Rolls-Royce M250 engine variants into the follow-on models. 

Alton Marsh

Alton K. Marsh

Freelance journalist
Alton K. Marsh is a former senior editor of AOPA Pilot and is now a freelance journalist specializing in aviation topics.
Topics: Helicopter, Helicopter Association International, Aviation Industry

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