As published in Airwaves Magazine, Vol 5, October 2016
For the past couple of months VH-EPU - the first Eagle 407HP in the region - has been operating in the hot and high environment of Papua New Guinea with outstanding results.
After its successful debut at Rotortech, the high-performance aircraft was used for both pilot and engineering training prior to having mission specific equipment installed for PNG operations. Eagle Australasia, in conjunction with Honeywell and Intermountain Turbine Services, successfully completed a 5-day maintenance training course on the new Honeywell HTS900 engine, using the aircraft to gain practical experience.
Shortly after arriving in PNG, the Eagle 407HP replaced 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 (with a density altitude of 8,000 feet on the day of testing).
This was the perfect way to compare apples with apples, an Eagle 407HP to a standard Bell 407. The results proved - and in some cases exceeded - expectations, with the net result of a 30 to 50 percent increase across all loads it was tasked with.
The big advantages on this particular job were:
- Being able to lift and move heavier parts of the drill rig, thus reducing the need for disassembly.
- The ability to go out on task with more fuel than a Bell 407 when lifting similar loads, saving ferry time to refuel.
- The ability to carry out a food resupply in one trip instead of two due to the increased ability to land with a heavier internal load.
With performance results coming in as expected, the next step was to take the aircraft over 10,000 feet to really put it to the test. After multiple lifts at 11,300 feet (with a density altitude of 13,000 feet), the words "awesome" and "what a beast" were heard reverberating around the mountains.
"The aircraft is lifting more than a standard Bell 212 and close to double a standard 407 at those altitudes," said Grant Boyter, Eagle Australasia's Managing Director. The Eagle 407HP is torque limited to around 10,500 feet compared with around 3,500 feet on a Bell 407 in Papua New Guinea.
The ability of the HTS900 to supply the maximum allowed transmission horsepower up to 10,500 feet is key to why the Eagle 407HP is going to be a game changer. The aircraft is continuing to prove itself in this difficult environment and Eagle is looking forward to showcasing the aircraft in other regions and across a multitude of tasks.
Eagle Australasia is currently increasing capability to complete the conversions in-house at their Coffs Harbour facility, with the first conversion scheduled for later this year.
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