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RCP1209_006-011_Hangar Talk 12/31/09 7:15 AM Page 10
A Helicopter Industry Milestone: Grand Rapids
The New EC175 Makes Its First Flight Air Center
Rapid Air, the fixed based operator
serving Western Michigan, is pleased to
announce it has changed its name to Grand
Rapids Air Center effective immediately.
Paul Heule, President of Grand Rapids
Air Center, says, “We are now a full-ser-
vice Fixed Base Operator and are flying
customers and cargo to over 15,000 loca-
tions in North America and beyond.” He
adds, “The name ‘Grand Rapids Air Cen-
ter’ better defines our geographical loca-
tion and the Western Michigan market we
In the past three years, Grand Rapids Air
Center has built new facilities, introduced
more fuel-efficient aircraft and imple-
mented green initiatives. Also, the com-
pany recently received a Gold Plus rating
Flight-testing has begun with Euro- ton, Texas-based Bristow Group was the
copter’s new 7-ton-class EC175 heli- helicopter’s launch customer, and will re-
copter, which has been placed on demand ceive the first EC175 in 2012.
for use in offshore operations, charter Eurocopter developed the EC175 in co-
flights and other transport duties by cus- operation with the China Aeronautics In-
tomers that include the U.S.-based Bris- dustries Group Corp. (AVIC). Under
tow Group, ERA Helicopters and the their work-sharing agreement, Eurocopter
Halvorson Group. is assigned the main gear box, rear rotor,
The no. 1 EC175 made its “official” avionics, automatic flight control system,
first takeoff today from Eurocopter’s hydraulic and electrical systems, doors
Marignane, France headquarters facility, and transparencies; while AVIC is re-
initiating a flight test and certification pro- sponsible for the helicopter’s structure, in-
gram that will lead to the startup of deliv- termediate and rear gear boxes, main
eries in two years. rotor, fuel system, flight controls and
This new-generation rotary-wing air- landing gear.
craft is designed to complement Euro- The project utilized a cutting-edge dig- from independent safety experts ARG/US.
copter’s existing product line, and is sized ital mock-up that facilitated work sharing “As security regulations, wait times and
between the AS365 Dauphin (with an op- across the thousands of miles between its delays for commercial flights become in-
erating weight of 4-5 tons) and the European and Chinese partners, as well creasingly cumbersome, Western Michigan
AS332/EC225 Super Puma (9-11 tons). as the key systems vendors. Its successful executives seek alternatives,” says Heule.
Customers in the U.S., Canada, and application in the design and development “This is driving our growth and our desire
Mexico, as well as from Europe, Russia, phases resulted in a fast-paced program to bring innovation to our industry in West-
India and New Zealand have placed a to- with less than four years between the con- ern Michigan.” In addition to all of the other
tal of 114 EC175s intent orders. Hous- tract signature and first flight. amenities and services offered by Grand

Rapids Air Center they now offer their cus-
tomers even more value as a Bravo
wards program participating FBO.
Grand Rapids Air Center accepts the
Sterling Card and provides a full range of
services such as air charters, onsite me-
chanics, Air BP fuel, and fully equipped
meeting facilities at Gerald R. Ford Inter-
national Airport in Grand Rapids.

10 ROTORCRAFT PROFESSIONAL • Heli-Expo 2010 Preview Issue
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