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RCP0110_0_Hangar Talk 2/15/10 5:03 PM Page 40
PRODUCT FOCUS
VHA Tail Rotor Blades Increase Productivity
By Kim Rosenlof
Some helicopters need help to achieve
their true capabilities. Van Horn Avia-
tion (VHA), an aftermarket rotor blade
manufacturer based in Tempe, Ariz., has
spent the past six years designing, devel-
oping, testing and producing composite
tail rotor blades with the goal of improv-
ing performance while providing great
value and service.
According to Gary Blaine, president and
chief pilot of Montana-based Billings Fly-
ing Service, VHA has achieved its goals
perfectly with composite tail rotor blades
for the UH-1 and Bell 206 helicopters.
“We have several aircraft based in
Africa, others all over the world, and we
have come to the conclusion that Van Horn
blades are the best on the market,” said
Blaine, whose company has been flying
VHA tail rotor blades on their UH-1’s
since 2007, and on JetRangers since mid-
2009. “The [VHA] blades provide addi-
tional tail rotor authority such that the heli-
copter’s not working as hard at all altitudes,
but especially above 6,000 feet we’re
happy to have the Van Horn blades. When
the tail rotor becomes the limiting factor,
VHA blades give us a nice safety margin.”
The VHA blades’ increased tail rotor au-
thority stems partially from the use of light-
weight composite materials. The carbon
fiber skins allow the faithful reproduction
of the non-symmetrical laminar flow air-
foils. The corrosion-resistant carbon fiber
construction also make the blades damage-
tolerant, as Blaine found out after a cowl-
ing bolt went through a VHA tail rotor
blade on one of his UH-1’s.
“On a normal blade, I believe the dam-
age could have caused a blade failure,”
said Blaine. “But although the VHA blade
was unrepairable, it withstood the dam-
age without failing. The VHA blades were
a true saving grace in that situation.”
VHA president James Van Horn takes
pride in comments like that. A former
chief engineer at McDonnell Douglas He-
licopters and military helicopter pilot, Van
Horn founded VHA to improve the per-
formance of various helicopter rotor blade
systems through superior design, engi-
neering and manufacturing processes.
“Each rotor blade takes between 24 and
HELI-EXPO BOOTH #3716
40 ROTORCRAFT PROFESSIONAL • February 2010
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