Rotor & Wing International

Connected Helicopters?

From the editor-in-chief's desk.

Reflecting on my new position as editor-in-chief of Rotor & Wing International, I am ecstatic to be taking on this prestigious role in covering an industry that has been challenged by economic trends, disruptive new technologies and, at times, too much regulatory red tape.

Since joining Access Intelligence more than five years ago as a community editor with sister publication Avionics, I’ve witnessed the high standards for content delivery and the global recognition this publication has enjoyed over its 50 years serving as the go-to publication for all things rotorcraft.

At the same time, I want to take this opportunity to wish former Editor-in-Chief James T. McKenna the best of success in his future endeavors.

In this final issue for the year, our cover story focuses on a multi-faceted topic. Are helicopters already connected? Indeed they are. In the form of radio, cellular and satcom, connectivity on helicopters has been around for years. In fact, Iridium’s satellite network supports connectivity in more than 15,000 helicopters around the world.

What’s happening now is newer capabilities have been introduced to overcome the blockage of satellite signals caused by spinning blades, and new options are becoming available to provide higher speed connections more capable of rapid situational awareness updates and streaming video. For example, although there isn’t a dedicated air-to-ground internet network for helicopters, airborne police units have the ability to fly helicopters equipped with LTE sim cards that give them the same type of instant access to evolving incidents and situations in the cockpit as officers have on the ground in police cars on console laptops.

This issue also features a deep dive into perspectives from helicopter operators affected by the FAA’s April 23, 2018, flight data monitoring equipage mandate ("The Value of Data…"). Assistant Editor S.L. Fuller discusses how some operators are finding value in equipping beyond the requirements of the mandate.

Our essential equipment piece by Mark Robins ("Search and Rescue...") looks at a global view of how some traditional search-and-rescue equipment, such as hoists, are being used well beyond such missions for offshore wind-farm operations, harbor pilot transfers and power-line maintenance.

Is there anything we missed? I’d love to hear from you about topics you’d like to see more in 2018. RWI