ROTOR Magazine2018 SpringFeatures

HAI HELI-EXPO 2018: What’s New

By May 6, 2018March 26th, 2021No Comments

“What’s new?”

Trying to answer that question is one reason why thousands attend HAI HELI‑EXPO® each year. New and improved products, new companies, new alliances — there’s so much to see on the show floor, and HAI HELI‑EXPO 2018 in Las Vegas was no exception.

New Exhibitors

LICO Solutions showed its new ground-handling wheel, a universal wheel set for skidded helicopters. It fits virtually any skid system, is lightweight, and breaks down in seconds for easy transport. LICO Director Thomas Kabilka says his family-owned 40-year-old business is well-known in Europe and specializes in solutions for rotorcraft.

With its first exhibit at HAI HELI‑EXPO, the company is introducing its designs to the American market. With all engineering and development performed in‑house, LICO can be responsive to specific needs. Products such as the ground-handling wheel and the Flyer‑Truck Heli Loader are a natural progression from specialized designs. Visit www.lico‑ to learn more.

Precision Gear Inc.’s samples remind us of the intricacies involved in the materials and machining of close-tolerance, flight-safety-critical components. Sometimes Einstein’s admonition that “Everything must be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” just doesn’t apply to helicopters.

Rodney Tache, sales and marketing director, and John S. Nortey, program director, noted that individual consumers are unlikely to know that Precision Gear exists, but the company’s defense and commercial customers in the helicopter, fixed-wing, unmanned aircraft systems, and satellite industries rely on its expertise every day of the year. Learn more at

TACOR Precision Aircraft Welding was also new at HAI HELI‑EXPO 2018. Alan Reeves, general manager, said that the company wanted to let the rotary-wing world know that the long-established precision aviation welder was officially entering the vertical market. Their exemplar display showed a technically difficult, perfectly executed seam-and-edge welding of a stainless-steel thermal blanket to a section of stainless-steel ductwork. Not simple work! Visit to learn more.


Amanda Halsted, aftermarket sales manager for aviation, at Saft, showed the company’s legacy ruggedized batteries. “Nothing ‘spectacular’ here,” she says, “just powerful, safe technology.” Even established technology is constantly being reevaluated and improved, Halstead says, “So we always keep our eyes open, and we’re always developing improvements and new technologies.” Maybe we should be watching for an announcement from Saft. Learn more at

Gill Sealed LT Batteries no longer have matching pink tops. They’re red. “This is to distinguish them from the iconic dry-charge flooded batteries Gill still offers and older sealed technologies,” says J.D. Anderson, general manager of Teledyne Battery Products.

“LT is an improved sealed technology. Typically, we’re looking at better performance across the board: for example, 30 percent or more on first-start power, 20 percent-plus on residual (second) starts, and a 50‑percent faster charge on the LT 44‑amp hour battery,” he says. This was achieved through advanced chemistry that delivers more power per pound and improves reliability.

“Capacity check is now at 18 months versus 12, and our LT warranty is two years,” says Anderson. Teledyne’s proprietary Safe Li‑ion technology developed for the military may be making its way to the commercial marketplace soon. Visit to learn more.


Continuous voice and data in the air — that’s what FLIGHTCELL delivers, with its dual satellite and cellular modem technology. “It will do pretty much anything your cell phone will do: preset phone numbers, GPS tracking, and cellular data,” says Marketing and Communications Manager Michael Eddy, “but it will do it anywhere.” The Flightcell DZMx phone system is considered a minor modification and can be installed under an FAA Form 337, Major Repair and Alteration. Learn more at


A full-line avionics supplier to the fixed-wing market, AVIDYNE has been a long-time leader in active traffic systems for helicopters. Its first dedicated helicopter upgrade is big news.

“Our new R10.2.1 certification comes on the heels of our announcement last week that we received STC [supplemental type certificate] approval for our IFDs [integrated flight displays] in Robinson helicopters,” says Avidyne CEO Dan Schwinn. “We have incorporated helicopter enablement features that focus on the specific needs of helicopter operators.”

Features like VFR waypoints, helicopter SID/STAR/approaches, remote COM channel increment and frequency transfer capability, improved METAR decoding, adding AWIS frequencies to the frequency list, and allowing fuel range ring time to be configurable — “These illustrate our responsiveness to the rotary-wing market,” says Schwinn. Visit to learn more.

HOWELL INSTURMENTS, with its launch customer, MD Helicopters, is now delivering its H420 7‑inch engine display driven by its data acquisition unit. Field Engineer Steve Villaman says, “We tailored the system to MD Helicopters’ specific requirements, but it can be customized for use in any aircraft. Some of the best features of our display are its vivid colors, brightness, daylight readability, and our super-wide viewing angles.” Learn more at

TRAKKA SYSTEMS brought a spectrum of products to HAI HELI‑EXPO. Stacey A. Bennett, marketing manager, says, “We can bring a complete package to a customer — moving map and synthetic vision, searchlights, IR and UV imaging, camera systems, overlays for terrain or streets, landmarks.” The company exhibited its TLX searchlight with integrated daylight and IR (infrared) cameras. “Recently, we put together an affordable and complete package for an OH‑58 for a county sheriff’s operation.”

Recognizing the workload of a pilot and the load-carrying capacity of small helicopters, Bennett notes that “in a single-pilot situation, he can even operate the searchlight from a switch on the collective.” However, she adds, “Beyond that, we think it’s good to have someone aboard to run and monitor the systems. Pilots are busy.” Visit to learn more.


AKV INC. debuted an industry-first Bluetooth-connected iPad app for external-load operators as an option for the AKV ETM1000 Exceedance and Trend Monitor. This allows remote mounting of the engine indicators for external reference work wherever they are needed.

AKV also displayed its line of STC’d engine-cycle counting systems for both singles and twins. “Cycle counting isn’t as simple as it seems,” says Jonathan Gunn, president. “All pilot manual counting methods are overly conservative, resulting in early retirement of the engine by up to 25 percent or more. Only an accurate, computer-controlled method of counting engine cycles can give your operation accurate and less conservative counts, both to preserve capital and properly maintain its engines.” Learn more at

John Yow, Business Development Manager, Asia, of LUMINATOR AEROSPACE highlighted the Orion high-power searchlight platform with improved hand controllers, plus myriad external LED lighting in both fixed-position and powered-gimbal units for all helicopter platforms — smaller, lighter, cooler, with lower current draw. Many units incorporate near-coaxial white, infrared, and ultraviolet lighting, enhancing bird-strike avoidance for multiple mission use. “The consistent feedback we get,” Yow says, “is that the lights are far brighter and more versatile than anything they have ever flown, very useful to their missions.” Learn more at [email protected].

Life Extension

When you need to remove the inevitable scratches, swirls, and little blemishes from your windscreen, windows, or bubble, experts recommend MICRO-MESH. National Sales Representative Ted Thomas had a complete line of liquid and cushioned abrasives and finishing products, and perhaps more importantly, advice on how to use the well-known products. Particularly useful was the Micro‑Mesh Heavy Damage Removal Kit for removing crazing. The kit is made up of 5‑inch components for a six‑step sanding and two‑step buffing process. Learn more at www.micro‑

We don’t always think of such things, but many expensive ball and roller bearings can be rebuilt. Matthew Dragomier, senior sales engineer at TIMKEN AEROSPACE, touts the merits of rebuilding. “Some bearings are quite expensive,” he says, “and many of these can be rebuilt to ‘new’ specification by replacement of only some of the parts — typically the balls and separators.” Save money and restore like‑new performance. Why not? Learn more at

Build It Yourself – Or Not

Even with the optional air conditioning, the new Safari 500 is still lighter than the original Bell 47-inspired machine (which remains in the Safari lineup). While saving weight, the new bodywork looks modern and adds a whole new look to the kit-built Safari. A carbon-fiber cabin covers the familiar Chromoly tube cage.

A little faster, 60-years-newer-looking, the Safari 500 uses the same basic mechanicals and proven airframe. And for those with a desire for the two-place machine but not for building it, the factory occasionally offers its demonstration machines to customers on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit to learn more.


  • Tim Kern

    Tim Kern is an aviation writer whose work has appeared in more than 50 aviation publications. He is a private pilot and holds an MBA in finance and operations from Northwestern University. He has extensive experience in machining and both motorcycle and auto racing, and was the CEO of an airplane engine company in the early 1990s. Tim is the only journalist to complete the ALEA Accident Investigation course or to have earned NBAA's CAM (Certified Aviation Manager) certification.

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Tim Kern

Tim Kern

Tim Kern is an aviation writer whose work has appeared in more than 50 aviation publications. He is a private pilot and holds an MBA in finance and operations from Northwestern University. He has extensive experience in machining and both motorcycle and auto racing, and was the CEO of an airplane engine company in the early 1990s. Tim is the only journalist to complete the ALEA Accident Investigation course or to have earned NBAA's CAM (Certified Aviation Manager) certification.