A look at an HAI member up close and personal.
Precise Flight was founded in 1980 by two aviation consultants who were concerned about the increasing speed of general aviation aircraft when coupled with the inability to slow down without shock-cooling the engines. To solve this challenge, in 1982 the company launched its first product, SpeedBrakes, which are now widely used general aviation spoiler systems. Since then, Bend, Oregon–based Precise Flight has grown to 10 product lines, 3 of which directly serve the helicopter industry.
Perhaps the best-known Precise Flight helicopter product is the Pulselite system. Introduced in the 1980s, Pulselite is an electrical system controller that allows aircraft operators to alternately pulse the aircraft’s lights to increase visibility. The system also ties into the aircraft’s traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) or other emergency response system, immediately activating light pulsing when the TCAS or other system is activated.
As it turned out, Pulselite, which was first marketed to the business aviation community but soon became popular with helicopters, did a lot more than make aircraft more visible to other pilots. Business jet and helicopter operators using the product began reporting a reduction in bird strikes, as well. In fact, in 2018, Metro Aviation released the results of an in-house study that tracked bird strikes on 43 helicopters in 2016 and 2017. The study found that Pulselite-equipped aircraft were five times less likely to experience a bird strike during migratory season and three times less likely overall during the two-year period.
Pulselite is now available for virtually all modern helicopters, either as an optional installation on new aircraft or as an aftermarket product. It is also standard on all Bell 407 helicopters.
Precision tubes are another Precise Flight product heavily used by the helicopter industry. Precise Flight is a leading precision-tube manufacturer for aircraft OEMs, producing more bent metal type–tubing for the industry than any other maker. These types of tubes include fuel, hydraulic, deicing, and engine drain lines, among many other tubes. Precise Flight occasionally sells the tubes to maintenance shops and performs one-off custom jobs, but the majority of its sales in this arena are to OEMs.
Precise Flight’s newest helicopter product is its Twistlock beverage locking system. Born from a specific request by Cirrus, this product is designed to hold beverages firmly to avoid instrument and electrical damage from spillage, especially in the flight deck.
Unveiled at HAI HELI-EXPO 2020, the Twistlock system allows the user to lock a drinking cup into the cup holder with the twist of a wrist. The devices come in a variety of designs based on where a cup holder can be located: the floor, the wall, or as a replacement for a current, recessed cup holder.