Van Horn Aviation (VHA), the Rotor blade manufacturing company has received the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) supplemental type certificate (STC) for their composite main rotor blades tailored for the JetRanger helicopter Bell 206B. The new VHA 206B rotor blades have triple the amount of service hour life at more than 18,000 hours compared to the current OEM blades which stands for the original equipment manufacturer.
With more than five years of planning, designing, assembling and testing, which includes extensive flight and fatigue testing, the STC was designed with the expressed desire to reduce operator cost and improve upon the durability of the existing composite main rotor blades from the current OEM.
CEO of VHA James Van Horn notes that during their flight testing, the developers felt and saw major improvements with the responsiveness in terms of the composite blades versus the metal blades. The company expects that JetRanger operators will be very pleased with the upgrade in the composite blades which uses carbon fiber and a similar construction method as the company’s other successful 206bL tail rotor blades. The new VHA blades contains stainless steel with nickel abrasion strips covering the whole length of the blade protecting it from the lightning strikes and erosion. And while the composite blades are virtually an upgrade in every facet compared to the old metal blades, they use the same installation configuration allowing a seamless replacement without hub modification.
VHA has stressed tested these composite blades so extensively, putting it through simulated weather damage, extreme operator damage as well as induced manufacturing defects, that they are on the verge of being bullet-proof. This vigorous fatigue testing has earned the VHA the right to certify their 206B main rotor blades with a service life of 18,000 hours at less than $80,000.00 USD per blade all the while requiring an overhaul only once per every 2800 hours of service.