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Avfuel Corporation
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Law enforcers place AS350 fuel tank orders
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is preparing to take delivery of a crash-resistant fuel tank for its AS350, and the police in Oklahoma will be getting two. This marks the start of fleet upgrade programmes.
StandardAero has received a CRFT order from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) has placed an order with StandardAero for its AS350/EC130 crash-resistant fuel tank (CRFT), developed in cooperation with Robertson Fuel Systems. The initial order is for one CRFT, as the LASD prepares to progressively upgrade its existing fleet with modern safety improvements. The CRFT kit is expected to be delivered next month for field installation by Hangar One Avionics.

“Our helicopter fleet operates across a very large and diverse patrol area, flying exhaustive hours day in and day out in service to the Los Angeles County community,” says LASD chief of maintenance Darren Ota. “As we prepare to extend the lifetime of our AS350 fleet so it can continue to serve for years to come, we are taking a hard look and investing in safety improvements that will really make an impact on the protection of our crew members operating in these challenging conditions.”

As an Airbus Helicopters certified maintenance and repair centre, StandardAero has provided extensive MRO support for the customer's AS332 Super Pumas, and also provides dynamic component repair for their AS350 fleet. In addition, its Safran Helicopter Engines repair centre designation allows it to provide expert, depot level Arriel 1 and Arriel 2 engine maintenance.

“The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is the next of several US parapublic operators to proactively adopt the CRFT into its fleet, and we are proud to continue supporting it by providing the highest levels of quality and safety possible,” adds Carl Hessberger, director of customer service for StandardAero's Center of Excellence for helicopter airframes in Langley, British Columbia.

Hangar One Avionics has also taken delivery of two CRFTs for installation on the Oklahoma City Police Department's (OKCPD) AS350 B3e helicopters. The OKCPD received budget approval in May 2018 to purchase crashworthy fuel systems and conducted a thorough review of the available retrofit options. “As we were evaluating the options to upgrade our AStar helicopters with crashworthy fuel tanks, it was extremely important for us to select a solution that would be compatible with the existing equipment on the aircraft,” says Lieutenant Mike Jackson. “Due to the nature of our work, we have search lights, cameras and other mission equipment installed, including cargo hooks since we support firefighting operations in the area, so we needed to ensure we selected a product that exhibited proven durability to withstand an impact from not only external threats, but also potential threats such as these that are installed on the aircraft itself.”

“Robertson's goal in working with StandardAero for the CRFT was to bring our proven safety performance in crashworthy fuel systems for the military to civilian operators. Our products are built for fuel containment, survivability and ease of installation,” says Robertson Fuel Systems president Newman Shufflebarger. “Our mission and legacy is to ensure the safety of those who protect us, like the brave heroes who serve in law enforcement operations.”

The StandardAero/Robertson AS350/EC130 CRFT is fully compliant to the latest FAA FAR Part 27.952 fuel system crash resistance requirements, including with underbelly equipment installed. In March 2017, the StandardAero/Robertson team successfully conducted a 50-foot drop test of the CRFT in an airframe structure, including cargo swing attachment, solidifying its ability to withstand significant impact without leakage.

“Throughout the development of the CRFT, the StandardAero and Robertson team was careful to thoughtfully design the tank in such a way that its features were practical for use in the real environments these aircraft operate in,” said Elvis Moniz, StandardAero's vice president of business development for airframe and avionics solutions. “With so many public safety and HEMS operators relying on the AS350, oftentimes with varying equipment and operating conditions at play, we knew we had to develop a product that could withstand a myriad of threats. We are pleased to see customers like the OKCPD giving that same level of shrewd attention to the safety of their operations and making a proactive choice to invest in this potentially lifesaving equipment.”

The AS350/EC130 CRFT design is based on proven military technologies from Robertson, which have been successfully fielded on a number of military aircraft and boast a distinguished record of superior crashworthiness. The durable, multilayered composite container contains no rivets and is reinforced in the most susceptible areas of the tank. Other safety features of the CRFT include a self-sealing breakaway valve, self-contained vent system with roll-over valve and a shielded sump drain valve. In addition to being approved for virtually all variants of the AS350 helicopter series, including the EC130 B4, CRFT customers operating B2 and prior variants can now take advantage of a $25,000 training credit made available by Airbus Helicopters for installing the CRFT on their eligible aircraft.

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