An innovative coating system that is extending the life of US Army BLACK HAWK helicopter main rotor blades may soon be available for commercial helicopters.

Kaman Helicopters (Exhibit 1719), in conjunction with Hontek, will discuss the benefits of Hontek sprayable erosion coatings with commercial operators this week during Heli-Expo 2009 in Anaheim, California. The coating has proven effective on BLACK HAWK helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan and the company now plans to offer a variant of this proven technology to commercial operators.

“This innovative product holds great promise for commercial helicopter operators, especially those who fly in harsh environments,” said Mark Tattershall, director of marketing and business development for Kaman Helicopters. “They face the same issues of rotor blade erosion and would certainly benefit from lower life cycle and maintenance costs, greater aircraft availability and extended blade service life.”

As a world leader in the design, development, manufacture and repair of composite rotor blades, Kaman is a certified facility authorized to apply the coating, and recently delivered its milestone 400th coated BLACK HAWK main rotor blade. Kaman has invested in infrastructure and equipment at its HeliworX™ subcontracting operation to support the rotor blade protection program.

A US Army-sponsored four-year qualification program and field trials culminated with the army’s approval to proceed with the deployment of coated blades in theatre.

According to a December article in Army Aviation magazine, the coating contributes to ‘improved blade life, increased aircraft availability and reduced maintenance requirements. When properly applied, the coating will significantly increase the amount of time on-wing, extending the blade’s useful life when operating in harsh environments’.

The erosion coatings are easily repairable in the field and coated blades may operate in rain, sand, gravel and icing conditions. Based on its proven performance to date, the coating is being qualified for use on US Navy and Marine Corps helicopters.