As the three-year temporary operating certificate of Los Angeles Airways, first regular helicopter mail service, approached expiration, the carrier applied for extension and for added permission to carry passengers and pointed to an outstanding record of decreased operating costs during the life of the operation.
The prospect of other similar services, particularly in the New York area, led helicopter manufacturers to reveal their designs for large passenger-carrying machines. The availability of these helicopters depends on sufficient demand to absorb the tooling cost and permission from the military services for the manufacturers to devote part of their productive capacity to commercial manufacturing.
Bell Aircraft announced its Feeder-Liner, a 13-passenger commercial version of the military model H-12. This craft is designed for a maximum range of 270 miles with full load.
Priced at approximately $120,000 is the Sikorsky commercial version of its 12-passenger military machine. The commercial version was scheduled for test flight late in 1949.
While the prospects for large commercial helicopters grew somewhat brighter, there has been competition among four manufacturers for an Air Force contract to develop a large Arctic rescue helicopter. The winner will be able to absorb a considerable amount of the development cost of large helicopters for commercial use and will therefore have an advantage in the race for commercial business.
In addition to the three manufacturers previously mentioned, McDonnel’s XHJD-1, largest of the entries, has been under development for several years. It is reported that this primarily military machine has been flown to 12,000 ft. and operated successfully with a gross weight of more than 11,000 lb. It cruises above 100 mph. with a useful load of more than 2,000 lb.
A possible fifth contender is Kellett Aviation Corporation with its all-metal XR-10, but unfortunately the prototype machine was lost in a test flight during the fall.
- Air Transportation in 1958: Subsidies (Local-service and Helicopter Airlines) (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
- Aviation in 1949: An Overview (egrejeen.wordpress.com)