Transport Australia says there’s no reason a helicopter can’t fly in a plane’s wings, but the federal government says it needs to make the decision based on safety, comfort and cost.
The government is considering adding wings on a number of existing models, including the Blackhawk helicopter, the P-40 and the F-15 Eagle, according to a government document seen by the ABC.
In the past, Transport Minister David Johnston has defended the government’s decision to introduce the wings on the P400 Hawk, saying it would not pose a safety risk.
“In the aircraft industry, a wing is an important structural element that’s used to provide the stability and the power to move the aircraft in a controlled manner,” he said in a statement.
“It’s also essential in aircraft systems like the P100 that it has a minimum height that minimises turbulence.”
But the minister has been questioned about the cost of the wings in recent months.
In July, Transport for NSW said the cost was “too high” to justify the addition of wings, and a spokesman said the department had been “working with industry to examine the feasibility of a similar approach”.
But last month the government said the decision was based on a risk assessment and that there was “no evidence” that the wings would significantly reduce the aircraft’s ability to fly.
“It’s an area that we will continue to work with industry on and we will provide further details when that is complete,” the spokesman said.
Transport for NSW has not commented on the costs of adding wings to the P200, P400 and P-100 Hawk, but it’s been reported that the company has already spent $12 million on its new wing designs.
The wing designs are not the only reason the wings have been considered.
There are concerns about the noise the wings make, which has also been cited as a reason to remove the wings.
It’s believed that the decision to remove wings on some of the existing aircraft is being made based on cost.
But in an article for the Australian Aviation magazine, the company said the added costs could be offset by other advantages of having wings.
“There is no evidence that wings have a significant impact on the performance of the aircraft or increase aerodynamic drag, but additional wing performance is important to the aircraft design,” the article said.
The Aviation Journal said there were other other benefits to having wings: “There are several other aircraft designs which have winglets, like the F/A-18 Hornet and the Boeing 737, that do not require wing support structures to operate properly.”
The P-400, the F1 and the Black Hawk are among those aircraft that do, and these are also much more expensive.
“The Federal Government has said that the proposed wing removal for the P300 would be done at a later date.