Kaman Aerospace (Booth No. 4922) said it is soliciting customer interest here at Heli-Expo to resume production of the civil variant of its K-Max heavy external lift helicopter. The K-Max was certified in 1994, and autonomously piloted models have recently been flying for the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan. Civil versions of the aircraft have long been used in construction, firefighting and logging applications.
Safran subsidiary Microturbo of Toulouse, France, and Houston’s Bristow Group announced at Heli-Expo 2014 signing the first support by the hour (SBH) agreement for Microturbo’s e-APU60. The Microturbo e-APU provides auxiliary power for the AW189 helicopter, which Bristow operates. Under the five-year agreement Turbomeca, Safran’s helicopter engine specialist, will provide integrated support activity for the Microturbo e-APUs installed on 11 search-and-rescue helicopters and six operating in the and oil and gas sector. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
AgustaWestland (AW) unveiled its new vision and strategy for continued growth at its annual Heli-Expo press breakfast. Under a new “ThinkCustomer” banner, the company will streamline and simplify its operating model, diversify and grow its product offerings and increase its focus on customer satisfaction to respond to “a new market environment,” company CEO Daniele Romiti said. He reported the company had a 13.6-percent increase in revenues for the first nine months of 2013 (€3.012 billion) over the similar period in 2012 (€2.976 billion).
In the military segment, while clearly concerned with continuing budget constraints, Sikorsky expects to achieve two milestones this year with the first flights of the CH-53K, the latest version of its heavy-lift military transport, and the S-97 Raider.
Building on its Rolls-Royce M250 maintenance program, StandardAero announced during Heli-Expo 2014 that it has seen growth in its nascent Rolls-Royce RR300 program, having recently released its first engine back into service. The RR300 powers the Robinson R66 helicopter. As of yesterday StandardAero showed five recent engines coming into MRO at its Winnipeg, Canada location, and 50 scheduled globally.
SkyTrac Systems (Booth No. 5822) has partnered with DAC International. Under the agreement DAC will become a regional distributor for SkyTrac’s fleet management and flight data services. DAC will now distribute the SkyTrac ISAT-200A transceiver and fleet management services including business support, flight tracking and flight data monitoring across a territory that includes Latin America, Oceania and Asia.
Eagle Copters has resumed work on the Eagle 407HP conversion that retrofits the Honeywell HST900D-2 engine into the Bell 407 in place of the stock Rolls Royce C47. The Honeywell engine maintains power through higher altitudes, according to Eagle, improving payload capacity by 40 percent at 12,000 feet while reducing specific fuel consumption and delivering a 22 percent better power output than the stock engine in high/hot conditions. The new engine also offers e an 8 percent reduction in takeoff and 10 percent lower max cruise specific fuel consumption.
Enstrom Helicopter unveiled a mockup of a new, low-cost, two-seat piston-powered trainer yesterday at Heli-Expo 2014 in Anaheim, Calif. The TH-180 is a scaled-down version of the company’s three-seat FX-280.
Company officials said the TH-180 should have direct operating costs of $175 per hour and an hourly fuel burn of less than 12 gph. The launch price is $365,000. It will be powered by the 210-hp Lycoming HIO-390 and feature an engine governor and electric clutch switch. First flight is anticipated this summer and certification is targeted for 2015.
New Airbus Helicopter CEO Guillaume Faury and the head of its U.S. arm, Marc Paganini, were visibly penitent when discussing the company’s traditionally problematic customer service yesterday at Heli-Expo. Faury left no doubt that he is committed to focusing more company resources and attention on product support. “It is time for new priorities,” he said. Paganini echoed that sentiment, admitting, “We need to do better.”
For Sikorsky, 2013 was a mixed bag, according to company president Mick Maurer, who gave his company’s year-end summary presentation yesterday at Heli-Expo. While the company reached a record backlog of more than $15 billion, it also recorded an 8-percent drop in sales, to $6.3 billion, the decrease driven largely by a drop-off in U.S. government orders on both the OEM side and the aftermarket segment last year.