SkyTrac’s automated flight following and satellite communication system has received FAA STC and Transport Canada Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS) approval for installation in Robinson R22s and R44s. SkyTrac is already approved for installation in various AgustaWestland, Bell, Eurocopter and Sikorsky models.
AgustaWestland is making several improvements to its AW139 medium twin, including flight-testing a de-icing system. Dubbed the full ice protection system (FIPS), the optional equipment is intended to earn the AW139 dual FAA/EASA certification for flight into known icing conditions. This milestone is expected late next year or during the first quarter of 2010.
Manufacturer AgustaWestland and Italian operator Alitalica recently signed an agreement to install a “helicopter hub” at Rome’s Urbe airport. Under the agreement, AgustaWestland will establish a maintenance center for its helicopters. Alitalica will offer “passenger hospitality services, passenger transport and corporate helicopter management services.” The helicopter hub is expected to start operating next year.
Russia’s helicopter business received a boost with an announcement by the country’s vice premier, Sergey Ivanov, that production rates for both civil and military models should be increased. Next January, the government is due to issue draft plans that will call for almost $6.4 billion of fresh investment in the industry through 2015, with half of the sum to come from the private sector.
Texas Aviation Services in Fort Worth has teamed with Brazilian aviation consultant Sierra Aeronautica of São Paulo for the completion and importation of executive, emergency medical service and utility helicopters into Brazil.
Consolidation among European helicopter operators continues, with Heliportugal joining forces with French operator SAF Helicap, creating a fleet of nearly 50 aircraft.
With its acquisition of Italian counterpart Elilario, Spanish operator Grupo Inaer has become one of Europe’s largest helicopter operators, with a fleet of nearly 220 rotorcraft. The deal is valued at ?60.8 million ($91 million). Whether the new entity will be called Elilario or Inaer Italy has yet to be decided.
AgustaWestland scored a big win last month with the sale of 12 new search-and-rescue (SAR)-configured EH 101 helicopters to the Portuguese government. In a deal valued at $313 million, Portugal voted to buy a fleet of the Anglo-Italian helicopters to replace its SAR fleet of Eurocopter Pumas. In winning the deal, AgustaWestland beat out an offer from Sikorsky for an equal number of its developing S-92 rotorcraft.
The second of three AgustaWestland AW139s that CHC Helicopter will use for search-and-rescue operations off the south coast of England on behalf of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) was delivered to the agency’s Lee-on-
Solent base last month.
Air Concepts International of Teterboro, N.J., had two examples of its Cocoon wall panel noise-reduction system on display in two AgustaWestland AW139s at Heli-Expo 2008 in Houston. According to company president Pat Cesaro, the package reduces cabin noise to 69 dB. It has been certified for installation in the AW139 in either the one- or two-door sliding door configuration.