Pratt & Whitney Canada has won the contract to power Eurocopter’s EC 175, a new 6.7-metric-ton helicopter that will fill the gap between the EC 155 Dauphin and EC 255 Super Puma. The PT6C-67E turbine engine selected for the helicopter will be the first dual-channel Fadec-controlled PT6 from Pratt & Whitney Canada, noted company president Alain Bellemare.
Bell/Agusta AB139s seem to be headed far and wide at the moment. Deliveries of the new medium twin to the Namibian government and, most recently, to philanthropist the Aga Khan (see sidebar) are recent milestones, as the companies announce orders from Canada, New Zealand and the U.S. (The U.S. Coast Guard’s Deepwater order for up to 35 aircraft was a particular coup.) At press time, Bell/Agusta reported orders for more than 80 aircraft.
Following the first Bell/Agusta AB139 delivery to Helilario, production is now ramping up to meet deliveries to international customers later this year. The company said it already has a “sizable” order book for the helicopter, corresponding to two years of production. Preparation of AB139 customer-support and training activities is on target to meet introduction-into-service dates.
On December 21, Turkish-based Tusas Aerospace Industries shipped its first AW139 fuselage to AgustaWestland. Under a 2004 agreement, 250 fuselages for the medium twin will be manufactured in Ankara between last year and 2017. The company will deliver 24 this year.
While Eurocopter remains the leader in unit sales of civil helicopters, its competitors are honing their products. The company’s management team is well aware of the pressure, as one official recently expressed concern about new competing products from Western manufacturers. He stated that they will soon be as capable as, and less expensive than, Eurocopter’s.
AgustaWestland is acquiring Bell Helicopter’s 25-percent stake in the AB139 twin-turbine helicopter program. “Consolidating the ownership of the AB139 will provide a single face to the customer, leading to increased sales and greater customer satisfaction related to follow-on support services,” said AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppi Orsi.
An air-medical AB139 that will be used by Italian operator Airgreen during next year’s Winter Olympic Games in Turin is on display here in Paris on the ramp beside the Bell/Agusta Aerospace chalet (A382). The twin-turbine helicopter’s unobstructed, 282-cu.-ft.
The Carabineros de Chile has ordered four AgustaWestland A109 Powers for law enforcement, search-and-rescue and transport operations. The first helicopter is to be delivered in the first quarter of next year. AgustaWestland also announced it will soon establish an authorized service center in Chile.
Television images last May of Saudi commandos dropping from a Kawasaki-Vertol KV 107IIA helicopter in a dramatic rooftop assault to free hostages from terrorists has underscored the importance of rotary-wing aircraft to Middle Eastern governments. The current heightened security state, with its emphasis on anti-terrorist operations, has made helicopters the airborne assets of choice for close-in, fast-reaction operations.
AgustaWestland, the helicopter design and manufacturing company based in the UK and Italy, last month announced deliveries of the first AW139 and an A109 Grand to South Africa. The AW139 made its way via ferry flight from Milan, Italy, to Cape Town, South Africa, to join the static display at African Aerospace and Defence 2006. Outfitted with a VIP-configured interior, the helicopter stands out thanks to a special paint scheme.