Swiss rescue organization Rega’s 13 helicopters flew a steady (+0.2 percent) number of missions last year, the tally being 10,443. Meanwhile, the introduction of the fleet of AgustaWestland AW109 Da Vincis, a dedicated version of the Grand New, will be completed this summer in Rega’s mountain bases. Rega spent CHF113.5 million ($100 million) to acquire the 11 new helicopters.
A spokesman for AgustaWestland (AW) told AIN that the company is still in the hunt for the U.S. VXX Presidential helicopter replacement program, commonly known as Marine One. Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, the chairman and CEO of AW parent company Finmeccanica, suggested that AW could partner with Boeing and L-3 for the contract.
Intermountain Healthcare (IHC) has ordered three of AgustaWestland’s GrandNew light twin helicopters and holds options for two more. The U.S. operator will deploy the new aircraft with its Intermountain Life Flight division to be used for medical evacuation missions in Utah and Nevada.
AgustaWestland on March 31 officially opened its “operational flying training center” (OFTC) at Newquay Cornwall Airport in South West England. The OFTC can provide services from basic helicopter pilot training to “advanced operational helicopter flying training.” Because the training center was devised for military and public services pilots, it is also able to train rear crew for rescue winch and medical missions.
Lockheed Martin is partnering with Sikorsky to promote the latter’s H-92 medium-lift helicopter for the new VXX presidential transport mission. Last year the Pentagon canceled the VH-71 presidential helicopter replacement program after spending $3.3 billion for the first nine AgustaWestland AW101s that were slated to be integrated and completed by Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin announced yesterday that it is partnering with Sikorsky to promote the latter’s H-92 medium-lift helicopter for the new VXX presidential transport mission. This is the latest development in the tortured process to replace the fleet of aging Sikorsky VH-3Ds and VH-60Ns operated by the Marine Corps to transport the President and other government VIPs.
Servizi Elicotteristici Italiani (SEI) has received EASA certification for its lightweight cabin-noise and vibration-reduction system called Silens. The system was approved on an AgustaWestland AW139 and FAA certification is expected early this year.
Spirits were high and attendance reached a healthy 15,243 at Heli-Expo’10, held February 21 to 23 in Houston. The number of exhibitors, 596, was higher than last year, and this year’s attendance was the third highest in Heli-Expo history, underscoring the helicopter industry’s assertion that the diversity of the markets it serves has moderated the effects of the recession.
AgustaWestland’s Deliveries Up, Orders Down for Last Year
Helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter stayed in the black last year, with €263 million ($360 million) in pre-tax earnings, according to financial results released last week by parent company EADS, although its operating margin slid from 6.5 percent in 2008 to 5.8 percent last year.