Rapid economic growth in the United Arab Emirates is fueling the expansion of Dubai-based helicopter operator Helidubai. Less than two years after its inception, the company, owned by the government of Dubai, has embarked on a fleet expansion with both passenger and aerial-work aircraft. In addition, it is also striving to help create dedicated heliports and helipads in the burgeoning city.
The year since Heli-Expo 2004 has not been a bad one for the helicopter industry, all things considered. The industry put on a confident face at Heli-Expo in March last year, with companies logging a record number of deals at the show. Bell announced its intention to claw back market share from Eurocopter and within 48 hours had taken walk-up orders for 11 copies of the just-launched IFR version of its 427 light twin.
VIP and government flight specialist Dubai Air Wing has ordered two AW139s in executive configuration. In Qatar, Gulf Helicopters has ordered 10 AW139s for offshore-oil passenger transport.
Abu Dhabi-based Falcon Aviation Services (FAS) last month gave an update on its fleet expansion. A second Eurocopter EC 130B4 will be delivered in April, with a third to follow in July. Two AS 365N3 Dauphins are pegged for delivery in January and October. A second AgustaWestland Grand will be introduced in July. In addition, a Bell 206L3 LongRanger will join the fleet under a two-year lease agreement.
CHC Helicopter has ordered 12 Sikorsky S-92s and 13 AgustaWestland AW139s. The contracts are worth nearly $400 million. CHC plans to use the S-92s for offshore support and commercial search-and-rescue operations. Delivery of S-92s under the new order is scheduled to begin in 2009. AgustaWestland values CHC’s latest AW139 order at “approximately $140 million.” CHC plans to use the AW139s for offshore support and EMS missions.
Early next year, Helsinki, Finland-based operator Copterline will restart one of the few scheduled public helicopter routes in the world. It discontinued the flight between the neighboring capitals of Helsinki and Tallinn, Estonia, after the 2005 fatal crash of a Sikorsky S-76C+ (see AIN, October, page 74).
Recent orders for some 45 aircraft in the offshore transport configuration have confirmed a rising demand for the AW139 in the Middle East. Here at the Dubai Air Show, AgustaWestland (Stand C310) is exhibiting both the offshore transport and VIP versions of the AW139 as well as a VIP A109 Grand.
Although Turkey announced its selection of the AgustaWestland A129 for its tactical reconnaissance and attack helicopter program in March, it took until September 7 to finalize a contract whereby the Anglo-Italian rotorcraft maker will participate in Turkey’s ATAK program in partnership with prime contractor Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI).
Brazilian-based Synergy Aerospace has ordered 12 AgustaWestland helicopters, including AW109 Powers, Grands and AW139s. They will be used in corporate, executive and offshore transport. The contract is part of a 2006 framework agreement. Meanwhile, Spanish marine safety agency Sasemar has ordered two additional AW139s in search-and-rescue (SAR) configuration, to be used for SAR and water-pollution detection.
The UK government is investigating GKN’s $1.79 billion (£1 billion) sale of its 50-percent stake in helicopter company AgustaWestland on grounds of national security. Government trade and industry minister Helen Smith has issued a European Intervention Notice under the 2002 Enterprise Act.