The largest privately held offshore oil and gas helicopter operator in the Gulf of Mexico announced a sweeping restructuring last month that includes refinancing, rebranding and the appointment of a new CEO. Rotorcraft Leasing will now be known as RLC. The company announced that it has secured a “strategic investment” of an undisclosed amount from Sankaty Advisors.
At this year’s Heli-Expo, Bell CEO John Garrison was adamant that the company could afford a new civil helicopter program. “Capital-wise we have the ability to invest in new platform development. That is not a constraint. We just have to pick and choose,” Garrison said, declining to identify the market sectors Bell was considering. “The business has the ability to fund it.”
Bell Helicopter unveiled two new versions of its 407 single here at Heli-Expo yesterday. The 407GX features a Garmin G1000H glass cockpit, while the 407AH is a $5 million commercially available armed helicopter developed primarily for the export market. It will be available to qualified customers directly from Bell, as opposed to via contracts from the U.S. Defense or State Department.
Honeywell is here at Heli-Expo Booth No. 3021 highlighting engine upgrades for the Eurocopter BK117 and the Bell 407. It has partnered with Airwork New Zealand (ANZ) to offer the LTS101-850B-2 engine to upgrade the BK117-B2 light twin to a BK117-850D2. ANZ received an STC from New Zealand’s civil aviation authorities last May. At last count, Honeywell had shipped 12 engines for six aircraft.
It’s Heli-Expo, and that means it’s also Honeywell forecast time. The 13th edition of the diversified aerospace manufacturer’s best estimate on what the rotorcraft industry can expect in the next five years predicts that global deliveries of new civilian-use turbine-powered helicopters will lie somewhere between 4,200 and 4,400 through 2015, and that represents a 5-percent gain over the delivery tally from 2006 to 2010.
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.
Alberta, Canada-based Eagle Copters has an impressive engine modification to show Bell 407 pilots, operators and owners at Heli-Expo 2010. Dubbed the “Eagle 407 HP,” the popular, single-turbine helicopter sports a 1,021-shp Honeywell HTS900 engine. Though still to be flight tested and certified, the engine upgrade has the promise of providing the popular model with the power it needs for improved operations at higher altitudes.
A Bell 407, highly customized for air medical operations, is the centerpiece of United Rotorcraft Solutions’ Heli-Expo Booth (No. 1617). It features Chelton synthetic vision and is provisioned for a Chelton autopilot. The completion by the Decatur, Texas, systems integrator is one of two 407s configured for Halo-Flight of Corpus Christi.
Metro Aviation has earned FAA Part 145 repair station status to perform maintenance and repair on Bell 407s. With this latest certification, the Shreveport, La.-based company continues to diversify the helicopters approved under a long-standing repair station authorization. Metro has finished several new Bell 407s both for air medical and corporate customers and the company has contracts for completions of the aircraft through next year.
Following Transport Canada certification and FAA validation of the Bell 429 in July, Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas, delivered the first aircraft, S/N 57006, to launch customer Air Methods on August 1. The current Bell 429 fleet (two prototypes, three flight test and two customer aircraft) has accumulated more than 2,200 hours.