AgustaWestland signed agreements at the Farnborough airshow with three key suppliers–Pratt & Whitney Canada, Rockwell Collins and BAE Systems–for its AW609 civil tiltrotor program. These major agreements follow a trail of contracts signed with AW609 component suppliers since AgustaWestland acquired the tiltrotor program last November. The OEM expects to obtain FAA and EASA certification of the AW609 in the first half of 2016.
Agusta Westland Tilt Rotor Co. (AWTR) flew an AW609 (née BA609) tiltrotor at Arlington Municipal Airport yesterday. The company also provided an update on the program, which comes in the aftermath of AgustaWestland’s taking over full ownership of the 609 project when former partner Bell Helicopter relinquished its half last November.
AgustaWestland established AWTR to complete certification and bring the AW609 to market, with its U.S. headquarters based at AWTR’s new office-hangar complex at the airport.
While Cessna Aircraft’s new CEO, Scott Ernest, may not be ready to sit down for wide-ranging interviews with outside media yet, he did indicate what his priorities are during a brief Q&A he gave for its internal newsletter, the Cessnan, just two days after he joined the company on May 31.
AgustaWestland is purchasing full ownership of the BA609 civil tiltrotor program from Bell Helicopter. AW’s new CEO, Bruno Spagnolini, and Bell CEO John Garrison announced the deal at the Paris Air Show on June 21. Under the proposed agreement, subject to regulatory approval, Bell will continue to provide engineering, program management services, and key component manufacture on the 609. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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.”
AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppi Orsi had reason to smile at Saturday night’s press conference, pointing out that the Milan-based manufacturer delivered 111 commercial helicopters in 2010 and the commercial order book showed an increase of 56 percent when compared with 2009.
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
AgustaWestland parent company Finmeccanica on Friday disclosed its 2009 results, showing increased deliveries but slashed orders for the Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer. Revenues grew by 15 percent to €3.48 billion (about $4.7 billion) in 2009. This was influenced by robust deliveries of AW139 medium and AW101 heavy helicopters, as well as product support results, the company said. The pre-tax earning margin stagnated at 10.7 percent.
Bell Helicopter has announced senior staff changes and the integration of its XworX research and development center into its engineering department, at a time when questions persist about the company’s future role in the BA609 civil tiltrotor program and the launch customer for the 429 light twin helicopter seeks to back out of its purchase agreement.
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