Last December Air Methods announced orders for 42 new Eurocopter and Bell helicopters, issued a special cash dividend and announced a three-for-one stock split. It also acquired the assets of Las Vegas air-tour operator Sundance Helicopters, including its fleet of 22 Eurocopter AS350s and EC130s.
Air Methods, the nation’s largest air ambulance provider, ended last year by placing orders for 42 new helicopters, including 20 Bell 407GX singles and 22 Eurocopters (10 EC130T2 and six AS350B3e light singles, and six EC135P2e light twins). All of the helicopters ordered are recently upgraded and improved editions of legacy models and feature new avionics and/or enhanced performance. The Eurocopter order is valued at more than $80 million. Deliveries are scheduled for 2014 and 2015.
Las Vegas heli-tour operator Maverick Helicopters has taken delivery of the first Eurocopter EC130T2. Maverick was a launch customer for the upgraded and redesigned EcoStar, signing an agreement earlier this year to purchase up to 50. Maverick operates EC130s exclusively and currently has the world’s largest fleet. It took delivery of its first EC130B4 in 2003.
AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters here have signed a “preliminary agreement” to jointly develop a new 2.5-metric-ton class (5,500 pounds) single-engine helicopter. Bruno Spagnolini, CEO of AgustaWestland, and Russian Helicopters CEO Dmitry Petrov inked the document. The program will be shared on a 50/50 basis.
Eurocopter is expecting EASA certification of the EC130T2 helicopter, an upgraded version of the EC130B4 large-cabin single, “within weeks.” The flight-test program has been completed and Eurocopter has delivered all the required documents to the authorities, according to Janick Blanc, the company’s vice president for light helicopter programs.
Eurocopter’s three-year effort to revamp its EcoStar was unveiled earlier this year with a strong initial order book for more than 100 helicopters. The company expects certification of the $2.5 million single-engine EC130T2 later this year. “We listened to our customers,” said Janick Blanc, Eurocopter vice president for light helicopter programs.
Apparently, the company got an ear full.
The FAA has issued what could be an expensive tail-boom inspection airworthiness directive for the more than 100 Eurocopter EC130B4s in service in the U.S., most of them with air-tour operators. The AD mandates inspections for cracks in the region where the tail boom meets the fenestron assembly. If cracks are found the boom must be replaced at an estimated cost of $64,250 per helicopter.
Eurocopter unveiled the EC130 T2, the updated version of its single-engine EC130 at Heli-Expo yesterday, and announced orders for 105 of the aircraft from seven launch customers. They include: Maverick Helicopters, Papillon Helicopters, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Scandinavian Helicopter Group, Air Commander, Europavia and Enloe FlightCare.
At a Sunday morning press event, Turbomeca chairman and CEO Olivier Andriès listed the French turbine engine manufacturer’s 2011 successes, including a recovery in production numbers from the 2010 low of 800. Turbomeca delivered 950 turboshaft engines last year, and expects to produce approximately 1,100 before the end of 2012.
At Heli-Expo today, Eurocopter unveiled the EC130 T2, an updated version of its venerable single-engine helicopter. It also announced orders for 105 of the new aircraft from seven launch customers: Maverick Helicopters, Papillon Helicopters, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Scandinavian Helicopter Group, Air Commander, Europavia and Enloe FlightCare. The EC130 T2 is powered by the Turbomeca Arriel 2D engine, which provides 10 percent more average power and lower specific fuel consumption than the original powerplant and has a higher time between overhaul interval.