A senior AgustaWestland executive told AIN late last week that the company was giving serious consideration to building production models of the AW609 civil tiltrotor in the U.S., possibly in Texas. Robert LaBelle, managing director of the AgustaWestland Tilt-Rotor Co., said the aircraft initially would be built partially in Italy and the U.S., but that the ultimate decision on where to conduct final assembly would be “driven by the customer base” and that “35 percent of that is predicted to be in the United States.”
Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland has received $74 million from the UK Government Regional Growth Fund to help develop the AW609 civil tiltrotor and future tiltrotor designs. AW said it will work with the National Composites Centre, the University of Liverpool and key UK suppliers on the program. The tiltrotor is slated for certification in 2016. AgustaWestland said it would contribute more than $87 million to the program.
AgustaWestland signed three key supplier agreements for its AW609 civil tiltrotor program here at Farnborough yesterday, with Pratt & Whitney Canada, Rockwell Collins and BAE Systems. These major agreements follow a trail of contracts signed with AW609 component suppliers since AgustaWestland acquired the tiltrotor program last November. FAA and EASA certification of the AW609 is projected to occur in the first half of 2016.
Textron Defense Systems will start production of India’s order for 512 CBU-105 sensor fuzed weapons (SFW) soon. The $257.7 million sale was contracted via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales mechanism in November 2010. Encouraged by India’s continuing move away from reliance on Russian weapons, Textron is now marketing other defense systems in the country.
Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison told AIN that his company is seeking airframe partners on its new 525 Relentless super-medium twin, which was announced last month at Heli-Expo in Dallas. “We’re looking at that. On the airframe side there are some potential partners that we are in detailed discussions with, but it is too early to announce anything yet,” he said.
Today, Bell Helicopter formally launched the 525 “Relentless” super-medium twin, the largest civil helicopter in the company’s history. The helicopter is an 18,000-pound “plus” ship aimed squarely at the offshore market with a range of more than 400 nm, a speed near 150 knots and a ceiling of 20,000 feet. Offshore helicopter service provider PHI is the launch customer.
Is this the latest triple-rotor rotorcraft from “Belikorsky?” Perhaps it’s the ultimate in shipborne mission flexibility. Or maybe it’s just the way a Sikorsky MH-60R and a Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor are parked on the ramp at the Dubai Air Show.
Bell Helicopter Textron has high hopes that three aircraft making their Dubai Air Show debuts–the Bell 407AH and 429, and Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor–will soon find permanent homes in the Middle East.
AgustaWestland’s new CEO, Bruno Spagnolini, ensured that his company made a big splash at this year’s Paris Air Show, announcing a new helicopter, new joint ventures, plans to increase product support and service and takeover of the languishing civil tiltrotor program from development partner Bell Helicopter.
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.”