Russia’s Oboronprom Corporation and AgustaWestland announced the signing of a heads of agreement for the joint final assembly of the AW139 medium twin helicopter in a still-to-be-built factory near Moscow. According to Oboronprom director general Andrey Reus, outlined plans call for a production rate of 24 helicopters per year.
Asia accounted for about 20 percent of AgustaWestland’s orders last year and the European helicopter maker therefore sees the region as a growing market. The booming Chinese economy is a big factor in this assessment, as is the European helicopter maker’s presence in the People’s Republic through an expanding relationship with the Chinese aerospace industry.
Sikorsky’s X2 technology dem-onstrator could fly by year-end, according to Peter Grant, Sikorsky’s director of advanced programs. The X2 is a coaxial rigid-rotor compound helicopter designed to achieve forward speeds up to 250 knots, and at that clip it would become the world’s fastest helicopter. The current helicopter speed record of 217 knots (set by a Westland Lynx) has stood for more than 20 years.
Frontier Airlines expects to take delivery of its first Bombardier Q400 this month and launch service aboard the 74-seat turboprop with its new Lynx Aviation subsidiary on September 5. Early last month the company waited for a waiver approval from the DOT to begin “advertising, accepting payments and selling” tickets on June 14 for its first four markets, all of which it plans to serve from Denver.
Canadian firm Heli-Lynx Helicopter Services launched the TwinStar 355FX mod at Heli-Expo last month. The program, which has received Transport Canada approval and was awaiting FAA certification at press time, essentially modifies an IFR Eurocopter AS 355F2 TwinStar into a twin-engine version of the VFR AS 350 AStar.
A strengthening worldwide market for civil and military helicopters is responsible for keeping senior executives at engine-maker Rolls-Royce jubilant–but not satisfied.
Looking to the near-term future, Rolls-Royce views unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and emerging civil markets in China and India as the next big growth areas, according to Scott Crislip, president of helicopters and small gas turbine engines for the UK manufacturer.
Delivery of the seven AgustaWestland A109 Power helicopters ordered by Saudi Aramco are almost complete, with the last aircraft due for acceptance by the end of the year.
The recent delivery of the last of 16 AgustaWestland Super Lynx 300 helicopters to the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) has boosted export prospects for a program that is extending the life of a highly successful design. Oman has bought the Super Lynx, powered by two Rolls-Royce/Honeywell LHTEC CTS800 engines, to replace aging single-engine Bell 205s–an application that should be of interest to other operators of the venerable Huey.
The first of 11 AgustaWestland A109 LOH (light observation helicopters) was handed over to the Malaysian army at the end of last year, during the country’s biennial Langkawi airshow. The start of training for (initially) five pilots began at the same time, coincidentally as an earlier contract to train Royal Malaysian Navy crews on their six new AW Super Lynx 300s came to a successful conclusion.
AgustaWestland is not relocating all its military helicopter manufacturing to the UK, as had been assumed by some in the wake of last month’s dual announcements of a UK Ministry of Defence order for 70 Future Lynx helicopters and the news that the firm’s AW149 model will be built at its facility at Yeovil in southwest England.