“There were times when we could ramp up production on one line merely by shuffling some people around from the others,” said president Paul Schweizer of the eponymous light helicopter manufacturer. “Those days are gone now.”
Last month, Sikorsky Aircraft announced an agreement to acquire privately owned Keystone Ranger Holdings for an unspecified sum. Previously backed by investors that included Meridian Venture Partners, Keystone specializes in engineering, completion and technical support for commercial helicopters, and aeromedical flight operations. Closing was expected by year-end, subject to government approval, as well as certain other conditions.
Paul A. Schweizer, soaring pioneer and the second of three brothers who founded Schweizer Aircraft in the 1930s, died on August 18 at the age of 91 in Elmira, N.Y. Long out of the sailplane business, Schweizer Aircraft has since expanded into airframe subcontracting work and helicopter development and manufacturing but is still family-run.
At last month’s American Helicopter Society forum in Grapevine, Texas, several OEMs unveiled entirely new projects or reported major progress on projects under development. Two of those new projects are based on original designs that first flew more than 50 years ago. Of particular interest, given recent history, is that all but one of the designs are the result of American research and development.
US Helicopter, the operator due to launch a scheduled service linking Manhattan heliports with New York City airports (see yesterday’s edition of HAI Convention News), is set to triple its fleet. Yesterday CEO Jerry Murphy signed an order for four new Sikorsky S-76C++s, to bolster its launch fleet of two used -B model helicopters. The new helicopters are due to enter service starting next year.
Over the past 18 months, Jet-Care International has witnessed a dramatic upturn in its helicopter engine condition program as manufacturers and operators see the potential to diagnose a problem before it becomes an expensive maintenance issue.
By this time next year Sikorsky may be in a position to challenge the number one spot in commercial helicopter deliveries based on total revenue. That was the optimistic message from Jeff Pino, senior vice president, corporate strategy, marketing and commercial programs, at a Heli-Expo press conference yesterday.
If sales are the standard by which the success of an aviation trade show is measured, Heli-Expo 2006 will go down as an unqualified triumph, with announced helicopter sales contracts tallying more than $620 million among all the major manufacturers.
Keystone Helicopter Corp. (Booth No. 2645), which was acquired by Sikorsky Aircraft last year, announced the selection of Patty Ryan as chief financial officer. Her background includes 22 years at Sikorsky, where most recently she served as manager of the integration team for Sikorsky at Keystone.
Bristow Group celebrated its new brand identity with the unveiling of a redecorated S-76 at the Sikorsky Aircraft booth (No. 2537) yesterday. The company was formerly known as Offshore Logistics, but a survey among customers and employees last year confirmed that the Bristow brand name was stronger and should be applied to all the company’s business units, said Bristow president and CEO William Chiles.