Maybe it was pent-up demand. Maybe it was part of a desire to party before the war. Maybe times aren’t as hard as the pundits say they are. No matter the reason, this year’s staging of the Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo was a success far beyond anyone’s expectations.
VIP and government flight specialist Dubai Air Wing has ordered two AW139s in executive configuration. In Qatar, Gulf Helicopters has ordered 10 AW139s for offshore-oil passenger transport.
CHC Helicopter has ordered 12 Sikorsky S-92s and 13 AgustaWestland AW139s. The contracts are worth nearly $400 million. CHC plans to use the S-92s for offshore support and commercial search-and-rescue operations. Delivery of S-92s under the new order is scheduled to begin in 2009. AgustaWestland values CHC’s latest AW139 order at “approximately $140 million.” CHC plans to use the AW139s for offshore support and EMS missions.
A story in AIN’s opening edition at the Dubai Air Show [DEAL FOR RUSSIAN HELOS A BLOW TO FRANCE] suggested that Russian defense export agency Rosboronexport would announce a $2.2 billion deal with Saudi Arabia for 150 Mi-17 transport and Mi-35 attack helicopters at the show.
The recently EASA-certified Eurocopter EC 225 Super Puma has a new anti-vibration system that brings more performance, simplicity and lightness to the helicopter. Othertechnological innovations on themedium-twin helicopter include a new autopilot–with an engine-failure mode–and a new cockpit, which the company describes as providing a more intuitive man-machine interface.
AgustaWestland appointed former Bell CEO John Murphey to run Agusta-WestlandBell (AWB), the joint-venture company formed to manage the US-101 helicopter program. The US-101 and Sikorsky S-92 are the two finalists in the competition to replace the current fleet of Marine One helicopters that carry the President.
The FAA has granted type certification to two new variants of GE’s CT7-8 turboshaft. The newly certified A and E models, more powerful and more durable than earlier versions, are intended for the Sikorsky S-92, Agusta Westland EH-101/US-101 and NH Industries NH-90 helicopters. Improved versions of the UH-60 Black Hawk, for U.S. Army Special Operations forces, are also candidates for the new unit.
The fifth and final prototype Sikorsky S-92 medium-twin transport helo, this one incorporating customer-inspired design changes and a new Rockwell Collins glass cockpit, made its first flight October 5 at Sikorsky Aircraft’s flight-test field in Stratford, Conn.
Business/VIP helicopter owners are increasingly demanding more cabin comfort and equipment. Helicopter manufacturers enjoying a booming market for their products are thus endeavoring to make their interiors look more like those of business jets.
The AgustaWestland/Bell/Lockheed Martin VH-71 made its first flight July 3 in Yeovil, UK. The 40-minute flight reached speeds of 135 knots and was reportedly uneventful, but there are likely challenges ahead for the program. The U.S. Navy is developing the VH-71 as a replacement for the 30-year-old Sikorsky VH-3Ds and somewhat newer N-60 “Whitehawks” that transport the President and other high-ranking government officials.