AgustaWestland continues to be on pace to certify its new AW189 medium-twin helicopter late this year, with the first non-test production model making its first flight on Thursday. The helicopter is slated for December delivery to oil-and-gas service operator Bristow Group. Two other AW189s are on the production line in Italy.
AgustaWestland expects that its 16- to 18-passenger AW189 medium-twin helicopter will be EASA certified by year-end. Four prototypes and two pre-production aircraft have logged a combined 1,900 flight hours, it said. Certification, once hoped for this summer, is now “very close,” according to a company spokesman. The first delivery, to offshore operator Bristow, is scheduled to take place by year-end, he told AIN.
An order for as many as 35 AgustaWestland AW139 medium helicopters, which might be produced by the Helivert joint factory with Russian Helicopters, hit a snag in late August. Negotiations between the Russian Defense Ministry and AgustaWestland spilled into the press, with deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov telling the country’s news agency Itar-Tass, “It’s a very expensive machine. If they cut the price, then we can return to the issue,” giving the distinct impression that a decision had already been made to pass on the $671 million order.
Helicopter leasing firm Milestone Aviation Group announced yesterday at HeliTech a multi-year framework agreement to purchase an unspecified, but “significant,” number of AgustaWestland AW139s, AW169s and AW189s.
These aircraft will enter service worldwide in support of Milestone’s lessees serving offshore oil and gas transportation services, aeromedical transport, search-and-rescue operations, para-public and other utility missions.
Quality Aviation Instruments (QAI) and Gulf Helicopters (GHC) have entered into a joint venture for component repair facilities to be located in Doha, Qatar. The agreement covers component repairs of accessories, avionics and instruments.
A2B Heli Maintenance, an EASA Part 145 independent commercial helicopter maintenance company, has formally opened its doors at London Oxford Airport. A2B Heli chose London Oxford as an expanding business aviation airport with close links to co-owned Barclays London Heliport in Battersea (20 minutes’ flying time from Oxford) and other strong transport links.
The Turkish government has tasked Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) with designing and building a home-grown helicopter to replace that country’s aging fleet of Bell UH-1s and for the export market. The deal could rely on a technology transfer from Sikorsky, and it is likely TAI will need to go engine shopping on the international market. TAI hopes to have a prototype flying within three years. Turkey is the world’s ninth-largest helicopter market, and its military estimates a need for up to 800 helicopters in the coming decade.
AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters signed an agreement last week at the MAKS airshow in Moscow for the joint design and development of a new light single-engine helicopter. The 50-50 joint program was first announced by the partners about a year ago.
The preliminary assessment of the 5,600-pound helicopter’s technical design is expected to be completed “in the next few months.” It is being designed for the worldwide market and a “wide range” of applications, the companies said.
The corruption trial of former AgustaWestland CEOs Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini is set to resume this month, with defense lawyers prepared to call an international witness list of top government officials and industry leaders. The men are charged with orchestrating bribes in connection with the sale of 12 AW101s to the government of India in 2010 when Orsi was CEO of Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland and Spagnolini was his deputy.
AgustaWestland is preparing the way to possible final assembly of its helicopters in Brazil with plans to expand the São Paulo facilities of its local subsidiary, the Italian company said yesterday at LABACE. Construction is due to be completed by the end of next year and the enlarged facility will also be used to accommodate a training center, bonded warehouse, workshop space and a heliport.