British Helicopter Association CEO Peter Norton has urged UK authorities to abandon plans for new restrictions on rotorcraft operations over urban areas following the January 16 accident in which an AgustaWestland A109 Power crashed in central London. The crash prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron to order a review of helicopter operating rules, and an Air Accidents Investigation Branch inquiry is in progress.
AgustaWestland (Booth 7070) has received orders from Russia and the British Isles for VIP-configured helicopters.
Exclases Russia inked a contract for five AW139 medium twins–in a mix of VIP and utility layouts. HeliVert, a Russian Helicopters and AgustaWestland joint venture located in Tomilino near Moscow, will produce the AW139s. The deal is a follow-on to a previous agreement, which calls for one AW139 to be delivered in June. Exclases also has ordered a GrandNew light twin in VIP transport configuration.
The U.S. Navy restarted the VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program by issuing a final request for proposals on May 3. The next day, Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) officially welcomed a new type into the presidential fleet–the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor–which will be used in a support role to carry White House staff and reporters following the President.
Inaer France received on March 22 what it claims is the first approval in that country for a commercial helicopter operator to use night-vision goggles (NVG). France is relatively late adopting NVG operations, as most Avincis group operators already had such an approval, Frédéric Goig, CEO of the Le Cannet des Maures-based company, told AIN. Avincis is the name chosen late last year for the merged Inaer and Bond.
AgustaWestland will open a second production line for the new AW169 medium-twin helicopter at its manufacturing facility in Philadelphia, the company announced today. The primary production line for the AW169 will remain at the company’s plant in Vergiate, Italy. Four examples of the 9,000-pound class helicopter are currently in flight-test, with certification expected next year.
Though its parent company Finmeccanica yesterday reported €786 million in losses last year, subsidiary AgustaWestland posted strong 2012 results that included revenues of €4.2 billion, new orders of €4 billion and an accumulated backlog of €11.87 billion, as well as earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation of €473 million. The helicopter manufacturer’s results reflected marginally improved results over its 2011 performance and also reflected a slight increase in research and development spending, to €506 million.
AgustaWestland and Embraer have terminated joint-venture discussions for helicopter production in Brazil. The companies issued a joint statement yesterday announcing the decision, but declined to provide reasons why talks collapsed.
Milestone Aviation Group, the helicopter leasing firm that was co-founded in August 2010 by airplane fractional program pioneer Richard Santulli, has quickly grown to mammoth size. The Dublin, Ireland-based company said its fleet, which ranges from light-twin to heavy helicopters, now includes more than 90 aircraft from AgustaWestland, Bell, Eurocopter and Sikorsky worth more than $1.3 billion.
The strong business aviation presence at Malaysia’s LIMA air show held last month on the island of Langkawi was testament to the fact that the industry’s growth in the Asia Pacific region extends well beyond China.
When Bell Helicopter sold its remaining stake in the BA609 civil tiltrotor program to partner AgustaWestland about two years ago, industry analysts figured that Bell was exiting this niche market. But might not be the case, since Bell unveiled a next-generation tiltrotor–the Bell V-280 Valor–yesterday at the Army Aviation Association of America (Quad A) convention in Fort Worth, Texas.