Heli USA, the third largest helicopter tour operator in Las Vegas, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month in a move the company asserts was triggered by a commercial dispute with AgustaWestland over leased helicopters. Heli USA had stopped making lease payments after it claimed the Italian airframer failed to deliver a trio of helicopters with ordered equipment, including sightseeing windows and in-flight entertainment systems. Heli USA filed for Chapter 11 in a bid to stop AgustaWestland from repossessing the aircraft.
“The Middle East remains a very important market for AgustaWestland,” said CEO Daniele Romiti on the eve of this year’s Dubai Airshow. “It is a challenging market, where personal relationships have a great importance,” he added.
The AgustaWestland AW101 won Norway’s competition for a new search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopter. The win could be worth more than €1 billion if Norway buys 16 aircraft as planned and exercises options for another six. The AW101s will replace Sea Kings provided by Westland in the 1970s.
Washington, D.C.-based business jet sales brokerage Avpro and Heli Asset, a helicopter sales brokerage based in Paris, France, are joining forces. Under the partnership, they are creating a new division within Avpro to focus on helicopter sales and acquisition services. This creates an independent helicopter sales and acquisition service backed by Avpro’s financial strength and Heli Asset’s four sales directors with OEM expertise in AgustaWestland, Bell, Eurocopter and Sikorsky models.
Deliveries of civil turbine helicopters will recover slowly until they exceed their 2008 peak in 2018 and then reach a demand plateau, according to the Teal Group’s rotorcraft market forecast covering 2013 through 2022. The study predicts that 10,300 civil turbine helicopters worth $60.3 billion will enter service during that period.
AgustaWestland expects its AW189 and AW169 medium twins to achieve certification by the end of next year.
Sikorsky Aircraft is lobbying to replace AgustaWestland (AW) as the supplier of VIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force. The company is already building fuselages for the S-92 in India. Meanwhile, the Indian Minister of Defense confirmed that the ministry had sent a legal notice to AgustaWestland regarding the contract for 12 AW101s, now in jeopardy after the company allegedly violated the terms of a pre-integrity pact. The company has 21 days to respond.
AgustaWestland’s family of new-generation, twin-engine, intermediate-to-medium size helicopters–the AW139, AW169 and AW189–garnered the major share of the news from Italy’s Finmeccanica here at NBAA 2013.
The Avincis Group recently signed an order for one AW139, two AW169s and two AW189s. The AW139 and two AW169s will be used for emergency medical operations in Sicily. Meanwhile, Bond Aviation plans to operate the other two AW189s for offshore work in the North Sea, flying out of the UK.
India’s attorney general, Goolamhussein Essaji Vahanvati, ruled last week that AgustaWestland breached contractual obligations and an associated “integrity pact” in winning a $787 million contract to supply 12 AW101 VIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2010, raising the possibility the government will cancel the deal.
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.