NH Industries (NHI) has put project studies for a commercial version of the NH90 helicopter on the back burner. The multinational partnership had been studying a civil version of the NH90 military utility rotorcraft for possible application in governmental, executive and offshore-support roles.
Delivery of the seven AgustaWestland A109 Power helicopters ordered by Saudi Aramco are almost complete, with the last aircraft due for acceptance by the end of the year.
The Carabineros de Chile has ordered four AgustaWestland A109 Powers for law enforcement, search-and-rescue and transport operations. The first helicopter is to be delivered in the first quarter of next year. AgustaWestland also announced it will soon establish an authorized service center in Chile.
The first Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor performed its first full conversion to airplane mode in Texas this past August. The maneuver has become routine, and the ground-breaking aircraft has gone on to pass the 250-knot airspeed milestone.
Television images last May of Saudi commandos dropping from a Kawasaki-Vertol KV 107IIA helicopter in a dramatic rooftop assault to free hostages from terrorists has underscored the importance of rotary-wing aircraft to Middle Eastern governments. The current heightened security state, with its emphasis on anti-terrorist operations, has made helicopters the airborne assets of choice for close-in, fast-reaction operations.
On November 9, the second Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor prototype made its maiden flight in Italy. The flight took place at an Italian Air Force airfield in Cameri, near Milan. The 52-minute first flight was quickly followed by more test flights. As of November 15, the aircraft had flown in helicopter mode only.
European helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland is developing a palletized airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) system for installation on the three-engine, fully marinized EH-101.
AgustaWestland has sold its first A109 Grand light twin helicopter to a private operator in the Philippines, joining 10 earlier A109 models already in service in the country. Orders for nearly 60 aircraft have been placed since its launch in July 2004. Initial deliveries commenced in mid-2005 following European certification. Deliveries to the U.S. will commence this month.
The first of 11 AgustaWestland A109 LOH (light observation helicopters) was handed over to the Malaysian army at the end of last year, during the country’s biennial Langkawi airshow. The start of training for (initially) five pilots began at the same time, coincidentally as an earlier contract to train Royal Malaysian Navy crews on their six new AW Super Lynx 300s came to a successful conclusion.
Paris-based fixed-wing and helicopter executive charter and fractional operator Aviaxess is launching its Corporate Helicard, a block charter card providing buyers with discounts and guaranteed helicopter availability. The company fields some 35 rotorcraft in the program, including Eurocopter Ecureuil AS 350 B2s, AS 355Ns, Dauphin AS 365Ns, EC 135s; and Agusta A109 Powers.